Well water treatment system

Drewman141August 27, 2012

I have been lurking around this forum for a while and there is some really great information here! I have some questions on treating the well water with a full treatment system. I apologize if this has been covered so many times already.

We just moved into a 2600sqft, 4 bed, 3.5 bath. There is a nonfunctioning Jacuzzi tub in the Master which will eventually be replaced with a two person shower. Currently we are a family of 2 adults and 1 baby. We plan to add another 2 or 3 over the next few years. I also anticipate having a steady stream of visitors coming and going on the weekends. The well, is estimated at over 300' deep and the pump is a 2HP. With the bucket test, I calculate the flow rate to be about 12.4gpm. We don't have much in the way of history on the house but from what I can tell, maintenance was severely lacking for the last 10 years and it was empty for almost a year. The plumbing is a dysfunctional mess of copper and I will be replacing most of it going to a PEX manifold setup. The line from the well is 1". I will be installing a new Amtrol WX-255 tank. From the tank I will continue 1" to a BB Sediment filter; from the filter I will T off to the outside spigot loop and the inside loop; output from the softener will go down to 3/4" which will feed the manifold including hot water. Each fixture will eventually have its own 1/2" supply off the manifold. Drinking water will be treated by RO after the softener.

The previous owner had to shock the well due to bacteria at time of sale. The retest was negative as was the lab test I had done 6 weeks later. The results of my test are below.

From what I can tell the items we should treat are the hardness (7gpg), the Manganese (.06ppm) and the turbidity (5ntu). I had Kinetico out to test the water and their results were similar except he wasn't getting any Manganese and Iron of .05ppm. Then, when he told me the price, I just about fell out of the chair. I would like to believe the lab's results over his little test packets. That and the fact that he took his sample from a valve that probably hadn't been worked in over 10-15 years, makes his results questionable at best. We have the classic white hardness stains on all of the fixtures. We do get some sediment coming out of the faucets occasionally, kind of looks like decomposed granite (black fine sand). No odors or off tastes. The inside of the toilet tanks are coated with a black slime. When you rub it off it is a brown/reddish color stain on your skin and a black silt. And there is some black staining on some of the fixtures.

So from what I was calculating we would need a 48K softener. From my research on this forum it looks like I am looking at between a 1.5-2.0cuft unit. I was planning on the Fleck 5600SXT head. What else would I need for the softener? I will be ordering the softener from OPWC. In terms of the BB sediment filter how many microns should it be? I was thinking 5mic and the Kinetico guy said 30mic just to get the big stuff, the media will get down to 5mic. Is that accurate or best practice? Should there be any other filtration after the softener (ie. BB carbon block, finer sediment)? What are your thoughts on installing UV disinfection? I was looking at the Trojan UV Max Pro units, which are quite expensive. I've found mixed reviews on needing it for such a deep well.

I am a big proponent of over engineering and over building and getting the best my money can buy. Water quality for my family is very important to me and I would like to build the best treatment system I can. Thanks for all the help, it's greatly appreciated!

Lab Test Results:

Parameter MCL MDL Result

(mg/L) (mg/L) (mg/L)

TOTAL COLIFORM BACTERIA E. COLI BACTERIA Alkalinity (total) no mcl - 176

Aluminum 0.2 .01 nd

Antimony .006 .005 nd

Arsenic 0.01 .002 nd

Barium 2.0 0.1 nd

Beryllium .004 .002 nd

Boron no mcl .005 nd

Bromine - - nd

Cadmium .005 .004 nd

Calcium no mcl 0.1 nd

Cesium - - nd

Chloride 250 .05 12.7

Chromium 0.1 .002 nd

Hexavalent Chromium no mcl .002 nd

Color 15.0 c.u. - 9

Conductivity no mcl - 247

Copper 1.0 .01 nd

Corrosivity/ Index Langlier -5 to + 5 - -.56

Fluoride 2.0 0.2 .88

Hardness (CaCO3) 250 0.5 120

Iodine - - nd

Iron 0.3 .03 nd

Lead 0.01 .002 nd

Magnesium no mcl .005 .84

Manganese 0.05 .01 .06

Mercury 0.002 .002 nd

Molybdenum no mcl .002 nd

Nickel no mcl .005 nd

Nitrates 10 .2 .12

Odor 3 ton - pH 6.5-8.5 - 7.72

Potassium no mcl .01 3.50

Radium (total) - - nd

Salinity 50 - low

Selenium .05 .002 nd

Silica - - nd

Silver 1.0 .005 nd

Sodium 50 .01 24.1

Strontium - - nd

Sulfate 250 1.0 12

Tin - - nd

Thallium 2.0 .002 nd

Titanium - - nd

(TDS) Total Dissolved Solids 500 - 234

Turbidity no mcl - 5

Uranium (total) - - nd

Vanadium - - nd

Zinc 5.0 .01 .30

MCL = Maximum Contaminant Level MDL = Minimum Detection Level nd = none detected at the level of the mdl ug/L = ppb (parts per billion) mg/L = ppm (parts per million)

c.u. = Color Unit mho = Reciprocal ohm ton = Threshold Odor Number > = greater than

ntu = Nephelometric Turbidity Unit * - Closest Match ** = Exceeds USEPA Limits pCi/L = Picocuries per liter

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The smaller the micron rating of the pre-filter the quicker it will clog and bring problems associated with reduced flow rate like inadequate backwash for the softener.

Use the big BB filter housings and you may need to use two in parallel to get 12 gpg flow. Install ball valves before the BB housings so it's EZ to replace the elements. Also install pressure gauges before and after each BB housing so you can see the pressure drop and know when to change the elements.

With 1" plumbing serving the softener I'd choose the Fleck 7000SXT rather than the 5600 3/4" valve. I'd want a top basket for the 7000 and a gravel underbed regardless of how hard the seller tries to tell you that it isn't necessary... cause it costs them money and cuts into their profit.

I'd also want a name brand resin and not the anonymous stuff online sellers seem to favor these days from the great Chinese resin company like Nelsen Corp resin.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2012 at 3:27PM
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Thanks lurker. So if I get the unit from OPWC does that mean upgrading to the fine mesh resin or the SST60 Resin?

10-4 on plumbing in the valves and gauges for the BB's. I was planing on the full flow 20" which is listed as having a 1psi drop @ 15gpm. With a 20mic pleated filter would that be significant to the overall pressure drop? I'm running a 30/50 pressure switch. Ideally we'd like to be able to run 2 showers and still be able to flush a toilet and not have the showers fall to a trickle. Hopefully the new 81gal tank will help with that.

Any thoughts or opinions on the UV treatment? Is it more of a better safe than sorry type of system? Is it even necessary if we are using RO for the drinking water?

    Bookmark   August 27, 2012 at 5:54PM
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Brand name standard hi-capacity resin. No need for fine mesh or SST. Not sure what OPWC is using for resin these days. I assume they're using whatever is the least expensive that their whorehouse drop-shipper carries. IMO the resin and control valve is the heart of the softener and if one seller won't offer what I want then I shop elsewhere.

"... full flow 20" which is listed as having a 1psi drop @ 15gpm" IIRC that is the spec for an empty housing and does not consider pressure drop with an element in there or the differences in pressure drop among the different elements you might use.

If there's no bacteria then why would you want a UV?

An RO is not a bacteria removal device.

Routine annual testing for bacteria and nitrates when living on a well is the better safe than sorry move to make.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2012 at 6:23PM
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Is the Purolite C100E resin a good name brand? Is the Purolite SST just a gimick or does it actually reduce salt usage? Is the 1.5cuft capacity the correct size?

I understand the water needs to be tested annually. My original thoughts on the UV were it's disinfecting the water 24x7. With testing once a year there could be bacteria in the water a week after the test and you wouldn't know until the next test a year later. From a cost standpoint it is almost a no brainer that it is far cheaper to test every year than treat a nonexistent condition. Perhaps instead of a full house UV system I will just treat the RO line at a fraction of the cost.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2012 at 11:10AM
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The softener arrived. It is the Fleck 7000sxt, 1" bypass, 1.5 cu ft Purolite C100e, gravel underbed, top basket, etc. Can someone please help me with the programming settings?

    Bookmark   September 1, 2012 at 12:16AM
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Can anyone help with the programming settings? I would like to install the softener today. Let me know if more info is needed. TIA.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 8:33AM
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I have the softener all plumbed in and need help with the programming. The number in the brine connector is 123 and the number in the drain elbow is 255. I need to get it turned on today if possible, please help.


    Bookmark   September 5, 2012 at 10:18AM
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Sorry - I wasn't ignoring you, just assumed lurker would be by since he had been helping. You jumped the gun a bit and purchased a softener that is a bit large for your situation (even if you do add 3 more children). That is okay, but be aware this will cause you to use more salt than is necessary, about 5 - 7 lb extra per month, depending upon how much water you use. You will appreciate the ability to get more flow through the larger softener - your jacuzzi tub will receive fully softened water.

I'm having terrible trouble with my internet connection, so will post now before I lose connection again. More later.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2012 at 4:22PM
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A. Read your entire manual.
B. Install the softener per instructions in the manual.
C. Follow start-up instruction on page 5 of the manual.
D. Pg 11 - Master Programming Mode - Enter Master Programming Mode per instructions.
E. Set as follows:

1. GAL (US Gallons)
2. St2b
3. Fd
4. 1
5. 48
6. 7.5 (7 grains hardness + 0.06Mn x 5 then rounded up to nearest 0.5)
7. rc
8. 20
9. 0

  1. 7
  2. 2:00 (this is the time when it will regen. If you prefer another time of day, set this differently. Pick a time when you will not typically use water for a couple of hours)
  3. BW = 10, BD = 60, BW = 5, RR = 10, BF = Okay, here we need info. Locate your BLFC. There should be a colored sticker (blue, red or black) where brine enters the valve assembly. The sticker will say 0.5 gpm, 0.25 gpm or 1.0 gpm. If the valve says 0.5 (typical) then set this time to 3 minutes. If 0.25, set to 6 minutes. If 1.0, set to 1.5 minutes.
  4. Don't change
  5. Don't change
  6. Don't change
  7. Don't change
    Exit Master Programming Mode

F. Enter User Programming Mode (we are now on page 18 in the manual)
G. Set as follows
1. DO = 7
2. RT = 2:00 am or time of your choice
3. H = 7.5
4. RC = no change
5. CD = set the current day

H. Exit user program mode.

I. Enjoy

    Bookmark   September 5, 2012 at 4:53PM
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I didn't post because I hadn't yet made a sizing recommendation and the OP had posted for help on another forum so I begged off. I'm in conflict avoidance mode these days.

7000SXTs are commonly coming with .125 BLFC from online sellers.

48k capacity with 7 gpg hardness and 3 lbs salt per gallon? Really? If BLFC = .5 x 3 minutes = total salt dose of 4.5 lbs for 1.5 cubes of resin..

    Bookmark   September 5, 2012 at 5:32PM
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Drewman - If your BLCF is 0.125, then #13 BF = 12. And #5 should be 18 (sorry - was trying to get done quickly between other obligations)

These settings will work fine until you add child #4, at which point you will want to reset #5 and #13 to use a higher salt dosage. However, that is likely years down the road. If you want to know those setting now, I can provide them. Let me know.

lurker - Yes, I intended a salt dose of 4.5 lbs (3 lbs/cuft of resin) because the softener is so oversized with only 3 people in the house. 3 lb salt per cuft resin is the lowest reasonable salt dosage. But, you are correct, should be more like 18,000 capacity. Realistically though, doesn't matter at present - The system is oversized and, unless they use loads of water (100 gpd/person), will regenerate based on time. Good catch - Thanks.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2012 at 6:12PM
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I avoid salt doses down around 3 lb/cu ft and opt to use more salt especially when the softener is larger than optimum. With a salt dose that low if there's a couple people visiting hardness will leak through and you'd have to waste a lot of salt doing two max dose regens back to back to recover the resin's max hardness removal capacity. JMO

    Bookmark   September 5, 2012 at 6:51PM
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I'm very sorry if I seemed impatient. I had a hard deadline to get everything installed over the long weekend and was having a mild panic attack that I wasn't going to get the water turned back on in time... I'm happy to report I was able to get everything installed, leak free and turned on in time.

I am OK with having an oversized system as I will not have to worry about it not being able to handle the load. We plan to be at least a family of 5 in the next 4 years. And we have a constant stream of visitors on the weekends, could be 3-10 extra people (think Everyone Loves Raymond).

So with a BLCF of .125 are all of the settings above correct? I'm OK with sacrificing a 5-10lbs of salt per month in the name of system availability. Whatever you guys think is best.

Thanks again for all the help. I can't tell you how much I appreciate it!

    Bookmark   September 5, 2012 at 7:26PM
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At a 3#/cuft salt dosage with 3 extra people, your softener will need to regen every 4 - 5 days. No problem. With 10 extra people, your softener will need to regen every 2 - 3 days while you have the extras there, assuming they all take showers, etc. This is also really not a problem. You need 48 hours between regens to adequately dissolve salt. It's not perfect, but any time you swing the house population that wildly you compromise. If you have any actual water usage numbers, we can be more accurate.

Set it at 3#/cuft, or set it at 6#/cuft. You are not likely to get any hardness bleed through either way. Setting at six will use twice as much salt per month. You will go from 17 lb salt per month to 34. Your $ - your back - your peace of mind - your call.

lurker - Sometimes the WHY is important. I would love to hear your explanation as to WHY "if there's a couple people visiting hardness will leak through" in this situation.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2012 at 10:20PM
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Brain lock... not hardness leak through rather a couple visitors would force more frequent regen which wastes water and salt.

I know what you're saying... I just don't agree and would raise the salt dose and capacity to get more grains of hardness removed per # of salt. It would use more salt but no more water.

With the OP's occupancy, water conditions, and 12 gpm SFR requirement any choice is a compromise. I'd have gone in another direction entirely.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 12:03AM
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More brain lock... ignore this from previous post...

I know what you're saying... I just don't agree and would raise the salt dose and capacity to get more grains of hardness removed per # of salt. It would use more salt but no more water.

Way too late... need sleep.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 12:16AM
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OK. I completed the programming last night with Alice's recommendation of 3lbs/cuft. I will keep track of the usage and report back.

Lurker - just curious what would have been your suggestion? I'm trying to understand all there is to know about treating well water as I grew up on city water and this is fairly new territory.

From all of the research I did on the subject and from the discussions here the consensus was that the online calcs are fairly useless and often undersized. When I ran the calc I based it on 12gpm sfr, 6 people with a hardness of 7 and manganese of 1 and I got 48k. Which was also the size the Kinetico guy came up with. Just would like to know what you think the proper size should've been.

Once again, I cannot thank the both of you enough!

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 1:45PM
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