Water Softener/Existing Copper Problems

lizzywhoMarch 13, 2012

Our home was built in 1996. Have had numerous water leaks. Yesterday the plumber was out yet again. Suggested investing in a Water Softener. We have well water. Gave me a name to a Kinetico Dealer. He did a test. Did not elaborate much. Said hardness level was 26.5. TDS Level was 1700. His product could work wonders. Knee Jerk reaction was to buy! After sleeping on it I never impulse buy. I research everything to death. Started this morning.

I called Culligan. The Culligan Man was very helpful and made a recommendation. He also added that during the time my home was built some bad copper came out of Mexico and he has encountered other homes built in the area that have experienced similiar problems. He also added that he has customers with higher readings that do not have the leak problems that we have had. Both of the dealers explained that removing the hardness from the water should help my situation. The sodium levels would remain about the same with the exception of the drinking water treated by the undersink RO.

I guess my questions are: Will the softening process be helpful to my copper problem with the sodium # so high?

What other numbers do I need to know to get a handle on this problem?

Where do I start?!?

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Both companies are a little right and surprisingly wrong. Could be inferior copper or PH problems which can result in pinhole leaks in copper pipes.

If neither has mentioned checking the PH of your well water then they are both of questionable competence.

Why do you think your sodium # is high? High TDS is not necessarily sodium but is total dissolved solids.

Is 26.5 hardness gpg or ppm?

Where you start is... get a comprehensive water test from an independent lab. An independent lab has no agenda and won't be trying to sell you water treatment equipment. This is a MUST DO because without it everything is a guess. A quickie water test from a water softener company won't be as accurate (and possibly not as competent) as from a certified independent lab.

Hit the Yellow Pages and call at least three local INDEPENDENT water treatment pros. You've already called the big dogs (Kinetico or Culligan) for comparison. DON'T TELL THEM YOU HAD YOUR WATER TESTED.

Give each an opportunity to offer suggestions and provide you with a quote to meet your water treatment needs. IGNORE ANY THAT DON'T TEST YOUR WATER THEMSELVES as they can't speak intelligently to water treatment without knowing what needs to be treated.

Ask lots of questions. Softening the entire house or just the water heater? Warranty, parts & labor or just parts, how long and on exactly what? Install, permits required, licensed plumber? Routine maintenance and costs? Do they stock parts? Response time for emergency (water leak) calls? If they don't explain things to your satisfaction that is a good indicator of how you'll be treated after the sale.

After they've gone use your water test to compare with theirs. Are all your treatment needs being addressed?

Ask your neighbors if they have any water treatment experience. They might tell you who's good or who to avoid.

Come back here and post the specific recommendations and hardware components with the costs and we'll give you our opinions.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2012 at 2:29PM
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Thank You. No luck finding an independant lab for water testing in phone book. That is my first comprehensive search to be done.

Very, Very, Very rural area. The only person close lost his system to a power surge. He had a very basic system. He said it did help a little.

I may have assumed more into the sodium situation. The Kinetico guy was going on about how persons with certain medical conditions should not drink the water due to the sodium content. RO sales pitch?

I have a lot of homework to do.

I will be back with more questions when I get some info...may take a while.

Your assistance is much appreciated.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2012 at 2:54PM
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"No luck finding an independant lab for water testing in phone book. "

So search on the internet.

Water testing is actually VERY standardized.

Sometimes to the point of missing things (if you do not look/test for a particular item you will never see it).

    Bookmark   March 13, 2012 at 3:00PM
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You can contact state or county Environmental Heath and they should be able to point you to certified labs. Might also check local universities.

Living on a well you should be having routine (annual) tests of your well water at least for nitrates and bacteria so when you find a lab keep their phone number on the fridge.

Unless someone in your home has a doctor's order for no sodium diet there is little to worry about. At your hardness the increase of sodium in one liter of your water from the softening process is about the same as the sodium content of a slice of white bread. There is the alternative of using KCl to regenerate the softener if someone at home is on a no sodium diet.

At your hardness and TDS I would recommend an under sink RO in the kitchen for drinking, cooking, and ice making/fridge... but not necessarily a $1500 RO ;)

When we get the results of a comprehensive water test then we can speak intelligently regarding what needs to be treated in your water.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2012 at 3:05PM
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Call the water department in the nearest community that has a municipal water supply.. They maintain their own lab because they have to test their water 5 or 6 times a day..

Nearly every one that I have ever spoken to will do a very comprensive test for a modest fee of about $20-$25

    Bookmark   March 13, 2012 at 5:29PM
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A water softener will have no effect, either positive or negative, on the corrosion of your copper plumbing. If your copper pipes had leaks before the softener, they will have them after the softener is installed.

I never heard of the Bad Mexican Copper theory before but my guess is that it would be a pH problem. At 26 grains, your TDS is abnormally high and either the reading is inaccurate or there is a "lot of something else" in your water.

Your pipes might also be suffering from electrolysis. Make sure the pipes are grounded and electric wires are coming inot contact with them.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2012 at 6:38AM
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Thank you for all the info and direction. Working on finding a Lab.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2012 at 9:12AM
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