Water Softener and Iron filter selection

Iceman822July 23, 2012

Hi all, I've been lurking on this site for several weeks now and hopefully have enough information for a new softener. Just bought my first house last month and came into it knowing there was a problem with the softener, what I didn't know is how complicated all this is. The current softener we have is an old Culligan (I was told over 30 years old from the Culligan man.) There happens to be an iron problem here and with the state of the rest of the house I'm sure the prior owners didn't maintain the softener. Culligan guy tried to sell me on a $4500 all-in-one system and actually refused to give me the price of the 2 stage system since I mentioned the pressure problem, which I had figured to be due to the fouled resin. I ran Super Iron Out through the softener 2 days in a row and the pressure definitely increased but it's still poor.

Basic info - private well, 1500sqft home with 1 bath, 2 people living here but plans for kids in ~5 years, and normally have 1 or 2 guests on weekends. Washer & Dishwasher, would like to get an RO system for the sink & fridge as well. Just tested the flow rate and came up with 3.3 GPM (with softener bypassed), though it was from a tub faucet with only one handle between hot and cold. I couldn't remember if this was alright or not, if not I can retest in the kitchen or an outside faucet.

Test results - no nitrates or bacteria, pH = 7.8 "standard units," Hardness = 273 mg/L (PPM), Iron Total (he couldn't tell me if it was ferric or ferrous) 0.76 mg/L (PPM), Magnesium 15.9 mg/L (PPM), Manganese Haven't met many of the neighbors yet, though I've seen Culligan and Kinetico trucks at several. Plumber friend of the family recommended a Kenmore softener and a whole house filter (one of the big blue ones?), and another plumber (recommended by the lab) recommended a Waterboss and the same whole house filter. So, after reading about the two softeners and their reputation, I've come to you all for help. I know my iron is over the "limit," but is it bad enough to require an expensive filtration system or can I get by with one of those big blue filters? I'm also replacing the water heater as well, family plumber recommended a Rheem which seems to be a much better recommendation than the one for a softener.

Any other info I may have missed let me know, we're going on a month with piss poor water so I'm eager to take care of it all. Any help would be much appreciated!!

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Well (pun intended), your water isn't all that bad...

pH = 7.8
Hardness = 273 mg/L (PPM) = 16 gpg
Iron = 0.76 mg/L (PPM)
Manganese TDS = ?
2 people

Some concern with 3.3 gpm SFR. When testing a well find a hose bib if you have a single handle tub and DO bypass the OLD Culligan for the test.

Also, what size plumbing is looped for the current softener?

Your old softener is gone and not worth rebuilding cause it is timer based and bot efficient at all.

Sizing based on your info and 2 people would be 1 cu ft softener. I'd go up to a 1.5 cu ft softener and set it up for efficiency. That way down the road and with company it wouldn't regenerate too frequently.

You'll also be on a routine Iron Out regimen.

Forget a Sears or a Waterboss. Neither do well on well (pun again) water and are truly disposable. Stay away from the plumber friend who recommended the Sears cause he knows nothing about water treatment... he/she may be a great plumber though.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2012 at 8:53PM
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Just tested the outside tap which is the first faucet off the well and comes before the softener at ~9 gpm. The pressure is something I've been worried about if it's not due to the softener, the pressure tank in this house seems rather small but I'm new to all this (last house was on city water) so that's the next step if this doesn't work.

Plumbing looks to be 3/4", I may have the plumber, if i don't attempt it myself, move the softener from its current room to the adjacent utility room by the water heater so not sure if that could/should change?

The TDS I'll have to call on tomorrow and I'm not sure of the lab's turnaround, should I wait on this before a final decision?

As far as the salt, do you recommend the normal salt over the added cost of the rust-out salt since I'll be using the Iron Out once a month anyway? And is the Iron Out good enough to take care of the iron in the system or should I still invest in a filter of some sort?

I've seen a lot about the Fleck 5600 SXT on this forum, the first site I found that sells them has options for both 1" and 3/4" bypasses in either stainless or plastic. Not sure if it makes sense to go from 3/4" to 1" when we move it or not.

Appreciate the quick response, you guys have become the only people I'll trust on this matter after dealing with all the other local companies/plumbers.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2012 at 9:49PM
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Have you had a well specialist in there to see what you've got and make recommendations? If not, then do it. Living on a well is more complicated than living on a water system.

9 gpm sounds more like it.

A Fleck 5600 in any style is a 3/4" valve. I recommend the 3/4" Noryl bypass for the 5600.

Use regular salt and Iron Out once a month... I'll tell you how.

A correctly sized softener that is properly set up will treat your iron, BUT you need to know ferric or ferrous.

Why move the softener unless you have to? You'll need a drain and AC outlet at the new location.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2012 at 10:52PM
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I'll call tomorrow and set up tests to determine ferric or ferrous with the other lab in town, I was surprised the lab I went with couldn't determine it. Also the well specialist sounds like a good idea, all I had was an outside well inspection which didn't sound like much.

As far as moving it, the current location is in the basement family room. They must have finished the basement after it was installed as the drain and AC outlet it's using are actually in the utility room, the power cord & drain hose are running 4' from one side, behind the dividing wall, then through to the other side. Just needs some pipe shortening/extending about 6' so won't be terrible. Previous owners did some pretty goofy things, I thought about throwing a curtain around it but still haven't decided.

Is the ferric or ferrous going to determine what type of resin/media I need when I order the softener itself?

Also if this'll work for me like you recommended another guy here, I've already got it saved...

"For resin cleaning, once a month use 1/4 cup of Iron Out, Super Iron Out, Rust Pro etc. dissolved into a gallon or two of warm water and pour it into the 4" round tube
in the brine tank where the float is and then flush that with a quart of clear water. Wait two hours and then do a manual regeneration."

Again thanks for all the help, been tearing my hair out over this and rifling through these forums since I've walked into this house. Seems like every time I google a problem I'm having the first link lands me here with a solution!

    Bookmark   July 24, 2012 at 12:23AM
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A softener will remove FERROUS iron also called clear water iron up to a point. You are within a softener's capability to treat iron if it's ferrous iron.

Yup, that's the Iron Out regimen and should work for your iron level.

So moving the softener will be easy.

Living on a well you have the responsibility of making the water SAFE and nice.

You should be getting your water tested at least annually for bacteria and nitrates.

Ask the well guy you get if the pressure tank is large enough and if your cut-off switch is correct and operating right.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2012 at 1:23AM
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Update -

Called the other lab in town to see if they could tell me ferric or ferrous and they said no. So I called the third lab in town, which just so happens to be a local water specialist (not culligan or kinetico.) The owner is coming out tomorrow to do a free water test and give me a quote. Says he's certified going on 30 years now, has done a lot of homes around my neighborhood, and the fact that he's one of 3 state certified labs in northern michigan seems like he might actually know what he's doing but we'll see.

I was in a home today near mine and they had a Hague Hydro Clean HCII TRX that was installed by this local company, not sure how long ago. Just came across an ad for them in the paper advertising their Hague WaterMAX. I've not heard of Hague before, and from what I see they seem expensive. Any one have any experience with these?

Also, the secretary claimed that she thought if I were to bring in a sample of my water that one type of iron could change to the other type by the time I got it to their lab. Is that true?

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 6:11PM
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Hague is VERY expensive and completely proprietary so if you choose Hague you're married to the dealer for parts and service... for better or worse in sickness and in health till...

The reason to use an INDEPENDENT certified lab and not a water treatment company is that an independent lab won't be trying to sell you water treatment equipment.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 6:23PM
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Gotcha, well then I suppose I'll still have him come out just to tell me ferric/ferrous unless that's something I can do myself. Not sure why the only 2 independent labs couldn't tell between the two. I do know that when I turn on that same outside faucet that runs before the softener, I get a spurt of rusty water which then gets clearer. I just filled up a plastic water bottle after running it for a minute and comparing to an unopened bottle with purified water it definitely has a tint. This would indicate ferric, yes? Or do I need something more involved to show me detailed levels?

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 7:09PM
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Perhaps you should talk to a chemist or a lab tech when posing questions rather than a secretary?

On the subject of iron in drinking water... http://www.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/factsheets/ironFS.htm

Google around... there's lots to read out there.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 7:36PM
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Alright, local guy wouldn't tell me ferric or ferrous just told me that his unit would fix everything. From doing my own tests it appears I've ferric as I've stated before. Questions I have about the 5600, is there a site you'd recommend buying from? And are the addons like a turbulator and such actually worth it or are they just gimmicks? What type of media should I get?

Also, the local guy said (with his system) I would still get iron buildup in my toilet and shower which seemed ridiculous to me. That's what I get now without having to spend $2000 on his Hague, is that true even with proper filtration?

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 12:50PM
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Hi why would that purple stuff be pumping in the water line can anyone help

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 9:30PM
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First, a little forum etiquette: Start a new thread for a new question. It will get the attention it deserves and not get mixed up with someone else's information.

Second: When you do start your new thread, please be more clear. What purple stuff are you talking about? Provide details about your specific issue and we'll see what we can do to help.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 9:58PM
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