Water Treatment Question

Chad_in_NCOctober 4, 2012

Ok - so since Easywater didn't work last year, I decided to look into softeners for treating our hard water.

We have 2 1/2 baths. 6 children aged 12 yrs - 13 month, two adults.

Our water has been tested. I'm not sure what you all need, but here is what I know.

11 gpg hardness

220 dissolved solids

manganese is .06 ppm

and silica, the reason why Easywater said they couldn't treat my water was between 25 & 30 ppm.

I've had the local Kinetico dealer out, and he has been fantastic. He explained that our clothes are dingy because of the manganese, and he said their system is great at removing Manganese. he also said there isn't a softener out there that will remove silica.

He quoted $2895 to install the Kinetco 2030s, and $200 more for the 2060 system. I'm leaning towards the 2030 because i can't see spending more for the 2060 since the flow on the 2030 will go up to 15 gpm.

Question on silica - is 25-30ppm high? Will the softener fix our problems? I know it will not touch the silica, but will the silica continue to be a problem, and what would those problems be?


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Before we can calculate proper softener size, a few questions:

1. Do you have any high-water-use items, such as a jacuzzi tub, hot tub, multi-head shower?

2. City or well water?

3. pH? alkalinity? iron? It's a little odd to have manganese without iron, but not impossible so let's verify. Tests should be done by an independent lab.

4. Fill a clear glass with water and look at it against a white background. Does the water have any color? If so, what color? Are there any particles in the water? If so, what size and color? Now let the water sit for a few hours and pour another glass. Compare the two. Is the first one darker than the second? More particles?

5. Maximum flow you can obtain? Ideally, use a hose spigot as close to the location your softener will be as possible and time how long it takes to fill a 5 gallon bucket with the spout fully open. If this is not possible, open both hot and cold on a bathtub and record the time to fill a bucket. At worst, you can tell me the size of your pluming and the lowest pressure you get into your home.

6. Have you had anyone beside Kinetico out to take a look? Sometimes it's good to get an alternative - if nothing else, it's a negotiating point.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 3:51PM
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1. No
2. Well
3. pH - 7.6, alkalinity - no clue, iron, tested negative
4. Very clear in both instances. I could tell no difference.
5. My well provides 12 gpm. Our pipes are 3/4 inch throughout. I can run both showers without any noticable difference in pressure from running just one shower. In fact, the only time I can tell a drop in pressure is when the washer comes on (and it's minimal) or when the tub faucets are turned on (more noticable).
6. I had another guys that installs Hague systems out, and his numbers were much different (he was telling me my problems were worse, and tried to sell me the most expensive system he has). When I told him I was shopping, he said there was no point, that everyone else would lie to me and sell me an inferior product. Sorry, but I don't trust anyone that tells me that. Plus, he was arrogant and got ticked off when I told him I was shopping.

Let me know if you need more info.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 10:50AM
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I don't blame you one bit for not wishing to work with someone who is difficult before they get your money - imagine how awful he would be if you wanted service after the sale.

I recommend a standard system with a Fleck valve because they have proven reliability. I'm not a big fan of Kinetico. They do make a quality product. I just find them overpriced and they can be problematic on well water if you have any sediment at all.

You want:
1. 2.5 cubic ft resin
2. Gravel underbed (NOT optional, particularly in a larger softener)
3. Top basket
4. 8% crosslinked resin, American made - higher quality, better size control = longer life
5. Metered valve rather than timed - regeneration will occur after the specified gallons have passed through the softener instead of based on time - improves efficiency. Fleck 5600sxt would work well for you.
6. Noryl bypass valve, 3/4"
7. Grid plate or salt platform in brine tank

If you are handy and don't mind installing yourself, you should be able to get what you need for around $800. If you wish to go this route, you could hire a plumber to install for you. Once you decide on a softener and have it on site, I can tell you how to program it. Realize, this leaves you on your own, without local service so you want to be very comfortable with that before choosing to DIY.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 11:48AM
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"Fleck 5600sxt would work well for you"

No it won't... a 2.5 cube softener uses a 13x54 tank which exceeds the 12" maximum tank diameter recommended for any Fleck 5600. click here for 5600 valve specifications

Best valve choices are a Fleck 7000SXT or Clack WS1

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 12:15PM
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ok - so I was sold on Kinetico because I like the idea of not running out of soft water. The twin tank design really seems to make sense.

Am I missing somthing here (gullible)? It's expensive, but i have had several folks recommend the local guys that install Kinetico, and that have their systems and are happy with them.

I don't think doing the install would be something I could tackle. Also, what's the deal with the gravel underbed? Why is that important?

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 3:51PM
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Kinetico is a brilliant design and they have a loyal customer base.

That said, since all the parts are proprietary and they will not provide service literature so you will be married to your local dealer... for better or for worse. If the dealer provides excellent service and charges reasonable prices for parts or sells end users parts at all then you'll most likely be happy. If not, then you'll have learned a very expensive lesson because Kinetico corporate doesn't seem to want to get involved in customer vs dealer disputes.

Gravel underbeds mitigate pressure loss through the resin and are recommended for softeners with freeboard. Some packed resin bed design softeners using fine mesh resin don't need a gravel underbed.

Twin resin tank softeners are not unique to Kinetico and are offered by local independent water treatment pros and on the internet using industry standard components and usually at 1/3 of what a like size Kinetico will cost.

BTW, correctly sized and set up single resin tank softeners don't run out of soft water.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 5:23PM
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If you are sold on Kinetico and their rep - absolutely go with them. That they are not worth the money for me does not mean they aren't for you. Just be sure to address any sediment issues, if you have them, upstream of the softener. Kinetico uses a finer mesh resin so sediment is much more difficult to separate during backwash. You're not gullible - Kinetico makes a quality product and does a fine job training their reps.

Gravel underbed is vital for a standard softener because it forces the water into a good flow pattern with even distribution so it doesn't channel. Channeling is basically when water runs through only a small portion of the resin bed - hardness breaks through quickly and you don't get good, soft water. It is vital for a thorough, effective backwash and brine. Do softeners function without gravel beds? Sure - there are lots of them out there. They just aren't functioning as well as they should and will have shorter lives. There are softeners that use other methods to force correct water distribution. They tend to be more expensive and less reliable than gravel.

lurker - When we backwash a resin bed, we want 50% expansion of the bed. For a quality resin that means at most 6 gpm/sqft if the water were at 77F, which is the worst case scenario for well water. The only place in the US this is applicable is Florida - everywhere else it is cooler. If we assume the worst case is true, for a 13" tank, we need a flow rate of 5.6 gpm. If water temperature is lower than 77F, a lower flow rate is required. The spec on a Fleck 5600 is 7 gpm.

While it is true that the spec sheet has a section called "typical applications" that lists 6 - 12" diameter softener, you may note that typical is not the same thing as a specified maximum. If, however, a softener was installed with inferior resin with poor coefficient of uniformity, you would be absolutely correct. This, among many other reasons, is why I would never suggest using inferior resin.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 5:27PM
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A ways back I wanted a more detailed explanation of that spec and contacted Fleck. An engineer there was adamant that no 5600 be used with on a softener a tank that exceeded 12" diameter.

You are, of course, free to do whatever you like with your own system but recommending exceeding manufacturer specs on the forum is at least irresponsible. I'll leave you to make recommendations that are outside those set my the manufacturer.

This is another example of a why versus how question where we disagree but I'll follow the manufacturer's specs.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 6:14PM
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If that is the case they have a poorly written spec and should fix it. You shouldn't have to call an engineer at the company to find out that "typical" means specified max. Of course we should follow the manufacturer's specs ---- If the OP doesn't go with Kinetico, a Fleck 7000 SXT would be the way to go.

Did the engineer provide an explanation? I would be interested in hearing it - because WHY determines HOW.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 8:18PM
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The manufacturer's specifications and the HOW gets the job done while the WHY is being contemplated.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 8:34PM
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ok - one more question (for what its worth, we've decided on kinetico - we've talked to local folks that have dealt with them, and they have all had nothing but positive things to say).

Why does soft water feel slimy when taking a shower? Like the soap isn't washing off? I've heard (from the rep) that that 'silky' feel is actually the natural oils in our skin that are able to escape now that we are getting rid of all the soap. he even did a demo in our home where we lathered up our hands, rinsed on in soft water and one in hard water and lick the back of our hands. the hand rinsed in soft water had no taste (or smell) while the hand rinsed in soft water smelled like the soap and tasted like soap.

Then I find stuff like the link below that uses chemistry to show that soft water doesn't (can't) rinse soap as well as hard water.

so what's the truth?

Also, with soft water, what kind of detergent should we use for the dishwasher?


Here is a link that might be useful: Chemistry of soft water and soap

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 4:10PM
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If you have a good local Kinetico dealer then you can look forward to at least a decade of reliable service from your softener.

There are volumes of info out there about the slimy feeling of soft water and you linked one... click here for another

My experience has been that almost all people who get a softener for the first time are adamant that they do not like the feeling. Not that the feeling is bad or good... just new and different. Most of those people have no comment one way or the other after a few months other than that their hair feels better, their clothes feel softer, they clean faucets and such easier and less often, and they use lots less soap and detergent.

As for detergent for your dishwasher... start with less of whatever the manufacturer recommends and experiment.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 4:33PM
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Chad - Realize that the article you have linked is valid only for soap, NOT detergent. They are chemically different. It is more likely that you are using detergent and not soap. Using liquid "soap"? That's detergent, not soap. Many bar "soaps" are now actually detergent rather than soap. Dishwasher detergent and laundry detergents are not soap. Detergents rinse just fine in soft water.

What the article fails to address as well, is that soap, in conjunction with dirt, forms a very sticky coagulant (bathtub ring is an example you may be familiar with). When faced with hard water, soap forms the same sticky mass, which makes your skin squeaky, but not necessarily squeaky clean. While it is possible, after washing with soap and soft water, that you will have some soap residue, you will have less dirt residue compared with hard water. The article is correct that using less of either detergent or soap is the way to go - you need less with soft water.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 5:29PM
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so then, truth be told, soft water really doesn't wash soap as well as hard water (ast least from the skin).

why then does the taste test work the opposite way (the hand rinsed in soft water has no soapy taste while the hand rinsed in hard water does)?

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 12:27PM
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Was soap or detergent used?

The amount also plays into it.

This also assumes skin that is already clean, very clean.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 1:05PM
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well, based on the above explanation, i'm not sure.

i can tell you it was a bar of safeguard. is that soap or detergent?

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 1:45PM
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It is soap.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 4:03PM
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Needless to say, you need to filter the water, I guess preferably before the softener etc.

I don't know too much about water treatment, but I do know that Silica's not entirely soluble in water, so you should be able to filter out some of it.

You want at least one filter, or more than one in parallel to improve the flow, just a gross pollutant (sediment) filter before the pressure tank, softener system etc, and you could go with one with charcoal after. An RO system for the kitchen drinking water perhaps.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 11:44PM
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alan - Unless there are actual particles in the water a sediment filter will do nothing. Chad's silica is dissolved silica, not sand in the water. Water treatment starts with testing, then applying the appropriate treatment based on test results, NOT guessing and NOT simply installing a filter because it might have worked for someone with entirely different water.

Chad - I realized after reading alan's comments that I had not addressed your silica question. Your silica levels are not high and should not present an issue. Your Kinetico dealer is correct - no softener will remove silica. Softeners use a strong cation exchange resin. These resins have positively charged sodium hanging off of them and exchange them for more highly positively charged ions such as calcium, magnesium, iron, manganese. Dissolved silica is present in water a silicic acid, which has a negative charge. An anion exchange resin would be required to remove it.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 12:13AM
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Thanks alice!

So, back to the soap question - why is it that soft water doesn't rinse it as well as hard water, yet the "taste test" seems to show that it does?

Is the "taste test" a hoax put on by salesmen to make a sale?

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 9:01AM
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