Do I really need a water softener with 6.3 grains per gallon?


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Old 03-31-10, 12:17 AM
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Do I really need a water softener with 6.3 grains per gallon?

Here is our situation:
We are on a municipal water system (which gets it's water from several wells in our community). Per the annual report from our water company: Our hardness is 108 ppm (~6.3 grains) ranging from 60 - 160 ppm. TDS 297 (range of 250 - 360). On occassion we do notice a foul odor in the water, but that is very rare. Per the annual report, the water is within all legal limits of what they are required to test for. HOWEVER, we are in a major agriculture area where they do use fertilizers, chemicals, etc. so you know that stuff is leaching into the water table and has to be in the well water that our water company is drawing from. It's just not required to be tested for.

Our house is 6 years old and has never had a water softener or RO system (we've owned if the past 2 years). We've not noticed any problems with scale buildup or signficant spotting, but we do squeegee and wipe down the shower glass after every use. (The shower glass was pretty bad when we first bought the house with thick white film and spots. After lots of scrubbing and elbow grease, we got the showers looking good and have kept them that way). There is a very minor amount of a blue/green coloration at some faucet and shower joints (like where the shower head screws onto the pipe coming out of the wall), but not a lot.

I do have a dry skin/itchy skin problem. Not sure if it has anything to do with the water. I just installed a chlorine filter on our shower head. Haven't had enough time to determine if that makes any difference though.

My dilemma:
I'm trying to determine if we really need a water softener. We've had Culligan, Hague and Kinetico out to give us their respective presentations. Of course, they all want to sell us the entire package of softener, whole house filter system (in the case of Hague), and reverse osmosis. When I asked if we really needed a softener, each rep just kind of shrugged and said "it's really a personal choice", which I take to mean "probably not, but if I said that you wouldn't buy my system!"

While I'm convinced we need to install an RO system I'm not sure about the need for a softener given the hardness and TDS levels of our water. I'd appreciate any feedback from the water experts out there. Do we need a softener, and if so, why?

BTW - For the RO - I will most likely go with the Kinetico K5 system (with the additional VOC filter). Even though I'm fully capable of installing an RO system myself (i.e. like a Watts system), I like the peace of mind knowing that with the K5 we have the best RO system protecting us. Granted, it's a little crazy on the price, but I know I'll sleep better at night not second guessing myself about whether or not our water is really getting properly "cleaned". I costed out the K5 with a VOC filter vs. the Watts RO Pure, replacing the post filter with a Watts LVOC filter. Initial cost for the K5, installed with the VOC filter and ice maker hookup: $1495. For the Watts RO Pure with LVOC filter & ice maker accessory kit, and I do the install: about $300. Based on expected filter replacements and costs for each system, with the K5 requiring significantly less filter replacing, after 5 years, the K5 will still be about $800 more. After 10 years, the K5 is still about $500 more. But, like I said, it's peace of mind with the K5 (or is it that I'm out of my mind)!
 
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Old 03-31-10, 06:12 AM
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Hardness is on a scale of <1 - 10.5. At 6 GPG the water is hard. You say you don't see and build up but yet you wipe down the shower everytime and said the shower was messed up real bad when you first moved in. If you don't wipe the shower will it get messed up again? If it does, think about your water heater, the washer, the pipes and the icemaker. You don't wipe those down so what do you think they look like on the inside. Getting a softener is a personal choice. So is brushing teeth and take regular showers. What level of cleaniness do you want? Do you want to add to the polution by using more soap or have a ton of savings using less?
 
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Old 03-31-10, 06:33 AM
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If you are handy enough to install an RO system then I would expect that you could do a softener as well. Your water analysis suggests that you are getting 9-10 grain hardness at least part of the year. I think you would notice a big improvement if you installed a softener--reduced need for frequent cleaning and reduced usage of soaps and cleaners--longer life from plumbing fixtures and components including the water heater.

As to price--if you buy high quality systems online and do your own installation you can buy and install a softener and RO system for a lot less than the installed Kinetico RO system and the quality will be comparable.

Local dealers who come to the house provide a lot of services and need to recover the higher costs they have. If you can do your own install and can determine what you need then you can save by buying direct online from sellers who don't have the cost structure of a local dealer.

You mention blue green deposits--do you have copper plumbing? If so, and if your water is slightly acid, that could be the result of corrosion of the copper pipes. What is the pH of your water? It should be above 7.0 and if it is not then I would suggest your first priority (providing your pipes are copper) would be to install an acid neutralizing (AN) filter. AN filters will further increase the hardness of the water and a softener is usually installed after the AN filter.
 
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Old 03-31-10, 10:38 AM
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I don't know what our PH is, but I will have it checked before commiting to any system. We do have copper pipes, so there's a good chance the PH is causing the minor blue/green discoloration.

If we did not wipe down the shower glass we would end up with a mess on the glass with white film and deposits, so I guess that suggests a softener would be a good idea.

Any recommendations on RO and water softener systems to consider if I decide to do it myself?
 
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Old 03-31-10, 10:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Beachdog View Post
Any recommendations on RO and water softener systems to consider if I decide to do it myself?
I would recommend a softener with a Fleck or Clack valve. Would need more information to recommend a size--number of people in household, number of baths, whether you have large tubs or multihead showers, and size of your main plumbing line.

Perhaps others can suggest a RO system.
 
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Old 03-31-10, 10:54 AM
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On the blue/green ,,, check and make sure that the water heater is below 120F and that there are no NO elect or phone lines on copper pipes.
To often I have had people for years have no blue/green put in a new water heater and up the temp and get the blue/green, they back the temp down and blue/green goes way..

Remember this on the R.O. systems, for every one gallon that you get to drink 3-4gallons are going down the drain.
R.O.'s are good but there are trade offs with then.
 
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Old 03-31-10, 11:09 AM
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Bob999 - In answer to your questions: Just 2 people in the house (wife and me), with occassional guests (2-4 people for a weekend once every month or so). 3 bathrooms, all with single head showers, plus a jacuzzi tub in master bath (that is rarely used). 1" main water line. We live on the central coast of CA (i.e. minimal rainfall), so we do have irrigation for our landscaping, but that is completely separate from the house plumbing so it would not be pulling water from a softener.

Akpsdvan - As far as I can tell, no electric or phone lines running on or around the pipes. I will have to check the hot water temp (unfortunately, the gauge on the WH doesn't show temperature, just "HOT, Warm, etc.). I'll have to do my own check with a thermometer in the hot water from the tap. I'll adjust the WH accordingly.

I'm aware of the water waste with RO systems. Some are more efficient than others, but they all require 2-5+ gallons for every gallon of processed water. (The Culligan rep said theirs is a 1-1 ratio, but I find that hard to believe).
 
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Old 03-31-10, 11:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Beachdog View Post
Bob999 - In answer to your questions: Just 2 people in the house (wife and me), with occassional guests (2-4 people for a weekend once every month or so). 3 bathrooms, all with single head showers, plus a jacuzzi tub in master bath (that is rarely used). 1" main water line. We live on the central coast of CA (i.e. minimal rainfall), so we do have irrigation for our landscaping, but that is completely separate from the house plumbing so it would not be pulling water from a softener.
I would recommend a 1 cubic foot softener with a Fleck 7000 or Clack WS1 head. You can buy these units online for around $500-550 delivered with the Fleck being about $40 less than the Clack. Both would be excellent units. You will almost certainly need to change the setup that comes on the softener to get good salt efficiency. Assuming typical water usage I would estimate you could operate the unit with about 4 lbs of salt per week with regeneratation approximately once per week.
 
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Old 03-31-10, 11:24 AM
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Bob999 -Thanks for your help! I'll look into on-line "do it myself" softener options based on your suggestions.
 
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Old 03-31-10, 11:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Beachdog View Post
I'm aware of the water waste with RO systems. Some are more efficient than others, but they all require 2-5+ gallons for every gallon of processed water. (The Culligan rep said theirs is a 1-1 ratio, but I find that hard to believe).
Installing a booster pump can improve the efficiency--the improvement will be a function of the amount of pressure boost.
 
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Old 03-31-10, 11:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Beachdog View Post
Bob999 - In answer to your questions: Just 2 people in the house (wife and me), with occassional guests (2-4 people for a weekend once every month or so). 3 bathrooms, all with single head showers, plus a jacuzzi tub in master bath (that is rarely used). 1" main water line. We live on the central coast of CA (i.e. minimal rainfall), so we do have irrigation for our landscaping, but that is completely separate from the house plumbing so it would not be pulling water from a softener.

Akpsdvan - As far as I can tell, no electric or phone lines running on or around the pipes. I will have to check the hot water temp (unfortunately, the gauge on the WH doesn't show temperature, just "HOT, Warm, etc.). I'll have to do my own check with a thermometer in the hot water from the tap. I'll adjust the WH accordingly.

I'm aware of the water waste with RO systems. Some are more efficient than others, but they all require 2-5+ gallons for every gallon of processed water. (The Culligan rep said theirs is a 1-1 ratio, but I find that hard to believe).
On Water Heater there is the A, B and the like, the book should have some thing about he temp with the letter...
Has the blue/green always been there?
If this is city water line, has the city done any work on the water or waste water lines of late?
One local city did some work years ago and did not ground some thing right and one house that had city waste ended up with the out of the water heater getting eaten away... a ground was done from out to in to the main power ground and problem fixed..

An R.O. with a 1:1............. that would be some thing to see... and what temp water was that used on to get that?

How does that go?

If it sounds to?????
 
 

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