Please help us decide on a water filtration system

Angus2211March 28, 2014

Thank you so much in advance for any help you can provide!

We just moved into a new construction home with well water, 3200 sqft, 2 adults, 2 kids. The builder had the water tested by an independent lab and Iron was what popped up at 0.8 mg/l. Manganese initially was at 0.058 mg/l, we had that retested and it was well below the EPA acceptable level Ph was 7.99 and hardness (CaCo3) 50 mg/l. We are already seeing orange staining in the toilets.

We had a Kinetico guy come buy who strongly recommended a water softener (their Premium line) for $3,000 to get rid of the Iron and also make our somewhat hard water soft. Another gentleman that sells Evolve systems recommended a water filtration system for $2,500. He said we didn't need the softener, which would be $2,900 from him installed. The Evolve guy gives a lifetime warranty on all systems, they will test the water every year for free and also put an outlet for the system in the basement as part of installation. I called a smaller company for a quote as well. That third company doesn't sell a specific system, but said we need a water softener and he would install it for $1,800. All these systems are on demand systems, have tons of features that don't mean that much to me. All three said that the water pressure drop would be negligible, we would always have filtered water available (minus the cleaning phase once a week for 30 min on Evolve system) and that the systems measure how much water we use, when salt is low, etc. so essentially maintenance free minus refilling the salt, which we wouldn't use much of because the water isn't very hard.

It all seems like a lot of money to me to get rid of some Iron. I would just buy a three filter system from Home Depot (Perfect Water Technologies Whole House System) for $600 and have a plumber install it. My husband thinks that it may not work right, the filters are not cheap and we will pay more in the long run.

Any advice and recommendations would be greatly appreciated!

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Is the water clear coming from the tap, but gains some rusty color after sitting for a while, or does it have color immediately?

A little light reading regarding options for ferrous (clear-water) iron removal:

  1. Softener: A softener with specialty resin is capable of removing dissolved iron, up to 7 ppm (mg/L) but asking a softener to remove iron at those upper limits is really pushing it. In addition, a softener will become fouled with particulate iron, so if you iron is particulate rather than dissolved, a softener is not a good option for you.

  2. 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.

  3. 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 rinse out the iron) at a high rate. pH range is 6.5 - 9.0. This type of filter works very well, but backwash is critical. Service flow rate is 5 gpm/sqft. Backwash is 25-30 gpm/sqft. Backwash daily.

  • Terminox: Similar to Pyrolox, but a proprietary formula . It does not require as much backwash flow rate and is more resistance to a low pH. The particulars are only available from the company that sells it. Backwash daily.

  • Filox: Also similar to Pyrolox. pH range 5.0 - 9.0....

    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 1:07AM
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Thanks so much for your reply!

We have dissolved iron. The water comes out clear without any odor and actually tastes good. Just like you mentioned, it leaves the orange staining if it sits a while, that's why I have been seeing it in the toilets.

The Evolve guy recommended a filter system with birm and only mentioned the softener because my husband asked him about it. I am just trying to figure out if we even need to spend $3000 to fix the iron issue and what the upside of a water softener would be as our water is only borderline hard. Thanks again!

    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 7:08AM
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