Well Water Woes

RheaTDecember 6, 2011

We live in upstate NY, in a rural area. We have a well and are not pleased with the quality of water. We have a problem with hard water, as well as a problem with iron reducing bacteria.

We have an old Culligan water softener that we own. It's producing over-softened water. I wish we had the ability to set the pH, but we don't. We can only control water flow into the salt tank; a very inefficient process.

We also have a Culligan chlorinator that we rent. It works, but only efficiently when we are using lots of water, thereby flushing the pipes. It seems like a very wasteful process to us. If we don't open the taps to flush the pipes regularly the chlorinator cannot keep up with the bacteria buildup and we have stinky, foul-tasting water.

Looking for any and all advice on alternatives to Culligan that will help with these two issues (iron reducing bacteria and a healthy water pH.)


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There is no such thing as "over-softened" water. Water is either 0 hardness (soft) or it is hard.

Water softeners do not treat PH.

Could be the resin in your softener is fouled or the softener is undersized or not set up properly if you've been fiddling with the water flow to the brine tank.

If, at some point, the water treatment hardware you have was doing it's job either the conditions of the water in the well have changed (not unusual) or the equipment is not functioning properly.

The first step is to get a comprehensive water test done by an independent certified lab. Hardness, iron, manganese, magnesium, copper, sodium, arsenic, TDS, nitrates, bacteria, and PH for starters.

When you have the test results you'll need to get a water treatment pro in there, maybe Culligan since you're renting, and they can see what needs to be treated and if your present equipment is correct and working properly.

Another alternative if you want to start from scratch...

Get a water test from an independent lab. An independent lab has no agenda and won't be trying to sell you water treatment equipment. This is a MUST DO because without it everything is a guess. A quickie water test from Sears or a water softener company won't be as accurate (and possibly not as competent) as from a certified independent lab.

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.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2011 at 9:36AM
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Thanks for the info. Sounds like a very good plan of action.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2011 at 5:08PM
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I have never owned nor serviced any water treatment equipment other than filters. But I always install those so that they can be isolated from the plumbing system and also install a valved bypass to be used if necessary. In other words, if some part of the treatment system fails, it could be shut out of the system and bypassed, making untreated water available for use.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2011 at 6:31PM
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