New house on well--water report. Think I need a water softener?

tracey_bAugust 21, 2010

Our new well profile indicates that everything is below the "allowable limit", but it appears we have 9.41 grains of hardness. I read that between 7-10.5 grains = "Hard water". I know some in the neighborhood don't have softeners and think the water is fine, even a year or two after moving in. However, I've lived with hard water before (harder than these numbers suggest) and hated it. I'd rather NOT have to have a softener, but just in case, I had a drain put in the basement mechanical room for just in case. I'm not in the house yet, so I don't have a feel for the water while bathing, etc., but if I'm going to need one, I'd just as soon start off with one. Any recommendations?

Other numbers in the report are (unit = mg/L):

Lead <.005 limit .015>Manganese <.03 .05>Iron <.10 .30>Nitrate Nitrite <.10>Sulfate 98 (AL 250)

pH 8.1

Sodium 20

Calcium 42

Magnesium 14

Total Hardness 160 (9.41 grains)

Other analytes were very low.

Thank you for any direction you can provide me!


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With hardness around 10gpg and manganese at .03 with iron at .1 you are smart to be considering a softener.

Aside from the niceties of soft water a softener will lengthen the service life of the plumbing, fixtures, and appliances. Your clothes will last longer and you'll save money by using far less soap and detergent.

Ok, water softener 101 ...

Hit the Yellow Pages and call at least three local water treatment pros. Make sure you call at least one of the big dogs like Kinetico or Culligan for comparison and at least a couple independent pros. 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. 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.

If you're a DIYer then you have other options but they must be discussed privately by email. But remember, when you do it yourself there's no one else to blame.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2010 at 11:21AM
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Wow, that was fast--and thanks for the information and suggestions.

At our last house, we had a Culligan system. It worked just fine, but I don't remember the model, etc. (It regenerated on demand is all I remember). In the 12 yrs we were there, we only needed 1 service call to replace a small part.

Do you think that a "simple" softener is all I might need? I was reading elsewhere about other types of treatments to water.

Our current water testing was done by the NC State Laboratory of Public Health. I suppose it is to be the test most relied upon when comparing water softener company tests?

No, this won't be a DIY. Gotta have someone to call when needed....hubby won't answer his phone :-)

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   August 21, 2010 at 12:48PM
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Simple is good. Less moving parts and less to go wrong. Stick with ion exchange "on demand" water softeners... field proven for decades and decades and decades.

The PH is a touch high and we'd need to know how many people in the house and how many bathrooms but based on the water conditions you posted a correctly sized and properly set up softener should do what you need with minimal maintenance and a long service life.

Take your time and shop around locally. Bring the specific recommendations of each company and we'll comment.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2010 at 1:11PM
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Thanks, justalurker. I'll start checking around this week.

The house is 4 bedroom with 3 full baths, but the septic is set up for 5 bedroom (because of an unfinished basement with extra bedroom potential). However, there's only 2 of us living here full-time.

Thanks again.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2010 at 7:46PM
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Then I would size the softener for 4 people (or 5 if you plan to add that bedroom) and short salt it to the correct setting for two people.

That way, if your household expands to 4 or 5 or if you sell the house then the softener would be correctly sized for full occupancy and you can point out that the softener is a value add to the house.

Let's see what quotes you get cause the recommendations the companies make will be the indicator of whether that company knows what they're doing.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2010 at 8:00PM
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I agree with Justalurker especially about exploring local providers and talking with friends/neighbors about performance. Unless you're serious DIY fellow, you will have to depend upon who you can get locally. Sort 'em out.

I'm partial to Kinetico where I live but I don't know how they may represented where you live.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2010 at 8:30PM
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