Best Soft Water

DBounlomDecember 7, 2012

Hi guys. This is my first post. I do commonly read these forums a lot, and it has been so helpful. I want to thank everyone in the forums for all of their great insight.

I am in search of a good solution for my hard water. I judge hard water by the lack of soap forming as well as the white chalky residue on my appliances and shower door.

I have read up on several different systems. I am skeptical about salt-free systems such as the Pelican and Nuvoh2o. I'll use Nuvoh2o as an example. It seems to me that the chemistry and theory is sound. I believe that using a citrus based filter as a chelating agent would work to precipitate out the calcium. However, it doesn't seem like there is a chelating agent out there strong enough for human consumption. Based on their water estimates also, I would have to change the filter every two months, not six.

I am leaning toward an ion exchange system. However, my main water line to the house is outside the house in between the front yard and the street. If I use an ion exchange system, it seems like I would have to get a plumber to re-pipe my house to separate the water to the yard versus the house. I live in the Los Angeles suburb. I have a 1650 square foot house on approximately an 8000 sq ft lot. I've read that Kinetico systems are pretty good.

1. I want to know the exact gpm count in my water. What hard water test kit do you guys recommend that I can buy online?

2. What type of system or solution do you guys recommend for my hard water problem? Why do you recommend it?

3. Do perfectly sized ion exchange soft water systems always leave the soapy feeling on the skin after showering? Or is that only for incorrectly sized ion exchange softeners?

Thanks everyone.

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I can speak from experience that installing an ion exchange softener is one of the best home improvements that I made.

I no longer need to explain to guests that 'yes the drinking glasses are clean, it's just the hard water'. I'm in Maryland and the first two winters here caused my skin to dry out, scratch, and crack mercilessly. Guess what? It wasn't the winter air so much as it was my hard water drying my skin (along with the lower winter humidity). Wife loves the soft water, say her hair is softer and has more bounce. What else? Oh yeah, those grey dingy toilet stains that I could never scrub off disappeared after about 4 months of softened water, the 10 year old bowels look as bright as the ones at home depot.

Now to your questions:
Skip the DIY water tests. Get a local lab to test the water ($50 here in the MD/DC area). Any installer is going to want to know hardness, PH, dissolved solids (turbidity), iron, and maybe manganese. The installer will run the tests, but having your own set will help with evaluating the system recommendations.

Can't recommend a solution without knowing a results of aforementioned tests along with daily water usage and service flow rate needed.

If you use an ion exchange softener it will, by design, supply water with zero hardness until the resin bed exchange capacity is exhausted. At which time it will then be recharged typically using nacl or kcl. Will it result in the saopy/slimy feeling on your skin - probably. But I love it! Remember, the squeaky clean feeling that your currently experiencing is actually the effect of the hardness in your water affecting how your skin feels.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2012 at 4:25AM
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What remington said, with a couple of exceptions/additions:

Dissolved solids is not the same thing as turbidity. Turbidity is a measurement of clarity and is caused by suspended (non-dissolved) solids and colloidal materials.

You want test results from an independent lab to get ACCURATE numbers. The sales folks that come to your house from the various vendors will use field tests that can be very accurate in the right hands. However, most of those folks use poor technique at best and will be well off the actual numbers. You city water report can be a good resource for you as well. Be aware that the water can pick up a few things on its way to your home, particularly iron which makes a huge difference when specifying a softener.

You want to know: pH, TDS (total dissolved solids), iron, manganese, chlorine/chloramine (I assumed city water based on your description), hardness, alkalinity, particulates (if you have them in your water you want to know amount and type).

Does your water have an objectionable odor or color?
Do you see rust-colored staining in toilets, showers, sinks?

You do not want to water your yard with sodium-softened water. Your grass/plants will not thank you for it. This leaves you two options. 1) As you mentioned, plumb to your outdoor faucets with untreated water, 2) regenerate your softener with KCl (potassium chloride) rather than NaCl (sodium chloride). KCl is more expensive, plus you will be treating alot more water. If you have a way to determine how much water you use indoors vs your total water bill, we can give you an idea what the cost difference would be.

Water softener providers:
Kinetico, as you mentioned, is good. They do tend to be the most expensive option. Their equipment is reliable, sales people are generally well-trained, and they do not require electricity.

Other national vendors such as Culligan are good. They sell reliable equipment, but sales people are generally less well trained.

Local vendors are well worth your time. Their prices are typically good and they have access to the same reliable equipment (Fleck valves) as the big guys, but often with more personal attention and better prices.

Once you have test results and a few vendor quotes, we can help ensure you get a correctly sized softener if we know the following:

1. Test results
2. # of people in the home
3. # of bathrooms
4. Any high-water-use items such as pools, jacuzzi tubs, mult-head showers?
5. Frequent guests?

There are a few things that you want:

1. 10% crosslinked resin (to resist chlorine)
2. gravel under-bed
3. top basket
4. USA-made resin (higher quality and better size control)
5. fine-mesh resin IF you have iron, standard if no iron
6. Fleck valve or equivalent
7. Anyone who gives you a quote should perform tests.
8. If a vendor is not responsive before the sale, they will be less so afterward.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 10:53AM
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