Water Softener help needed
I've read through a few water softener threads on this forum and have the feeling that some of the experts can help me out here.
I had a local outfit install a water softener for my new house about 3 years ago, and have been struggling since to get it to perform to my satisfaction. I�ve had lots of iron staining as well as crusty white/brown mineral buildup on my plumbing fixtures. During this period I've done a lot of reading on the subject and am getting familiar with how these work.
I�ll start my story here, and hopefully do not omit any important info. First of all, here are the raw water test results from this past December, with the original 2007 results for comparison.
Ferric 4.0 (2007 levels were 2.5)
Ferrous 1.0 (2007 levels were 4.3)
Manganese .38 (2007 level were 0)
Hardness 11 (2007 levels were 7)
The original installation consisted of a PH neutralizer/sediment filter and then the water softener. I have 1 inch copper pipe at this point.
We struggled for quite some time, with the Fleck softener head getting completely plugged/fouled with iron to the point where they had to remove it for a cleaning. At that point, I think they increased the salt for the regen and am sure they decreased the regen frequency on the meter from 2000 gallons to 1000. They also shortened the cycle on the sediment filter.
In the meantime, I added an up flow carbon filter to the system myself to suck up radon. We did not have much and the subsequent tests showed the carbon worked very well in removing the radon. I also bought a Hach test kit for hardness and Iron so I could try to learn how to maintain this setup myself as I was getting tired of the hit or miss attempts of the installer.
At this point, my system consisted of:
1.) 1.5 CuFt sediment filter/PH neutralizer with a Fleck head, Timer style
2.) 1.0 CuFt water softener with a Fleck head, metered
3.) 1.5 CuFt Upflow carbon filter.
Quite frequently, I was able to detect iron and hardness in the system using the test kit (and visually in deeper water), and I finally called the water folks and said I�d had enough. I asked for a PLAN on how he would resolve this, as opposed to just changing settings. They came out to do the second water test in December (results above) and decided that I needed the new configuration with the greensand/pot-perm. My Final setup after adding the greensand/Pot-perm looks like this:
Filter #1 :PH filter
Purpose: Raise PH and oxygen level
Mineral: calcite or neutralite
Size: 1.5 cube
Service: 1 time per year . Add or vacuum tank as needed and replenish mineral.
Backwash: every 3 days
Filter#2 : Iron/Manganese filter
Purpose: Filter manganese , ferrous and ferric iron up to 15 parts per million.
Mineral: Manganese greensand plus
Size: 1.5 cube
Service: 4 times per year. Add 3 measuring cups of potassium permanganate.
Backwash: every 2 days (I recently changed this to 2 days per installers request)
Filter#3 : Water softener
Purpose: Filter hardness only.
Mineral: Dow X HCR Resin
Size: 1 cube
Service: add salt as needed.
Backwash: Recommended regeneration every 2000 gallons.
Filter#4 : Upflow Carbon Filter
Purpose: Remove radon (and anything else it can).
Mineral: Activated charcoal
Size: 1.5 cube
Service: Replace carbon as needed.
So after the new setup, they set the water softener regen at 2000 gallons. I assume that they calculated this as being an appropriate setting after anticipating the iron to be mostly removed by the greensand. However, (to make a long story longer) I�m still getting hardness through the softener after only 350 gallons. I�ve been gradually decreasing the meter setting on the softener from the 2000. It was because of my testing that the installer recommended that I set the pot-perm backwash to 2 days vs 3 days thinking that the iron was saturating the greensand then overpowering the softener. I don�t think this has made a difference.
When I do the math (as a novice, so don�t kill me on the theory ;-), I calculate that with a 1 CuFt softener that the installer states is 32,000 grains, it would need to be pulling 91 grains of hardness per gallon(compensated) in order to saturate this quickly. When I questioned the installer about the performance of the softener and whether or not it was doing its job , his reply was "A softeners resin bed either works or it doesn�t �there is no in-between".
Here�s what I�ve observed with my Hach testkit. I use the reagent that turns the water pink, then add 1 drop of solution and shake, until it turns blue. 1 drop = 1 gpg hardness.
1.) Morning after the backwash � 1 drop to blue
2.) 350 gallons on the Fleck meter � 4 drops to blue
3.) 500 gallons on the Fleck meter � 10 drops to blue.
So, finally, my questions are:
1.) Do you think that my softener is performing as expected?
2.) If so, and with so few gallons available, should I consider a twin tank softener?
3.) Any other suggestions debugging or otherwise, like testing the water at the outflow of the greensand to see what is actually going IN to the softener, etc.
Thanks for your patient read. I hope I�ve included enough info. Any help at all will be appreciated, as I�m trying to figure out where to go next as this is been a real pain.