Looking for a 3rd opinion on my water situation and treatment units.

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Old 12-03-13, 10:28 PM
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Looking for a 3rd opinion on my water situation and treatment units.

Dear DIY Community,

I am looking to find some additional opinions regarding my current situation. I recently purchased a foreclosed home, and the property has been sitting for about a year. I have spoken to two companies, Culligan for one, and another place called Discount Water Softeners, which is located nearby my place of residence. My initial communication was with my local Culligan Man, to which he happily came out and tested my water. Without filtration or water treatment, my hardness is at 28 GPG and my iron count is at 6 PPM. We went through some discussions (explanation as to what I have, and what would be best for us), and I proceeded to place the current units into production. I then had him come back out about a week later, and my hardness was brought down to 6 GPG and my iron to 2 PPM.

For Reference: My water source is well. My current units are (1) 5" OmniFilter Whole House Filter (currently with a 5 micron filter), (1) Pentair 5600SE (Downflow) 1.5 CUFT Chlorine Draw Iron Out unit (50% chlorine/50% water brine), and (1) .75 CUFT Autotrol 155 Softener. I have two people living in the house, and two full bathrooms. The pipe coming in from the well is 1.25" to the tank, then 1", then ultimately it gets dropped down to .75" by the time it reaches the units. There are a few sections where the units are connected that is currently utilizing .5" pipes, then it goes back up to .75". I will be replacing all of this when I replace the units. From what I have gathered, many of the pipes going to faucets and the like is .5". My well tank is currently at 50 PSI. I am unsure of exactly what the range is on the unit...it may be 30/50, or it may be a bit higher (I think it is, but I am unsure at this time.)

Per the Culligan rep's sales pitch, the softener needs to be replaced; however, the iron unit was working "enough" for their softener to take care of the rest. The had two units, one was a .75 CUFT for $1300 and the other was a 1.0 CUFT for $1800. Needless to say...I'm not paying that much.

Over the course of the past many weeks I have been doing much research on these water units, how they work, best configurations, and the like. I was analyzing my current situation and trying to figure out if it would be more cost effective to re-bed my units, or just buy new ones overall. After discussions with the second company, I have ultimately decided to purchase new units. I do not know the age of these units...for all I know they were put into production in 2005 when the old owner bought the place. However, seeing as they are not performing up to spec and I really do not know their age, I felt the best route to take was start from scratch.

But I digress, my main reason for this post is my confusion in discussions with the second company. Per conversations with people I know and also a comment made by the Culligan rep, it was suggested that I purchase one or two of the big blue 10" units as pre-filters to the iron out unit. This logic coincided with the other discussions I had with my father-in-law as well as other people I know who have well water.

In discussions with the second company, I was urged NOT to purchase pre-filters. They stated "No sediment filters. Sediment filters will only create more work and more problems with flow." I attempted to respond to their comment stating that I am aware that I do have sediment in my water, in addition to dissolved iron and iron bacteria (probably hydrogen sulfide too). This is the reason that I have the current chlorine brine draw system. They then stated in another response "You do not want a filter designed to catch solids in place in an attempt to catch dissolved particles. It's not the right application". From further discussions, it sounds like they did not want the WHF to catch dissolved iron, rather, they wanted the unit itself to treat that part of the water. They stated that if I really insist on sediment protection, there is a Twist II Clean product that they stated I could use, instead of the standard filters. After reading up on it, it seems like a very efficient product, and I may just do that.

Regardless, I tested my water again today. I removed all conditioners from the system, and my filter. I ran the water in the bathtub for a while to pump in the non-filtered water, and I was able to identify sediment. I have also been able to identify sediment in the WHF after about 3 months or so of light use.

I am hoping someone can shed some light on the whole "don't get a pre-sediment filter" comment from this place. I have tried to get a response as to why, and I just pretty much get a "it's not needed". My gut is telling me I should get a sediment filter, and honestly...I'm probably going to buy two of the 20" WHF so I can keep a better GPM going into my units (the softener states it requires 12GPM and the 10" Big Blues only say they do 10 whereas the 20" does 15). My other question that I was trying to get answered, was if it was necessary to have a pre-filter to the softener unit from the iron out unit. Since the iron out unit uses chlorine, it essentially chlorinates the water RIGHT before the softener. From my research, chlorine is bad for a softener. This is the reason that they sell 10% cross-link mesh, for people who have city water that is heavily chlorinated, or the like. I would think in my situation, having a chlorine producing machine right before the softener would provide the same amount of chlorine into the water. I was trying to find out if I needed perhaps a carbon filter between the units to help remove chlorine from making it's way into the softener.

The setup I am currently looking at is the following. This is "my" proposed setup using company #2's recommendations. This includes using WHF (few possible choices depending on the feedback I receive here). This list goes in order of flow. I have placed URLs for the products in addition for additional information.


I realize the volume of questions here is many, and I am hoping that someone will be able to assist me with them. I am open to all suggestions, and if it turns out that I really won't need the sediment filter (in which case I'll probably go with the Twist II Clean unit just so I feel better about it), then that's fine. Like the title says...I'm looking for another opinion.

If you've gotten this far down into the post, I thank you for your time reading my woes and I look forward to see what the responses are! In addition, if someone is requesting additional information from what I have above please let me know and I will answer it to the best of my ability.

Thank You!
 
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Old 12-04-13, 08:13 AM
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I say the same thing to my customers as to not installing a prefilter. Let the other filters (softener or iron filter) do the brunt of the work. With prefilter you will restrict the flow over time and have more maintenance. The down side to that is if it is sediment, it may cause scratches in the valve so it's best to remove. With your current iron filter, it sounds as though the unit draws the chlorine solution during a cleaning cycle. If this is the case, the softener is not subject to chlorine degration because the chlorine is drawn into the iron filter only and rinsed before it goes to the softener.

Now for a 3rd suggestion. I would use a chlorinator, retention tank, auto back washing carbon filter then a softener. When you inject the chlorine into the water it will kill the bacteria. You mentioned iron bacteria but no one has addressed it. Then the water will go into the retention tank where the iron and sulfur is oxidized. The sediment will settle to the bottom as well as a lot of the iron. The carbon filter will catch the remaining iron, sulfur and chlorine. The last step is to soften the water. You talked about flow rate. The only item in this set up that will effect the flow rate is the softener. With your other suggestions, every piece of equipment will effect the flow rate. This set up will cost a little more but will last longer and insure no bacteria reaches the house.
 
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Old 12-04-13, 09:45 AM
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Regarding your comment about my current iron unit. I was making an assumption that it was the same type functionality as is with a softener; however, I may have been assuming wrong on how those units work, and the brine is really only used to just clean, not replace the particles with chlorine like the way salt ion exchanges work. If that is the case, that makes sense then.

As for the iron bacteria, I was being told and again (under assumption), that the chlorine iron backwash system would help to remove dissolved iron and iron bacteria from the water, along with hydrogen sulfide if it exists. However, it appears that I am mistaken that this is not the case. Is this the reason for the suggestion of the retention tank? It sounds like the unit I was recommended kind of does both the duties of an iron filter and retention tank, or am I mistaken? I found an image online (Iron Bacteria - a Common Well Water Problem in Minnesota Private Wells) of a disinfectant/retention tank/iron filter setup, and from what I know of the unit I have (and the one I'm looking to replace it with), it appears that it may be an all-in-one type situation; whereas, what you suggested and what is shown on the image basically splits the duties across multiple tanks?

The company I was looking at appears to not have the retention tank type solution in stock. Would you be able to point me in the direction of a few places that may have this so I can research? Thanks!
 
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Old 12-04-13, 02:03 PM
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Most online dealers would be able to sell a set up with the retention tank and chlorinator. I would also think that any water treatment company would be able to provide that type of equipment if requested. It did sound to me your current iron filter system does draw brien in the same way a softener does. This does not rid the water of iron bacteria. It keeps the filter media clean so it is not fouled out by the bacteria.
 
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Old 12-04-13, 03:13 PM
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So basically these all-in-one type units are really just a next step up from a WHF filter: one that cleans itself (with chlorine) and backwashes the particles out...rather than a system that will rid the water of the issue?

I'm in the process now of trying to find a lab that will test for iron bacteria. Unfortunately the lab I previously had my standard bacteria test does not test for iron bacteria any longer since it is not a health threat, and is only considered to be a nuisance bacteria.

My largest concern is making sure my laundry does not start to turn red and my toilet bowls do not stain. If the iron bacteria itself it not harmful, and I was to use a unit such as this all-in-one system, will I still be running into staining problems? Or does the water need to sit for a while in order to cause issue when iron bacteria remains in the water; however, the dissolved sediment and iron is blocked at the filter? Or is iron bacteria pretty much considered the "dissolved iron"?

I have much more information now on the situation, and I thank you for your assistance with this. I never realized how much being a homeowner required of research and knowledge (if you opt to do-it-yourself), until I was in this position!

Edit: I spoke with the lab again and was discussing the situation with one of the higher-ups there. Basically as long as I can get my iron below .3 PPM I should not stain. The nuisance I will be running into is the biomass that will be created by the iron bacteria after it makes its way through the system and ends up in the water. I am not concerned with removing the bacteria as much as I am removing the stains. If the bacteria is not harmful, then that's fine. I'm only using the water for showering and other common water. I have a RO system with a 8 or so gallon tank hooked up to my kitchen for properly filtered water.

Does my information above seem correct?
 

Last edited by etchavious; 12-04-13 at 03:34 PM.
 

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