well water filtration - am I getting what I need?

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Old 01-24-09, 12:02 PM
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well water filtration - am I getting what I need?

Hi there,

I moved into a house in the country about 6 months ago. There was an old iron filter and softener on the existing well equipment. The water wasn't that great - there were rust stains in the mobile home's fixtures, and it didn't taste all that great.

I called in a well water guy, and he sold me a new iron filter and softner, installed for $3500. Seemed to help alot, but there was still a slight odor to the water, and it had a yellowish color. The filter guy didn't smell the odor, and seemed to not really believe me. I lived with it.

I just had a new house built, and moved into it a couple weeks ago. The toilets are already stained (yellow), the shower head has already clogged up, and the water still has a bit of a smell to it. I called in another filtration guy, from a different company this time. He tested the water again, and said that the new iron filter / softner wasn't working properly. He wants to get rid of the filters I have now, and sell me a whole house RO system.

I have no problems paying the $9000 for the RO system, but I want to make sure it is going to do the trick this time, unlike the $3500 I spent a couple months ago. Do you think this setup will provide me with the good quality water I am looking for?

The new system will chlorinate the water coming in from the well, then sent it through a multimedia filter. Then to the RO unit, and to a 150 gallon holding tank where it will then be repressurized for distribution to the house.

My water testing results (raw well water):
iron: 25 ppm
Hardness 50 grains
TDS: 3870 ppm

Thanks for your input, and sorry about the long post!!
 
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Old 01-24-09, 01:53 PM
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What type of media is in the iron filter? With the whole house RO, you still need to filter the water prior to the RO to insure it will last. What type of membrane will it be? Some membranes (TFC) can not have chlorine come in contact with it. For that much iron, I would chlorine it, pass it through a 120gallon retention tank, then on through a 2 cu ft carbon filter and a softener. A 150 gallon holding tank is not very much. What is the output of the RO?
 
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Old 01-24-09, 02:20 PM
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First of all, a whole RO is not recommended for a number of practical, economical and sensiable reasons. Secondly, your test results are not right. And if they had been, then the guy who wants to sell you the RO doesn't understand water treatment equipment.

I won't go into more right now, but get the water tested again and get back with us.

Andy Christensen, CWS-II
 
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Old 01-24-09, 02:25 PM
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Thanks for the info. I'm not sure what the media in the iron filter now. I'll check when I get home.

The new RO system has a multimedia filter after the chlorinatiom process & before the RO process. It is supposed to get rid of the chlorine & most of the junk in the water.

The RO unit outputs 1000 GPD. I think there is supposed to be a holding tank right after the chlorination - again, il check once I get home.

Thanks again for the help!
 
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Old 01-25-09, 11:45 AM
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Ok, I've done a bit more research ...

I'm not sure what type of media is in the current iron filter. The manual just calls it "special media". It says it isn't a chemical oxidizing filter.

Also, in the current iron filter's manual, it mentions tannins. It says if there is greater than 0.5ppm of tannins in the water, the iron filter will not function, as the tannins will form a sticky coating on the media. Seems to me that this is my case - I definately have tannins in my water, and the iron filter is no longer working as it should.

As for the test results, I have had the iron level tested by two different people, both found it to be 25ppm. I just purchased a "Carbonate hardness" testing kit, which resulted in 18 degrees KH of hardness (about 250ppm). To be fair to the guy who tested it the other day, he had the hardness at about 125 grains, and gave up since the solution wasn't changing color with the test kit he had. He listed the hardness on the paperwork he gave me as "50+"

Here is the system he is going to sell me:
THE WATER CLINIC . : . Multi-Tech Separator System

On another note - I tested the hardness of the water coming out of the tap with my CaCO3 hardness testing kit. The water is actually harder coming out of the tap even though it is going through this iron filter and softner. Guess they really aren't doing the job!!
 
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Old 01-25-09, 12:52 PM
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Well, you have very challenging water. At 25ppm iron, that will take significant attention to correct. Normal iron filters will not work for very long. I would consider a twin tank system as these backwash with filtered water and the media will last longer.

Also, in your illustration there was a piece of equipment in the smaller blue tank...is that a softener? If so, that is way too small for 100+gpg. Again a twin tank system would be a benefit for hardness that high. Tannin resins can be added to a softener tank.

The separator is actually an RO, right?

You are using chlorine to oxidize the iron. Any plumbing between the chlorine injection points and where it is flushed out with periodic maintenance will become congested with iron scale build up. Your 40-gal may have to be increased to 200 gallon (80 PLUS 120) and a higher chlorine dosage. Design the system so these pipes can be occasionally removed and cleaned (spin-off connectors) or you will lose flow rate and have to replumb completely.

Hydrogen peroxide and ozone are two other strong oxidants.

Get accurate tests on hardness. Any hardness leaking through the system will punish the RO membrane making that maintenance expensive.

Find out what eaxctly is in the mulit-media filter by media name. You will be adding chlorine and it needs to be removed completely before entering the RO.

There might be a need to do a two stage iron removal.

What is your flow rate at the pressure tank in gpm? Larger systems need adequate flow rate. If not they need to be increased or the equipment won't work as expected.

Do you live in Canada?

Well, 'nuff for now.

Andy Christensen, CWS-II
 
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Old 01-25-09, 02:58 PM
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Thanks for the message and information, Andy. I will call up the place where I am looking at buying the equipment and get some more answers from them.

I think that the small blue tank in the photo on the left hand side is the pressure tank that re-pressurizes the treated water before it is distributed to the house. There is no softner in the system.

The seperator is a RO system.

I am from Canada. I live in an area above a large aquifier. Mostly cattle farms around me, with some crops growing in fields.

Thanks again,
Jason.
 
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Old 01-26-09, 10:07 AM
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Did you have a certified lab tell you tannins were present?

Since you are surrounded by cattle and farms you need to have your water lab tested for nitrates. (manure and nitrogen fertilizer are the culprits, here)

You really should spend $200-$300 on a certified lab test for organic and inorganic chemicals. In other words, EVERYTHING.

Call the mfr of your iron filter and find out what is in there. I'll bet it is BIRM.
 
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Old 01-27-09, 06:58 AM
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I dropped off a water sample to a lab yesterday afternoon for full testing. Should have the results back in a week or so.

The media in the new filter that is supposed to get all the chlorine out before the RO process is a 5 stage media, which includes carbon, gravel and 3 different fine sands.

I spoke with my sales guy who is selling me the RO system. I asked about full testing of the water at a lab, and his response was along the lines that it doesn't really matter since their filtration system will be able to handle anything in my water. He said I could get one done if I wanted, but it wouldn't really matter.

Thanks again for all the help and feedback!!
 
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Old 01-27-09, 08:04 PM
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Originally Posted by jason1234 View Post
He said I could get one done if I wanted, but it wouldn't really matter.
It matters a whole lot. You don't want to be replacing membranes every other month. It sounds to me he is trying to sell you a bills of goods. I've never heard or seen a multi media unit with carbon. The shear amount of chlorine you will need to inject into the water to overcome 25ppm iron will take it's toll on a small amount of carbon. And if's he's mixing it with other media, that tells me it's a small amount.
 
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Old 01-27-09, 08:12 PM
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I agree that it is going to take alot of chlorine to get rid of the iron, and a fair bit of filtering to get rid of all that chlorine before the RO system. The tank holding the bedding material is 10" round by 54" high.

They offer a 100% money back guarentee if the system isn't working as advertised. They are a national company (here in Canada), so I am betting they'll hold true to their warranty. I am going to pick up some testing kits and regularly test the water at different stages through the filtration process to make sure no chlorine or iron is getting past the filter to the RO unit. Figure it can't hurt!

Thanks!!
 
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Old 01-27-09, 08:20 PM
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That's only a 1.5 cu ft tank. They are putting 5 different media's in it? That's 1/4 cf of carbon and I was thinking you need anywhere from 2-3 cf of carbon alone. Big difference. I've never dealt with iron the high before. But I have treated 15ppm iron with a chlorinator and a 1 cf carbon. Worked well. Good luck and keep me posted please.
 
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Old 01-30-09, 10:20 AM
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got the lab results back. Quite different than what the sales guy got for his results.

Iron - 15ppm (sales guy said 25ppm)
TDS - 410 (sales guy said 3870 ppm)
tannins < 2ppm. Not sure what that means exactly - are there some in the water, or that could mean 0
hardness - 333ppm or 19.5 grains (sales guy had "50+")

Not sure what that means for my treatment needs. Should the iron filter / softener be able to handle this water? It isn't now.

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Old 01-30-09, 11:34 AM
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Not sure the size of the iron filter or the softener. To save a lot of money, buy an iron test kit. Do a manual regen on both the iron filter and the softener (use iron out). Test the water for iron after the iron filter and the water softener. This will show you the reduction after both units. May be that the units are too small for the application.
 
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Old 01-30-09, 11:57 AM
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The iron filter is supposed to be able to remove 60,000ppm of iron.

The installers are here installing the new RO system. I figured might as well go for it. They noticed that there was no airator before the iron filter - according to them the iron filter needed to have air injected into it for it to work properly. Perhaps just a cheap air injector was all I needed. Too late now, I guess!

This installer seems to know what he is doing, unlike the previous guy. Hopefully the whole house RO system will work well.
 
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Old 01-30-09, 01:29 PM
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WHOA! 60,000ppm iron. You clearly have your decimal point heading east. And you are putting in a whole house RO. Whewe, my advice to the contrary notwithstanding.

I think I will let it drop here and wish you the best. God Luck!
Andy
 
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Old 01-30-09, 01:56 PM
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Yeah, 60,000 seems like a lot. That's what the manual says under "iron removal capacity"

I was in a rush to get some decent water - I was sick of the crappy water and the problems it was already giving to the fixtures, sinks, toilets, etc. This sales guy was very confident in his RO system, and was able to get it installed right away, so I went with it. Maybe that's saying something about the company I'm dealing with - they had an installer and a system all ready to go as soon as I gave the word.

I didn't mean to go against your advice, Andy. Economical and sensible are two words nobody would describe me as :-) Plus, I wasn't sure what sort of practical reasoning you were getting at against a whole house RO.

Thank you so much everyone for all your help and input into my questions. I truly appreciated all of the great information!!

Just a low-quality photo of the manual page showing the 60,000 ppm iron removal capacity:

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Old 01-30-09, 03:43 PM
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Is it a BREAN? Let me know more about the product. Surely, he must have given you great detail at that price...

Andy Christensen, CWS-II
 
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