Well, I have read all the posts I could find here on water softening but am still not sure what we need. The confusion comes from conflicting reports from area companies and water testing agencies. To summarize:
Three companies, the local County Board of Health and a state certified lab, all tested the water within the same week.
Each of the three water conditioning companies reported hardness of 12 GPG or grains per gallon. Two reported iron at 1 PPM and the third reported Iron at 0.3 PPM. The third company tested for Iron twice using a color wheel with identical, 0.3 PPM, results each time. All three companies used a Hach kit. The third company also tested for Tannins with 0.0 results.
The County Board of Health tested for Total Coliform and Nitrates. Both were zero, or undetected.
The State Certified Lab reported Hardness of 9.8 GPG, Calcium at 50.7 PPM, Magnesium at 10.0 PPM, Total Iron at 0.233 PPM, very close to what the third company above reported, Total Dissolved Solids at 354 PPM, Dissolved Oxygen at 2.2 PPM, pH at 8.21, Lead and Arsenic both at 0.0.
We have just completed extensive remodeling with all new fixtures and several new appliances, a new Reverse Osmosis filter, a new shower, new PEX water lines and two new toilets. After 45 days the iron is beginning to leave a faint deposit in the toilet basins, and faint orange colored deposits can be seen in the PEX water lines. The former shower was partially clogged at the shower head and the dishwasher orifices were clogged as well. All the original, 28 year old plumbing pipes were 100% clear of obstructions, but discolored inside. There is no iron bacteria in the well or in the house.
Two water conditioning companies that had the highest iron tests are recommending 42,000 grain softeners with a brine tank that holds 250 pounds of salt, with regeneration every three days. The third company that tested iron at 0.3 PPM is recommending a 24,000 grain softener with a small, rectangular brine tank, with regeneration every 24-36 hours and claiming we will "use just one 40 pound bag of salt per month".
One company and the Board of Health said we cannot discharge the water from regeneration into the septic tank or "in a few years it will eat a hole right through the side of the tank." Don't know if this is true or not but my mother-in-law, 12 miles from us, has had a softener for 40 years and it has not been a problem with her septic tank.
We have also been advised that the calcium carbonate that clogged everything up only comes from the heated water and if we soften just the hot water we will be fine, but that will not get rid of the iron that is staining the fixtures, like the toilet basins that use cold water.
Not sure what to do and I will be very grateful for any advice on how large a softener to use and what meter to use and if we can get buy just softening the hot water only. Quoted prices, including installation, range from $799.00 to $3700.00 from the largest national water conditioning company.