Problem with water spots on chrome fixtures (PICS)

mrmichaeljmooreFebruary 13, 2011

I am having a problem with spots on chrome fixtures.

I am on well water.

Location: Connecticut

Here is my raw water analysis:

Hardness - 21 GPG (grains per gallon)

Iron - 0.05 mg/l (ferrous)

Manganese - ND (not detected)

pH - 7.3 standard units

TDS (total dissolved solids) - 472 ppm

My treated water analysis (done by a local lab):

Copper - none detected

Iron - none detected

Manganese - none detected

Chloride - 11.9 mg/L

Hardness- none detected

Sodium - 110.7 mg/L

Nitrate as N - none detected

Nitrite as N - none detected

Color - 0

Odor - 0

PH - 7.8

Turbidity - 0.3 NTU

Sulfate - 40.5 mg/L

TDS - 364 ppm

My existing water treatment setup (in order of water flow):

1. Big Blue sediment cartridge filter

2. Autotrol 255/762 48K water softener (installed in 2006)

3. Big Blue RFC cartridge filter

I confirmed that water is at 0 gpg hardness at all fixtures using a Hach 5B Hardness Test Kit.

Attached are some pictures. I hope they help in diagnosing this problem.

The pictures labeled Basement Shower show fixtures that have been in service only for a few months.

The pictures labeled Upstairs Shower show fixtures that have been in service for a few years.

As you can see, the spotting/scaling on the Upstairs Shower fixtures is much more extensive.

UPSTAIRS SHOWER (in service for a few years):



On both fixtures, I was able to scrape away some portion (not completely, some spots could not be removed by scraping) of the water spots using my fingernail. Does that give any indication as to the source of the spotting/scaling?

I tried to clean the Upstairs Shower Head valve chrome handle with CLR.

I put the handle in undiluted CLR and let it sit for about a minute,

I wiped the handle with a sponge. Rinsed with cold water. But the spots still remained.

I soaked it again for about a minute. This time, I scrubbed it with a green scrub pad. The spots came off, but it did leave some faint scratch marks on the handle. So, I wont be using the green pad anymore.

Thanks for the help anyone can provide.

If you need more info to help diagnose the problem, let me know and I will get it to you....


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Seen it many times... @ 21gpg hardness the spotting you see is the sodium (or potassium) that is ion exchanged into the hard water (to make it soft) precipitating out of solution onto surfaces where you leave the water to evaporate.

Sodium (or potassium) ions are exchanged into the raw water at roughly 2 to 1 to remove hardness and manganese ions and iron making the water soft.

Along with that, if your softener is undersized for peak demand, as most unfortunately are, hard water leaks through at max SFR and can add to the spotting.

Salt spots are best managed by wiping down the wet surfaces with RO water before the spots dry. Hardness spotting can be dealt with by wiping down the surfaces with a highly diluted white vinegar solution before the spots dry.

If you let the spots dry after a time they will etch the surface and the finish will suffer which it appears is where you are now.

If you haven't been using Iron-Out (or a similar product) routinely then the resin may not be regenerating at it's best capacity.

How often does your softener regenerate?

How many people in the house?

How many bathrooms?

Any high use appliances like a Jacuzzi?

    Bookmark   February 13, 2011 at 9:46PM
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Thanks for the reply....

To answer your questions:
1. I have never used a product called Iron-Out. Never heard of it actually. Plus, my water has very little Iron. Do I still need this?

2. My softener regenerates as needed based upon the settings and usage. But, it is set to regenerate every 10 days if I don't reach the predetermined limit. It is a 48K unit.

3. 2 adults, 1 toddler, 1 infant

4. 2 Full Bathrooms

5. No high use appliances

In speaking with the company I purchased the softener from (and the local lab that did the water testing), they said that if the spots were sodium, they would wipe away with just a damp cloth. Not true?

Also, you mentioned wiping down the fixtures after each use, either with RO water for salt or vinegar for hardness.....
Is this normal for a home with a water softener system such as mine?

Are there any other solutions to this problem?
Id really hate to see my new basement shower, with the chrome fixtures and the chrome on the glass shower door ruined in the same way as the upstairs bathroom....


    Bookmark   February 13, 2011 at 10:43PM
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1. Yes, you have iron. Only .05 ppm but you have iron. Once a month dissolve a 1/4 cup of Iron Out or Super Iron Out (most box stores carry it) in a couple gallons of warm water and pour it down the brine well (4" tube where the float lives) in the brine tank and do a manual regeneration. Don't spill it or get it in your eyes.

2. Setup correctly with your water conditions the softener should regenerate every 6 or 7 days with a calendar override set at 8 days. Do you know what salt dose and hardness removal capacity the softener is set at?

Salt spots will wipe away with a damp cloth but you'll only be spreading the salt water not removing it... right? If you have an RO then RO water works wonders getting minerals back into solution and removing them from a surface. With your hardness and TDS I hope you have a quality RO under the kitchen sink for drinking, cooking, and ice cubes but if not, then distilled water works well also.

High hardness water presents this problem and the solution (no pun intended) is preventative maintenance in the form of timely cleanup so the sodium in the water doesn't etch the chrome and glass.

Don't wash your car with your soft water and then let it air dry... spot city.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2011 at 11:25PM
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My softener setup is as follows:

The salt dose is set at 9lbs/ft. I am pretty sure that is the default setting.
The capacity is set at 48k.
I use Morton System Saver II softener salt from Costco.

No, I don't have an RO.
Actually, we don't drink the water. We don't like the taste of it. You can definitely taste the sodium in the we have one of those 5 gallon coolers of spring water.

So, in order to save my fixtures I need to wipe the chrome and glass dry after each shower? Not to sound ungrateful, but what a pain. I do squeegee the shower door glass, but I guess I'll have to keep a towel handy so I can wipe down the chrome now too.....ugh...

What about the effects on the tile/grout? Any issues there I should be aware of?

On another message board, someone suggested silica as my problem.....any chance it could be that?


    Bookmark   February 13, 2011 at 11:45PM
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@ 21 gpg I can understand that you don't like the taste of the water. you should REALLY consider an RO.

Merely wiping the the chrome or squeegeeing the glass will still leave sodium on the surface. Since RO water and distilled water have been stripped of minerals they are the universal solvent and will lift minerals from the surface an that is your goal... to remove the sodium.

Your softener seller should have taken the time to explain the conditions of your water, what they proposed as treatment and what you should expect but based on the setting of your softener they don't know much about how to program a softener for efficient operation so I'm not surprised they didn't.

A 1.5 cu ft softener at max salt dose of 15 lbs/cu ft (22.5 lbs of salt for 1.5 cu ft resin) only yields 45,000 and will never see 48,000

Is your salt setting 9 lbs/cu ft or 9 lbs TOTAL salt dose? It makes a big difference.

There is a possibility that the programming in the softener control valve is not allowing an adequate time for rinse after brining but then the water would really taste salty... like sea water.

Living with really hard water involves a little maintenance and so does living with a well and living in the country. If it's any consolation there are people living with far harder water than you have.

No, it is not silica. Your pictures are textbook illustrations of evaporated sodium and/or hardness.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2011 at 12:13AM
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You might try switching over to KCl (potassium chloride) as a regenerant. It cost a lot more than NaCl but it is worth a try.

Around here Costco, WalMart, Sam's Club, and Home Depot carry it. costs around $14- $16 a 40 lb bag but HD gouges us for $24.

You can just let your salt run low (NOT RUN OUT) and add the KCl on top. Only add as much as you need to cover the water. Don't fill the brine tank up... a good practice in any case.

Normally the salt dose would change with the change to KCl and your hardness but your salt dose is high anyway so we can leave that alone for the time being.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2011 at 9:17AM
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The hardness of your untreated water does not account for the severe water-spotting you are experiencing. Neither is your TDS terribly high. Sodium spots on faucets should be relatively easy to remove with vinegar and a cloth. The difficulty you are having removing the spots suggests sodium alone is not the culprit, which leaves you with some potential problems: 1) Your softener may be undersized, allowing hardness to blow through under high-flow conditions, 2) You softener may be set incorrectly, not regenerating often enough, incorrect salt dosage, or have some mechanical problem affecting the brine portion of regeneration, 3)You may, indeed, have high silica in your water.

Both silica and hard water spots can be difficult to remove mechanically. If the spots are partially from hard water, acid cleaners, such as vinegar, CLR or Lime-Away will work. Silica spots, however, are acid-based so acidic cleaners will have virtually no effect. You might try scrubbing with a paste of baking soda, or use a strong alkaline cleaner and see if that works. Once you have the faucets clean, you may wish to apply a sealant, such as those used to cause water to sheet from glass rather than beading up, to make it more difficult for any minerals to stick.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2011 at 11:09AM
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I checked the softener manual. The salt dose is default set at 9 pounds per ft cubed.
I will have to double check the estimated capacity tonight when I get home. I think it said 48KG, but I will confirm tonight.

Unfortunatley, the KCl is rather expensive around here too. I'll have to keep an eye out to see if I can find it cheap. But I'm not confident.....

I gotta be honest....I had no idea that the high sodium is so corrosive. That's really frustrating to trade one corrosive (hardness) for another (sodium). Don't get me wrong, I hate showering in hard water....much much prefer the soft water for showering. But, you can understand my frustrations....especially when I thought I was doing everything by the book (sediment filter, softener, csrbon filter) to give my family and home good water.....

Any suggestions on what to use to clean the sodium spots? I may try that Mr.Clean Magic Eraser.....

Are there any ways to tweak my softerner to get 0 hardness (or close to 0) but get better salt effciency or reduce the salt usage, there by reducing sodium in the treated water?

I may give RainX a try. I use it on my vehicles regualrly, so hopefully that will help reduce some of the spotting.

Not sure if this helps, but my softener unit is the following:
Logix 762 control wih an Autotrol 255 valve
48k grain unit
1.5 FT3 C-249 ion exchange resin

Do you think the softener is undersized?

thanks to both of you for the help.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2011 at 12:48PM
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Soft water is preferable to hard water. Hardness (calcium) does damage to plumbing, appliances, and fixtures. Your complaint is a cosmetic consideration and absolutely valid.

I respect Alice but disagree with him on this subject... as hardness goes up the amount of sodium in the water increases and can (and does) manifest itself as more severe water spotting. The amount off sodium has not increased as to be a health consideration (unless one is on a no salt diet) but does cause cosmetic problems. Once sodium has etched a chrome surface there is no easy retreat back to a mirror finish. The etching must be removed and that means a loss of chrome to some degree... like compounding or polishing out scratches from your car's paint.

From the info you have provided I believe your softener is not set up to operate efficiently. It does appear that a 1.5 cu ft softener is slightly undersized for your family of four and as the kid get bigger it will regenerate more often.

If you want to reprogram your softener for most efficient operation set it as follows...

hardness 22
system size = 1.5 cu ft of resin
calendar override = 8
salt amount = 6 lbs/cu ft

Should regenerate every 6 days or so and use less salt.

If your softener is operating correctly (doesn't have a problem) this should make a difference. Let us know how it goes.

If you don't have the complete 762 manual copy and paste this URL...

    Bookmark   February 14, 2011 at 1:28PM
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Yes, of course sodium content of softened water is higher with harder water. And sodium will cause spotting. Agreed. The amount of spotting, however, is excessive for it to be due only to sodium at the concentrations in this case (unless, no one ever wipes the faucets?).

If you are curious, you can determine whether your softener operates well under various conditions. Takes samples: 1)Shortly after regen, 2) shortly before regen, 3) During high water use, 4) During very low water use.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2011 at 4:26PM
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Looking at the 762 manual it doesn't seem that the cycle times are variable but rather determined by an algorithm based on hardness, resin volume, and salt dose. Crunching the #s it looks like the OP's softener isn't setup right. I think if he resets the softener as I've suggested above it will mitigate or eliminate his over spotting problem. IMO, he will still have to wipe down the chrome and glass and using either RO or distilled water really works very well to migrate minerals like sodium off those surfaces,

All our suggestions don't preclude that the softener has an actual problem or less resin than the 1.5 cubes it should have but we can't see that over the net. Any brine pickup problem would result in less salt in the resin not more. If the 762 went wacky I guess it could be introducing too much water for brine but I think the OP would have noticed that.

Now the OP has some things to try that won't cost him any or little money.


Check to make sure that the drain line from the control valve is not pinched, collapsed, or restricted in any way. If it is, the rinse cycle won't remove all the salt from the resin. Your seller should have used the semi rigid milky white PE (polyethylene) tubing for the drain line and not the clear vinyl soft stuff. There should be a code required airgap where the drain line meets the drain. Make sure that airgap is working properly.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2011 at 5:00PM
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Since the amount of sodium in the treated water is determined by the amount of hardness in the water and the effectiveness of the exchange process, making the softener more salt-efficient will improve the operating cost but will not decrease spotting. A brine pick-up problem would result in less-than-complete regeneration, which would result in more hardness breakthrough, increasing spotting.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2011 at 5:59PM
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And a more efficient use of salt would mitigate the inability to control the cycle times and might(?) provide a more effective rinse.

There is no downside to setting up the softener to operate efficiently and not waste salt and water and to not go longer between regenerations than optimum for longest resin life regardless of whether it solves the spotting problem.

We really have to wait for the OP to do some stuff but the more I think about it the more I think the over spotting might be drain line related.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2011 at 6:07PM
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I am in error... re-reading the 762 manual it does seem there is some control over some cycle times but for now MM has other things to try.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2011 at 8:48PM
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I dropped off a water sample to my local lab for testing.
They are going to test for TDS and Silica. They are also going to test for Bacteria (I shocked my well over the summer, just want to be sure no bacteria is present).
I will post the results when I get them from the lab.

I cleaned the Basement Shower chrome last night.
I used Nevr Dull polish. Worked really well. Removed the water spots to bring back the nice shiny chrome finish.
Now, just to come up with a solution to keep it that way........

RE: the Drain line and the air gap.
I am using the tubing justalurker described as milky white PE tube. The drain line empties into my utility sink/tub next to my washing machine. As far as an air gap, the tube terminates near the top of the sink tub and pours into the tub. Will that suffice? I'll take a picture of the drain line and post to be sure.

RE: adjusting the water softener settings
I am a bit confused here. It seems like you are only changing the amount of salt used during regeneration (from 9 to 6) and the calendar override from 10 to 8.
Then, you say the softener should regenerate every 6 days or so. How does merely changing the salt dosage and calendar override change the frequency in which the softener regenerates?
Under the current softener settings, every time the softener regenerates, the softener display screen indicates a certain amounts of gallons before regenerating again (usually around 2000 or so gallons). As you use water, it indicates the water flow in gallons per minute and the # of gallons before regenerating goes down. I don't think I ever reach the 2000 gallon number; I think i usually hit the current 10 day calendar override before regenerating.
See my confusion?

You wrote: "The amount of spotting, however, is excessive for it to be due only to sodium at the concentrations in this case (unless, no one ever wipes the faucets?)."
My wife and I generally will clean our bathrooms once a week. With the glass shower door, we squeegee that after each shower. We don't wipe down the entire shower or fixtures though....but, does anyone out there really wipe/dry their entire shower after each use?
I may get me and my wife to do that if necessary, but I highly doubt I will get my daughters to do that once they are on their own for baths in a few years, especially the teenage years!!
But, I do agree with you that the spotting seems excessive for my water chemistry. Hopefully, we can come up with a solution....

What is the effect of the sodium/spotting on the ceramic tile? Will it ruin the glaze? Dull the tile?


    Bookmark   February 16, 2011 at 11:42AM
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Reducing the salt used during regeneration makes your softener more salt efficient, but also provides a slightly less complete regeneration. This reduces the amount of time your softener can run before needing to be regenerated.

The calendar override is very important. 10 days is too long. As your softener is in normal operation, water is flowing down through the resin bed. This slowly compacts the bed over time, increasing pressure on the resin beads. This pressure, over time, weakens and then breaks the beads. The longer you leave it without backwashing (which cleans out debris and re-fluffs [nice techie term there] the bed) the greater the damage. For home use I recommend no more than 7 days between regens. However, eight is probably okay. Ideally, softeners would be equipped with a control system that would allow a backwash without a regeneration for cases where hardness is not terribly high, but most don't so you have to make a trade-off between extra salt usage from more frequent regeneration and extra resin bead damage from less frequent regenerations.

I was being tongue in cheek when I suggest no one was wiping the faucet. It would really be a huge pain to have to dry the shower after every use. It might, however, be worthwhile to get a bottle of the stuff you can spray in the shower and use it after your showers - it does help and, although a bit of a hassle, is easier than scrubbing and scraping.

As to the tile, the spotting could eventually give it a dull appearance, but will take much longer to cause any damage compare to the chrome.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2011 at 12:12PM
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RE: the Drain line and the air gap. That will do. Make sure the tubing is not kinked.

RE: adjusting the water softener settings. By lowering the salt dose the hardness removal capacity (called the "K") of the (set) volume of resin lowers also and there will be less gallons shown between regenerations.

" I don't think I ever reach the 2000 gallon number; I think i usually hit the current 10 day calendar override before regenerating. See my confusion?".

You are confused because you don't know and I'm trying to tell you what to do to set up your softener to operate efficiently and cut down on the amount of salt you use and to stop wasting your soft water.

Your softener is set up to use too much salt which will provide too many gallons between the optimum regeneration intervals so you never use all the softened water your 1.5 cubes of resin could provide set up the way it is now. By lowering the K of the 1.5 cubes of resin by lowering the salt dose there will be fewer gallons of soft water treated and you will use most all of it between the optimal regeneration interval of 6-7 days.

In other words... using more salt to get more gallons of soft water and then not using all the soft water but going longer between regenerations is wasting salt and water, but using less salt and getting less gallons of soft water and using most all of it between more frequent regeneration is actually more water and salt efficient. You may not understand but if you do the math over a year you'll find you use less salt and that saves you money.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2011 at 12:15PM
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The algorithm in the 762 will lower the hardness removal capacity of the 1.5 cu ft of resin when it sees the change to a lower salt dose and lower the number of gallons of soft water between regenerations.

Most contemporary electronic control valves allow the hardness removal capacity to be set rather than the volume of resin and relying on a predetermined algorithm. That's why the Logix is not a favorite of mine.

If you change the settings in your 762 as I have instructed you will use less salt (making the rinse cycle more effective), waste less softened water, and regenerate more frequently than every 10 days which is better for the resin. The changes may mitigate your spotting problem to some degree not withstanding that your softener doesn't actually have a problem.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2011 at 3:12PM
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I got one of the test results from the water sample I dropped off Tuesday.
TDS: 476 mg/L (consistent with previous levels)
Silica was not done yet...maybe tomorrow or Monday.


I adjusted the settings on my softener.
6lbs for salt. Calendar Override 8 days.
Sorry I was confused in my earlier post. I didn't realize the system would automatically lower the K when I lowered the amount of salt used during regernation.

I did a regeneration last night.
It looks like the gallons before the next regeneration is about 1600. We'll see how close we get before the 8 day override.

I tested the hardness from the cold tap this morning. Hardness measured at 0.
I wish there was an easy way to test the sodium level in the treated water to see how much it went down. I may run a test up the local lab tomorrow morning, if I have time.

I double checked the drain line. No kinks or obstructions.
But, the drain line does not seem to empty completely....there is still some water sitting in the line after regeneration is complete. I assume there is no way that water can go back into the resin tank, right? I assume there is some sort of check valve where the drain line connects to the resin tank preventing it from flowing back into the resin tank?

I plan on cleaning the remaining bathroom fixtures this weekend.
Then, I am going to cover all the chrome fixtures with a coat of polish (I may use some clear spray car wax I have....) and Rain-X the glass.
Than, I guess we'll see how the fixtures look after a test period.....and I will report back.

Just our of curiosity, justalurker, are you a plumber, water treatment guy, chemist, expert DIYer?

thanks for your continued help.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2011 at 1:35PM
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Let's see... 2 adults + 1 (2 munchkins = 1 full size person) = 3 x 60gpd (average water use = 180 gpd x 7 + 180 gallons (one days reserve) = 1440 gallons and the 762 says 1600 so it's algorithm is using 20% as a reserve factor (1575 for 7 days with 20% reserve) and I'm using one day's water use so we're close in agreement.

It will be interesting to hear your observations on water quality, softened water taste, and spotting... better or worse.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2011 at 3:29PM
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Apologies if this explanation is too simplistic - with no information about your knowledge level, I will attempt to make this clear to the average person with little chemistry background.

The sodium on your treated water will NOT got down unless your softener has a serious problem. Period. Picture each resin bead as a ball with a bunch of arms. Each arm is holding a sodium. The arms, however, prefer calcium or magnesium. So, as the calcium (or Mg) flow by, the arms let go of the sodium and grab the calcium. It takes two arms to hold a calcium, so for every calcium that is grabbed, two sodium are released.

When your softener regenerates, the brine solution passing through the resin is so strong that it essentially rips the hardness away from the arms and replaces it with sodium again. Excess brine is rinsed down the drain, never entering the rest of your plumbing systems, and the softener is returned to normal service

Therefore, sodium content of your treated water depends upon the hardness content of your untreated water (plus, of course, whatever sodium happens to be in your water naturally). Increasing softener salt-efficiency will not change sodium content in your treated water. It will save you some money on salt. That is all, unless your softener is operating poorly and does not adequately rinse the resin after the brine portion of the regeneration cycle. If that is the case, it does not matter what your salt efficiency settings are - you have a poorly operating softener.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2011 at 3:44PM
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Yes Alice stated again and again and again. We can pump 800 gallons of brine into 1.5 cu ft of resin and only the sodium required to exchange for the calcium, iron, and manganese on the resin will stick(?) to the resin beads but inadequate or improper rinse will leave excess sodium in the resin tank.

It's obvious to me that the OP's softener seller did little than input the gross settings and took all the defaults so getting the softener as close to correct as possible through the keyboard helps me eliminate some possibilities.

If you or I were there then we'd sort this out but we're not. MM hasn't mentioned bringing this problem to his dealer so we don't have any info in that area.

All we can do long distance is rule out the obvious and hopefully we'll end up with the true cause of the problem remaining... it's hard looking through someone else's eyes so MM, move the softener closer to the keyboard so we can see it.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2011 at 4:03PM
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mrmichaeljmoore there any way to tell if the amount of sodium in my treated water is appropriate based on my hardness?
That way we know if the softener is operating (and rinsing) properly?

Raw Hardness 21-22 gpg
Raw/untreated water: 25.0 mg/L Sodium
Treated water: 110.7 mg/l Sodium

Do those numbers look reasonable?

I also will let you know if there is a difference in taste.

I have been communicating with my dealer. They admit that the spotting seems excessive and that is most likely caused by sulfates and possibly sodium.
But, unfortunately, they have only suggested wiping down the fixtures after each shower as a soltuion. To me (and aliceinwonderland) I think that's a bit unreasonable. In addition, there is something "wrong" with my water to cause this excessive spotting that may be able to be fixed mechanically/chemically.


    Bookmark   February 17, 2011 at 4:30PM
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I have 30 gpg hard water witth TDS @ 270ppm and there are two of us in the home. I'm not on a well but a rural water system fed by big wells.

I have a 1.5 cu ft softener at this time and it is tuned for efficiency and produces absolute 0 hardness water with TDS @ 470ppm.

RO under kitchen sink has TDS of 14.

I have always used KCl rather than NaCl and have no spotting on chrome surfaces or glass... none. The fixtures in the bath and shower air dry and there are no spots.

You and I are on different water but the difference in my before and after softener TDS gives you an indication of how much potassium is exchanged into the hard water to make it soft.

Interesting that your TDS went down in the soft water while usually with hard water TDS goes up after the softener to reflect the increase in sodium or potassium exchanged into the hard water to soften it. Perhaps Alice will comment on that cause it confuses me.

If I had bought a softener and was having these problems I'd expect the dealer to solve the problem or at least actively participate in finding the solution.

I bow to Alice who has far superior chemistry knowledge than me and his ability to explain it but I see what happens in the field and I see what it happens to and how these problems are solved.

Th diagnostic commandments say... start at square one and that is to know that the softener is set up correctly which it was not. Then we proceed in an orderly manner checking one thing and eliminating if from consideration, not jumping around from thing to thing and changing everything so we don;t know what had any or no effect.

As for your softener operating correctly or not we're blind here on the forum and I don't think your dealer can determine if your control valve has a problem or not.

As I said, the Logix controllers are not a favorite of mine. If you had a Fleck control valve or a Clack WS1 CS I'd walk you through increasing the rinse cycle time to see if that has any effect on the spotting.

Read through the complete 762 manual and you'll find the area where it discusses changing cycle times and see if it makes sense to you.

You said your softener was installed in 2006... have you always had the spotting problem or is that a relatively new problem?

    Bookmark   February 17, 2011 at 5:15PM
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Something is clearly amiss. At this point, however, we don't know for certain if the problem lies with sampling, sample storage or analysis. I suspect the raw water numbers are incorrect. I say this because MM indicated the treated water analysis was done by a lab. Since it was not indicated, I am assuming the raw water analysis was not done by a lab, but rather by field tests. Field tests are wonderful tools in the hands of experienced testers, but can be wildly inaccurate. TDS meters, without proper calibration before every test, are only good for ballpark numbers. Hardness field tests are fairly precise (meaning the same person using the test over and over will typically get the same results), but not very accurate and can be off by an order of magnitude.

Na (sodium) levels of 110 mg/L in the treated water, if we assume the raw water level of 25 mg/L is accurate, shows us that 85.7 mg/L Na was added to the water. At 2 Na added per 1 Ca or Mg removed, that's 42.85 mg/L hardness removed, which is only 2.5 gpg.

If you actually have 22 gpg hardness, you would expect to see a rise in Na of 752.4 mg/L Na, making treated water Na 777.4 mg/L. You should also see treated water TDS rise by the amount of hardness removed. 22 gpg hardness = 375.2 mg/L hardness. Your water's TDS should rise by approximately that amount after passing through the softener.

Some additional questions/comments:

1) How was the sampling of the treated water accomplished? Was the sample cold or hot water? How long was the faucet run or the valve open before the sample was taken? [Samples should be taken from cold water lines only and water should be allowed to run for a minute before sampling]

2) How and where was the raw water sample taken?

3) How long, and under what conditions, did the sample bottle sit before analysis? [Preferably, samples are sealed and store in a cool environment]

4) If any solids settled out, did the lab re-dissolve them prior to testing? [This is not necessarily standard procedure]

5) Were both raw and treated water samples taken at the same time?

6) Who had control of the samples and how were they labeled? Are you certain the correct samples were tested?

7) How was hardness of the raw water determined? What type of test and who did it?

8) How was TDS of raw water determined?

    Bookmark   February 17, 2011 at 8:15PM
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sorry for the delay in responding....
I cleaned all of the chrome fixtures in the new basement bathroom. In order to help prevent spotting, I put Rain-X on the shower door glass and I applied clear spray car wax to all of the chrome and shower door metal. I used Eagle One Nanowax spray: ( I use it to detail my cars....good stuff....
I used the shower tonight. I will let it air-dry overnight and let you know if there is any spotting.

The dealer was an online dealer of water treatment equipment.
I have been in contact with them regarding this issue. They haven't been able to pinpoint the problem. They feel it is either sodium or sulfates causing the problem. And although they admit that the spotting I am getting is more than normal, the only solution they offer at this point is to wipe the fixtures down after each use. So, yes, you could say I am a little disappointed with that response.

As far as noticing the spots....I guess we have always noticed them in the upstairs bathroom....but it wasn't until we did the new basement bathroom (new construction completed August 2010) that we noticed how quick the spots accumulated on the brand new chrome fixtures that I decided to look into the problem.

The TDS numbers are from the online water softener dealer. In that case, I take the sample and mail it to them. Not sure how that affects the testing.

But I did have the raw water tested by the local lab. But they lab report does not have TDS.
The RAW water results are (tested by lab on 10/11/2010):
Copper: None Detected
Iron 0.03 mg/L
Manganese: 0.01 mg/L
Chloride: 116.3 mg/L
Hardness: 271 mg/L
Sodium: 25.0 mg/L
Sulfate: 40.2 mg/l
Color: 5 CU
Odor: 0
PH: 7.7
Turbidity: 0.7 NTU

Just for comparison, the TREATED water results from the same lab, done the same day, on the same sample are:
Copper: None Detected
Iron: None Detected
Manganese: None Detected
Chloride: 111.9 mg/L
Hardness: None Detected
Sodium: 110.7 mg/L
Sulfate: 40.5 mg/L
Color: 0 CU
Odor: 0
PH: 7.8
Turbidity: 0.3 NTU

I am waiting for the results of the sample I dropped off last week. In that sample, they are testing for TDS and silica of the TREATED water. I should have those results this this week.

To answer your specific questions:

1. Cold water. If I remember correctly, the basement utility sink (no aerator on faucet).
2. Cold water. From boiler drain of well retention tank.
3. I took the sample and it was at the lab within 30 minutes.
4. Not sure what the lab did.
5. Yes.
6. Hopefully, the lab is correct.
7. Testing was done by the lab.
8. Not sure. Test was done by the lab.

I retested the Hardness tonight of the RAW water (using the Hach 5B test kit). Results were about 21 grains per gallon. I pulled the water from the boiler drain of the well retention tank.

So, alice, you are saying that the Sodium level should be even higher than the 110.7 calculated by the lab in the TREATED water, if my Hardness is 21-22GPG?

Just as a reminder, I have a 4" Big Blue paper filter that filters the water before the softener. And I have a 4" Big Blue Radial Flow Carbon Filter that filters the water after the softener. So, it goes well to paper filter to softener to carbon filter to faucets.
Do the filters have any affect on the TDS or Sodium figures?

You guys have been more than helpful with helping me try to figure out my water problem.....I really appreciate it...but do you think I should contact a local water treatment specialist, who can help diagnose the problem on site?
....the trick is just finding one you can trust.....

thanks for the continued help.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2011 at 9:33PM
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When you buy water treatment equipment long distance there is no service by definition and you're finding that out. In defense of your online softener seller it is very difficult to resolve these kind of problems long distance because everything is seen and described through eyes other than their own and by (usually) less knowledgeable people.

The bitterness of no service lingers long after the sweetness of low price is gone.

Are your Big Blue filter housings the 4x20 size? Why are you pre-filtering the water before the softener? Are you having sediment problems? How often are the pre-filters changed? Did you install pressure gauges before and after both the pre and post filter housing to monitor the pressure drop so you'd KNOW when the filters should be changed?

You might want to check around locally for an independent water treatment pro who is familiar with the Autotrol-Logix control combo and describe your problem. You'll usually find independents who are intimately familiar with Fleck control valves and fewer that are familiar with the the less popular Autotrol-Logix. If you find one that professes expertise with your control valve ask what they would charge to come out and evaluate your problem. At this point it would be money well spent IF they know what they are doing.

Your spotting problem may be that you are exceeding the max SFR of the 1.5 cubes of resin in your softener and hardness is leaking through at the max demand your new shower imposes on the system and softener. It is (unfortunately) too common for online sellers to recommend under size softeners to make it more appealing for the customer to buy a softener cause the price is lower.

The answer to your spotting problem is right in front of you and only knowledgeable eyes on the situation or just plain blind luck is going to resolve the problem.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 10:25AM
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I will start looking around for local pro.
To answer your questions:
1. The Big Blue filter housings are 4x10 size.
2. When we bought the house in 2003 we had a local water company come out to inspect our water. The recommended a sediment filter and carbon filter to bookend the we did it. Don't recall if they mentioned a sediment problem.
3. I change the sediment pre-filter every 3 months. The carbon RFC-BB every 6 months. Those were the instructions given by the water treatment company.
4. No pressure gauges. Change the filters based on the calendar schedule above.

I received the test results back for TREATED water.
Sample date was 2/16/2011

Silica: 15.9 mg/L
Conductivity as TDS: 476 mg/L

I'll let you both know if and when I find a local guy.

As a side note, I drank my water for the first time in as long as I can remember.....
Not sure if it is my mind playing tricks on me, but it seemed to taste better (not as salty). Could it be because we changed the softener settings?


    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 8:50PM
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4x10 filters are little blue. 4x20 filters are BIG BLUE. 4x10 filters may be too small. Restricting the water flow rate during softener regeneration can result in inadequate backwash and rinse. You might try removing both filter elements and see if that makes any difference.

Filter elements should be changed when the pressure drop across the filter approaches 15 psi not by a calendar. you change the oil in your car according to mileage not months.

Since you're on a well and there is no anti-bacterial protection in your water be advised that if ANY bacteria is present in your water it will colonize the carbon filter... bacteria LOVES carbon.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 9:02PM
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I contacted a few local companies.
I gave them all of my water test numbers, and even sent pictures to one of them.
All basically said the TDS was causing my spotting.
And the only solution (which none of them recommended I do) was whole-house RO.

So, unfortunately, my only solution to this problem is to keep up with the maintenance/cleaning of the plumbing fixtures.

I bought a TDS meter online.
It is the HM Digital TDS-3.
I did some tests last night.
Here are some of the numbers (in ppm):

RAW water: 263/338/335
After sediment filter: 340/341
After carbon filter and softener: 344/342
Basement bathroom sink hot: 331/325
Basement bathroom sink cold: 338/343
Upstairs bathroom sink hot: 325
Upstairs bathroom sink cold: 334

The average TDS is about 336......which, I guess in my case, is high enough to cause spotting.

thanks for the help.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2011 at 12:12PM
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A whole-house RO is rarely, if ever, a good solution for a homeowner. You may wish to investigate an anion exchanger, however. Your softener is a cation exchanger. An anion exchanger would remove the silica, among other things. Most water treatment "pros" that deal with home water treatment don't deal with anion exchange because they essentially know very little about water chemistry. If you find someone who deals with commercial water treatment (think large hotels, or small industry like food production) they can help you.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2011 at 3:41PM
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The TDS of my softened (zero hardness) water is in the 600 range and I don't have the spotting problem you have.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2011 at 4:23PM
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Correct previous post to read TDS of my softened (zero hardness) water is in the 475-500 range...

    Bookmark   March 22, 2011 at 5:03PM
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justalurker -

You have now officially made more confused than I was before.

ugh. lol....

    Bookmark   March 22, 2011 at 5:29PM
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If you re-read this thread you'll find that around the 25th post in the thread I posted...

"I have 30 gpg hard water with TDS @ 270ppm and there are two of us in the home. I'm not on a well but a rural water system fed by big wells.

I have a 1.5 cu ft softener at this time and it is tuned for efficiency and produces absolute 0 hardness water with TDS @ 470ppm"

The subject of TDS was brought up.

It's not coincidental that the local pros said "... the TDS was causing my spotting" cause that's an easy answer.

Once all the water treatment hardware is proven NOT to be causing the spotting problem the only thing left is the water chemistry and it's action (or reaction?) with the object getting spotted on.

That is what Alice and I have been trying to help you do.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2011 at 6:00PM
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This topic may be closed (last post in 2011) but, my problem is identical: 0 GPG hardness, yet well water still leaves a white precipitate that is untouchable by concentrated acids. Because common hardness spots are easily removed by weak acids, I am suspecting a silicate. Am having a quant analysis for this. If you are still available, Mr. Moore, what was your resolution? Any other comments will be welcomed.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 11:36AM
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Original poster here....again....
I have an update...but unfortunately, no solution to the spotting problem.

It's been a while since I've posted, so let me give a quick summary of what I've done.

Over the last couple years, I've had 3 water quality professionals come to my house to help me diagnose my water spot problem.
The first guy (a Kinetico rep) had no idea what the problem was but offered a solution: install a Kinetico system and if the problem goes away, then great! If not and the spotting problem still exists, then he will uninstall his Kinetico system for $200. I passed on that offer.
The second guy was unsure of what the problems is. I mentioned I had some silica in the raw water (lab tested it 15.9 mg/L) and he suggested utilizing polyphosphate/siliphos. Although he said it was food grade and harmless, my wife and I weren't so sure about adding that to our water supply, so we passed on that too.
The third guy pretty much said "it is what it is"....he said they installed a whole house RO system for someone with similar problems....obviously, i declined that expensive proposal....

I contacted another water professional. He's a little far from me, but he helped me over the phone. He had me do a Langelier Saturation Index (LSI) test with a local lab.
The results were a -1.5 (serious corrosion) on the LSI Index and the lab stated "Water is undersaturated with respect to calcium carbonate. Undersaturated water has a tendency to remove existing calcium carbonate protective coatings in pipelines and equipment."
So, the professional had me use a blending screw on my softener to leak a little hardness into the treated water (approx 1-2gpg of hardness). Well, I still got spots unfortunately...and the water is no longer slippery/slick. I gave up on that idea.

As far as the silica, does anyone have any input on that?
Are the levels (15.9 mg/L) high enough to cause issues? Has anyone used any siliphos or polyphosphate treatments? Are they safe? Do they work?

One other thing: I have noticed that I have some etching/pitting on the glass shower door chrome hinge and chrome screws....Not sure what would cause that....and I did have that before I tried the blending screw....
As I said previously, I've been trying to get to the bottom of this spotting issue.
Up to this point, I have been merely wiping down the chrome fixtures after each shower. But, that doesn't fix the problem..........that's the same thing as just adding oil to car that's losing a quart a day.
Plus, I can see where spots are starting to accumulate on the tile walls of the tub....and on the sink bowls....and bathtub.... forward to the past few months:
In order to try to figure out what exactly the spots are made of, I took the lid from one of my wife's stock pots (I think it is aluminium?) and filled the lid with water.....about an 1/8" inch or so. Then i put the lid on top of my wood pellet stove. The heat caused the water to evaporate leaving only the white residue (and some wood pellet dust). I attached pictures of the lid for all to see.
I did this for a few days and then I took the lid to the local lab and had him test it.

Here are the results of the tests on the residue on the lid:
Copper: 3.16 mg/L
Iron: 10.29 mg/L
Manganese: .96 mg/L
Hardness: 64 mg/L
Sodium: >1265 mg/L

Just for reference, here are my water specs (from my original post):
Here is my raw water analysis:
Hardness - 21 GPG (grains per gallon)
Iron - 0.05 mg/l (ferrous)
Manganese - ND (not detected)
pH - 7.3 standard units
TDS (total dissolved solids) - 472 ppm

My treated water analysis :
Copper - none detected
Iron - none detected
Manganese - none detected
Chloride - 11.9 mg/L
Hardness- none detected
Sodium - 110.7 mg/L
Nitrate as N - none detected
Nitrite as N - none detected
Color - 0
Odor - 0
PH - 7.8
Turbidity - 0.3 NTU
Sulfate - 40.5 mg/L
TDS - 364 ppm

Silica: 15.9 mg/L

My existing water treatment setup:
1. Big Blue sediment cartridge filter
2. Autotrol 255/762 48K water softener (installed in 2006)
3. Big Blue RFC cartridge filter

I confirmed that the treated water is at 0 gpg hardness at all fixtures using a Hach 5B Hardness Test Kit.

On the stock pot lid, there is a bare spot. I was able remove some of the spotting build-up with CLR.
BUT..............and here is the big BUT............the CLR will NOT clean the sink stoppers that have the spotting on them. The only thing that cleans them is my Never Dull chrome cleaner.
NOTE: I was also able to clean additional sections of the stock pot lid with water, vinegar, and Clorox cleaner...
I attached pictures of the sink stoppers also showing the spotting accumulation. I had nothing to do with the clean spot in the center of the stoppers....i think it's because the stoppers are slightly rounded, no water sits there, so no spotting accumulates.

I also attached pictures of the chrome cover piece for the bathtub overflow. There is some slight spotting there. I usually wipe it down after each shower/bath....but some spots have still accumulated. CLR or vinegar will not remove them.....only the Never Dull chrome cleaner.

So, in summary, I'm still at a loss.

Thank you in advance for helping.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2014 at 9:41PM
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It's taken a while, but I've read back through the thread to re-familiarize myself with your situation.

How is your softener currently programmed? I ask because you have indicated a hardness component to the scale and any hardness bleed will exacerbate your spotting problems. We may be able to lessen hardness bleed. Specifically, I am interested in your Level II programming settings:

  1. regenerant used per regenen

  2. System capacity

  3. Hardness

  4. Reserve type

  5. Refill First option

If the spots are not removed with CLR or vinegar, they are most likely silica, which becomes soluble at high pH. If silica is the problem, there are really only two potential methods for removal, both of which will leave you with aggressive water, so could not be done unless you have only plastic piping (not Pex since the fittings are brass).

1) You could install an anion exchange unit (softeners are cation exchange units) that would be regenerated with sodium hydroxide. You would need to be VERY comfortable dealing with chemicals to use this option.

2) You could install a whole-house RO. These used to be completely impractical for home owners, but small units are much better now. However, good ones are still very expensive.

You might try another experiment. Get some pH test strips and some citric acid. For your purposes, lemon juice is probably fine, although you could use powdered sugar-free drink mix. Mix citric acid in with your softened water until the pH is as close to 7.0 as you can get it. Then perform your evaporation test again and see if the scale left over is any easier to remove.

This post was edited by aliceinwonderland_id on Mon, Feb 24, 14 at 12:10

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 12:02PM
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I am having this exact same problem on our fixtures. It shows up on tile floors as well when I drop water on it. Did the OP ever find out what was the issue? I have a 44k whirlpool water softener, and was thinking it might be because my softener is too small. My hardness is over 25 gpg (I have just used the test strips) and my TDS is 1200 before and 895 after the softener (and carbon filter) I plan on getting the water tested for hardness soon. I have soaked the fixtures in vinager and the spots do not remove. I plan on trying the nevr dull to remove the spots.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 12:13PM
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