Yet another water treatment help request

aj33February 6, 2014

Hi All,

I have been reading through lots of postings related to water treatment and having read the complexity of it all, decided to seek help with my specific situation. It is a new house with a 350 ft deep well. I had a lab test my water. It has the following issues:

iron is 3.3 mg/l
Manganese is 0.07 mg/l

Hardness reported by a well guy's test - 6 grains.

pH is 7.5

Well provides a flow of 15 gpm.

2 occupants in the house
2 bathrooms with regular showers, no tubs

Piping: 1 inch to water tank. 3/4 inch out from water talk. 1/2 inch to faucets etc.

I am hoping to get a salt free system. I am considering two systems in series:

- Terminox resin based system for removal of Iron/Mn/Sulphur - such as (not sure yet if meets all the desirables posted by experts on this forum)
- TAC based scale buildup preventer - such as

Thank you so much for your help in advance.


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If your concern is only for your appliances and water heater, the TAC system may do the job for you. However, it can't and won't prevent spotting in sinks, showers, etc because the calcium and magnesium will still be there when the water evaporates. They may wipe up more easily, but that will depend upon your specific water conditions - these things work a bit differently with each water. You would need to be certain your water contained absolutely no hydrogen sulfide and be aware the media will need to be replaced in 3-5 years. A 10 gpm system should be fine for your needs. It would contain 3.5 liters of media at between $140-$150 per liter -- $490-$525 every 3-5 years. By contrast, a softener over 5 years will cost about $70 in salt if you choose to install a separate iron-removal unit (recommended) or $200 if you choose to use a softener to remove the iron.

Some light reading regarding iron removal methods. These assume clear-water iron. If your iron is particulate, removal would be via filtration.

  1. Oxidation/Filtration: An oxidizer such as ozone, air, or chlorine may be used to react with the iron and force it to become particulate iron that can then be removed via filtration. A typical setup would involve the oxidizing unit, a holding tank, then a media filter. This type of system works quite well, but takes some expertise in sizing - you would want a water treatment pro that you trust to help you with this option.
  2. Oxidizing filtration media: This type of treatment consists of a sealed tank filled with one of several media. Water passes through and is oxidized and filtered by the media. These are relatively easy to operate and what I would recommend for the average homeowner. There are several different media that can be used:
  • manganese greensand: water runs through for treatment. The media must be regenerated with potassium permanganate. Care must be taken with dealing with potassium permanganate as it readily dies organic material, such as your skin, a purple-brown color. Some people are quite comfortable dealing with the chemical; others are not.

  • Synthetic greensand: This is essentially the same as option (a) but consists of a coating of greensand on a silica sand core so does not require as much backwash flow. Service flow rate is 2 - 5 gpm/sqft. Backwash flow rate is 12 gpm/sqft.

  • birm: This media acts as a catalyst to force oxidation of iron. While it does not need to be regenerated, it does need fairly high dissolved oxygen in the water. If your water does not have adequate dissolved oxygen (and it probably doesn't since it is well water), air injection would be necessary prior to the birm. Additionally, birm requires a minimum pH of 6.8.. Service flow rate is 3.5 - 5.0 gpm per sqft. Backwash flow rate is 11 - 20 gpm, depending upon water temperatures and desired bed expansion.

  • pyrolox: an ore that oxidizes then filters the iron out. It does not need regeneration, but needs to be backwashed (to...

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 1:37PM
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Thanks Alice.

I am not sure if it'll be acceptable to deal with the white spots till we have experienced them.

It seems what you are suggesting seems to be the thought behind my well guy's recommendation of using KDF 85 in a salt based system. He must be thinking of reduced salt consumption by using KDF media. Price had gone up from $1800 to $2500 though for a system that included KDF media.

Is it some what equivalent to your suggestion of two different systems? One for iron/Manganese and the other for hardness. Does it also mean - backwashing two units?

Has anybody lived with hardness in the neighborhood of 6 grains? More than one person has suggested doing nothing about it.

Thanks for the info about cost differential - it is indeed significant.


    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 2:56PM
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Never get a mixed media system - maintenance is difficult, one media will always need to be replaced while the other is still fine, but you'll have to replace both, and you'll end up with damaged resin. Just a bad idea all the way around.

With separate units (one for Fe/Mn, the other for hardness) both would need to be backwashed - the softener based on water usage and the iron removal system daily.

Lots of people choose to live with hardness - it's a matter of what you can live with in terms of cleaning effort and shorter water heater and appliance life.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 3:19PM
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I also like the idea of two systems instead of one. Thanks for validating that.

Any comments on the iron removal system ( ? Are there better ones out there?

Are there any TAC variant systems out there that may be less expensive to maintain?

What kind of salt based softener would work for my situation? Any recommendation on a specific system?


    Bookmark   February 7, 2014 at 8:45AM
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Terminox has gotten good results. Like any of the iron-removal methods I listed, it will depend on water conditions. When dealing with well waters, dissolved oxygen will be a concern with any system. You will want to know how much dissolved oxygen your water has in order to determine the best system for your water. This requires a special procedure for sampling that you will need to discuss with the lab that will be doing the test.

TAC variants: They will all be expensive to maintain - the media is not cheap.

Softeners: If you decide to purchase a softener, a 0.75 cubic ft softener will work nicely for your situation. If you install a separate iron removal system upstream, the softener will only need to regen every couple of weeks. If you choose to use only the softener, it will regen every 4 days.

As to specific systems, this is where your research takes place. I can tell you what to specify, and help to evaluate quotes once you have them, but ultimately you are the one that has to have a comfort level with the vendor you choose.

I suggest starting with the local water treatment pros to see what they can offer. The benefit of this approach is having someone to turn to if something goes wrong. You pay for that benefit, of course, but for most people it is the way to go. If you decide to order online, you will be provided only what you specify and any and all problems are yours to diagnose and fix. Provided you are comfortable with that, it can be a good option. Be aware that though you will spend less money, you will spend more time.

The following requirements are for an industry standard softener. If you are looking for a non-electronic softener, Kinetico offers the more reliable options at a premium price (and you would need to deal with a local Kinetico rep). Any decent softener vendor should be able to provide the following:

  • High quality American or German made resin. This will provide a tight size distribution for optimal flow within the resin

  • Since you have WELL WATER: 8% crosslinked resin.

  • Top basket. This serves two purposes. It sets up a proper water distribution during normal operation and prevents resin loss during backwash.

  • Gravel underbed. The gravel underbed is there to set up proper flow patterns, improve backwash, keep the bottom basket in place and prevent basket failure, and prevent channeling. Many softener sales companies like to leave this out or sell softeners with a vortex system instead. Vortex systems weigh less than gravel so they cost less to ship. In addition, they are a more expensive item that adds profit for the softener salesperson, but provides no additional benefit to the homeowner . It simply adds another piece of equipment that can break.

  • Fleck or Clack valves. These set the industry standard. Be aware that you will not be able to purchase Clack valves online. This is not a problem if you purchase locally.

  • The valve should regen based on...

    Bookmark   February 7, 2014 at 10:57AM
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Sounds like a plan. I will talk to local water guys as well as internet vendors.

What is the purpose of two bypass valves? One is Noryl. Other crated by 3 valves. I am pretty sure I understand the use of 3 valve bypas install. I thought Noryl bypass would have been for sending the water straight through as well.
It seems that if I install the 3 valve bypass, then I won't need the Noryl bypass?

Thanks for all your help.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2014 at 4:07PM
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It is a redundancy. If you wish to go with just one, install the 3-valve bypass. The noryl bypass is nice to have, but you can live without it if you wish.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2014 at 7:15PM
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I got some specific information about the systems: - 12" Terminox
followed by - A 30k Demand Softener
and then - for drinking, they recommend - 4 stage reverse osmosis

I also got answers from them regarding type of resin etc.:

"1.) American high quality resin.
2.) Not 8%, our resin will get level to zero but we can use 8% if desired and make any adjustments.
3.) We use top baskets.
4.) No need for gravel bedding on Terminox because we use vortech tanks. When not vortec, under bedding is used.
5.) We use Autotrol Performa Valves. The best on the market in our opinion but again we can use what youâÂÂd prefer and make any adjustments."
regarding "8% cross linked resin : Is more than this number desirable or less? or it has to be exact for well water?

I'll ask for gravel underbed instead of Vortec and hope that it reduces the price also...

Regarding "DO" - The lab wasn't too willing to do this test - they only do it for waste water for commercial situations. They might come out and do this test for $80.
Budget water said that they don't need to see DO levels for their system. Please let me know if I should insist on getting DO levels tested?

Any other comments? On the sizes of each system as well as Autotrol valves.

Many thanks in advance.


    Bookmark   February 14, 2014 at 3:57PM
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  1. American company or American manufacturing?

  2. Ask what specific resin they would recommend.

  3. Good - should be the one that goes with the valve. Fleck valve - Fleck basket, not a knock-off.

  4. For Terminox, that' is there proprietary media, so follow their recommendations. My recommendations were for the softener.

  5. I'm okay with Autotrol for the iron filter, but find them less flexible for softening and prefer Fleck.

Resin crosslinking affects the strength of the resin and its ability to withstand chemicals and varying osmotic pressure. More crosslinking = stronger resin. More than 8% is generally not necessary unless you have city water.

If Budget says DO is not necessary, leave the test off. You may, however, want to obtain a performance guarantee from them.

The softener size they suggested is fine.

For drinking, aside from the iron, you have good water. If you prefer the taste of RO water, then go ahead and install one. You may wish to consider running a separate line to a drinking water faucet from downstream of the iron filter, but upstream of the softener.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2014 at 10:34AM
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Last night I got a reply from the company. They say that Resin is manufactured in USA.

They can adjust the resin as per customer's wishes but they believe they have the best setup now.

I really like the idea of running drinking water before softener.

In fact, I plan to hold off installing the softener till we start using the system and see problems.

It seems, I have the best solution for my situation.

I am grateful for your help and thoroughly impressed with your knowledge of industry AND the subject matter- very hard to come by.



    Bookmark   February 19, 2014 at 10:14AM
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Hi AJ,

Wondering how you fared with the Terminox and no softener? We're considering the same system and would also like to forego the softener. similar iron and manganese levels to yours, more hardness but 0 on the Langeliers Index, so very little scale.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 9:41PM
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