water softener or birm to remove Fe/Mn?

merlin2552May 2, 2011

Water tests for untreated water: pH 7.3, hardness 4.14 gpg, Fe 1.96 ppm, Mn 0.14 ppm, Turbidity 11. Started having problems with iron staining clothing etc. Since present treatment equipment is ancient (water softener/ cartridge filter) and we are planning on selling home soon, I've had 3 quotes for treatment equipment.

Quote 1: recommended water softener to remove iron, manganese. He had a portable water softener and when he ran my water through it, there was still some iron in it (ferric I assume since softener should remove ferrous right?). He suggested a water softener that uses salt and a cartridge filter before it for particulate iron. I asked about using a filter instead of a softener since it doesn't seem my water is too hard, so he gave me quote for a birm/calcite filter...would make the water a little harder, but not enough that I think I would need a softener too.

Quote 2 - 10" standard cartridge filter followed by a 1.0 cu ft metered controlled softener using potassium chloride. I expressed my concern it wouldn't remove the particulate iron but that is what the cartridge filter is for. (as in first quote)

3rd quote - iron/manganese reduction system 1 cu ft chemical free oxidation of ferric, ferrous, bacterial iron by air induction.(proprietary media blend?) Will require replenishment of ph Plus 1-2 times per year at dosage of 4 lbs/cu ft media. Is this also a birm?

Since it is less than 5 ppm Fe, I'm thinking the softener may be the most economical/easiest to maintain route.

Also hydrogen sulfide smell only in hot water...will chlorinating hot water tank fix this? Just started recently...could be seasonal I guess.

Your advice/thoughts would be appreciated!

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There is no reason to adjust the PH. At 7.3 it's fine. Some of the iron is probably binding to the turbidity causing ferric iron. You have a compensated hardness of about 13gpg. I would suggest either a 20" or 10" big blue pre-filter housing to keep up flow rates and a 5 micron sediment filter to help remove turbidity/ferric iron. You did not mention how many people or # of fixtures in home. With 4 people I would suggest a 1.5 cu ft softener, regenerate with sodium at 12#'s will give you about 30k capacity and regen about every 7 days.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2011 at 8:27AM
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Thank you for your help.
I feel more confident in the water softener solving my problem when you explained the iron could be binding to the turbidity causing the ferric iron.
Sorry, house is 3 BR, 1.5 bath, with only 2 living here presently, but I should size for 4 people I think.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2011 at 7:16PM
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Hogwash. The presence of dissolved oxygen, not turbidity, causes iron to go from ferrous to ferric. So, some questions:

1) What is the source of your water, well or city? If city, is it surface water? (it is unusual to have turbidity in well water)
2) When you run water from the tap into a clear glass, is it initially clear or do you immediately see an orange tint?
3) If it is initially clear, does it turn orange after sitting for a time?

Your quote 1 guy may have seen iron after his portable softener for a variety of reasons: 1) the resin could be in bad shape, 2) The resin could be in need of regeneration, 3) there could be channeling in his portable unit, 4) It could be poor quality resin 5) if he let someone else's water sit in it, it could have become oxidized and formed ferric iron. Did the other quoters test your water?

    Bookmark   May 3, 2011 at 11:36PM
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Thank you for your help. Well water. Color not obvious but can see the slight orange yellowish tinge in filled washer & toilet bowls (toilet tank is very orange but no evidence of iron bacteria)
There is a sediment cartridge (use 10 m polypropylene wound) currently installed after the softener (I'm told this should have been BEFORE the softener). Always rusty colored with iron particles on the bottom of the clear casing. Stored gal. jug show very slight color/iron sediment. Sulfur smell increasing (I will try Chlorine in H2O heater,)
The reps portable water softener did look pretty gunked up. 1st 2 reps tested with portable kits (drops/color wheels), 3rd tested in THEIR lab; all results were comparable to independent lab tests done on raw H2O 2 years ago and prior.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 6:49PM
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While it is true that oxidized iron is caused by dissolved oxygen in the water and other oxidizing agents,
(IE: chlorine, hydrogen peroxide, etc)high turbidity as in this water analysis can contribute to iron bleeding through softener. I would also flush the pressure tank. Some of the turbidity may be coming from it. Hook a hose to the boiler drain at well tank and flush to drain until well kicks on a couple times. If no smell in cold water, the smell in water heater is probably from anode rod eroding away. You can fill the post filter you have now with bleach, run through whole house and water heater. Let sit for about 1 hour and flush completely. Flush water heater from drain at bottom of tank until any bleach smell is gone. Flush WH from bottom, drain weekly for about 5 minutes to flush out any sediment from anode rod. If rod is more than 10 years old it is probably gone by now with softened water.
You do not need an iron filter! Let your quote #3 guy know that an iron filter based on air injection CAN NOT remove bacteria, but it will feed it and make it worse.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 7:22PM
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I have the option of renting equipment from company # 2 (can always buy from them at any time). This may be a good way to see how their softener/filter works. My concern is that the softener won't remove the ferric iron. I don't know much about the birm or the 3rd suggestion of a chemical free oxidation of iron. This seems to be for a higher Fe concentration and will mess around with my pH I think.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 7:57PM
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The 10" standard filter housing will only supply 5gpm flow rate. That is why I suggested using a 20" or Big Blue housing to keep up flow rates with 5 micron filter. I would also suggest to go with a 40k or 45k system to keep up flow rates. You can set it for 8# salt and that will get about 20k capacity. Depending on water usage it will regenerate about every 7 days. The softener won't remove the ferric iron but the 5 micron pre-filter should. You DO NOT need to adjust the PH, at 7.3 it is fine. Just keep in mind that most rental equipment is rebuilt equipment (not new).

    Bookmark   May 5, 2011 at 11:39AM
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Thanks again for taking all the time to help. I will talk with Rep # 2 about the size again...he recommended a 1 cu ft., 10" filter. You are suggesting 1.5 vs the 1 cu ft (is this 30K?) to keep up the flow rate?
I think you are probably right about the rebuilt on the rental...he said a Fleck metered control, but said he puts together the softener.
I'm thinking the rental because all parts, repairs and service are included in the monthly rent. It is a month to month agreement. We are trying to get this ready to put on the market soon. The rental can be picked up by the new owner or I could purchase the equipment with my installation and a % of my monthly rental applied to the purchase. Also if I am not happy with the way it works they will remove with no charge or change out if water changes (hasn't changed much in 40 years). I'd be out my initial set-up fee of course. Thanks again for all your help.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2011 at 7:22PM
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Ditto on the 1.5 cu ft softener for higher SFR and more efficiency.

A rental softener assembled with a Fleck 5600 Econominder (metered) control valve and new resin will work the same as a new softener.

Rental may make a lot more sense in your situation.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2011 at 7:57PM
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The 1.5 cuft is actually 45k capacity but can be sized according to salt dosage. This will be efficient at this setting and will have the capability to handle 4-5 people on this water with just a salt dose adjustment and meter adjust. Sounds like rental is the best option at this point for you.
Good luck and good water,

    Bookmark   May 5, 2011 at 10:25PM
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