Return to the Plumbing Forum | Post a Follow-Up

 o
RO system with well water?

Posted by juleecat (My Page) on
Thu, Mar 28, 13 at 11:57

We have a well with whole house Kinetico water softening system. Have had intermittent issues with hard water in the last few months ( very easy to see as soon as problem arises in form of orange water in toilets). Techs have been out 4 times and now we are suspecting our RO tank that we use for filtered drinking water. It is 10 yrs old and in spite of being super vigilant about upkeep, I believe it is regenerating for several hours at a time, causing softener issues. So. What do we need to look for with a new RO system that is supplied by well water-fluctuating pressure issues? Kinetico tech wouldn't guarantee issues would be resolved with their RO unit. Our current tank is 4 gal, which is large enough for the two of us. New frig has inside water s picket that we would like to connect to RO, along with faucet at sink. Thanks!


Follow-Up Postings:

 o
RE: RO system with well water?

A properly installed RO system cannot cause a problem with your softener. What leads you to believe it is a problem in your case? Did a Kinetico tech suggest this to you?

If you are getting periodic hard water, the problem begins and ends with your softener. The opposite IS true however. Softener problems could cause problems with your RO.


 o
RE: RO system with well water?

Hi Alice! I was hoping you would respond! Yes, the techs are telling us that a low flow through the RO tank can cause the softener to not regenerate properly. (We have ruled out any slow leaks in toilets, faucets,etc) We have noticed that the ro system sometimes runs for many hours. They have taken apart the softener system, cleaned, reset regeneration time, etc. We have not had recurrence of hard water since kinnetico's last visit, but that was only 2 wks ago. System is under warranty one more year, so we need to get this figured out!


 o
RE: RO system with well water?

What brand/model is your RO? An RO doesn't "regenerate" the way a softener does, but if it has a low production rate, it may take it many hours to refill its tank.

What is your water pressure prior to any treatment? Do you have particulates in your water? Well or city water? Did Kinetico install a filter upstream from your softener?


 o
RE: RO system with well water?

Watts Premier WP-5 RO system. The membrane is rated 25 GPD. Therefore it should produce a gallon of RO water per hour. Our tank holds 3 gallons, so shouldn't it refill in 3 hrs?
The well pressure varies between 40-60 psi. Not sure what you mean by particulates, TDS? We have well water. Yes, we have a per- sediment filter that captures primarily iron particulates....thanks!


 o
RE: RO system with well water?

While the membrane is rated 25 GPD, that does not mean it only takes 3 hours to fill your 3 gallon tank. The membrane rating will be at a specific temperature and pressure, typically 70 degrees at 60 psi. If your water is colder and/or pressure is lower, it will take longer. In addition, when the tank is empty, the RO is working against very little pressure and the membrane will produce at maximum flow rate. However, as the tank fills, pressure slowly rises and flow rate slowly decreases. This makes the membrane rating a convenient way to compare systems, but not a method for determining how fast they will produce water in your home.

By particulates, I mean visible sediment or solids in your water. You say your sediment filter is capturing primarily iron particulates. Do you also have any dissolved iron in your water?

It sounds like your Kinetico tech is confused. One of the selling points for Kinetico softeners is the twin-tank design that allows one tank to regenerate while you continue to have soft water available from the other tank. Do you have have a twin-tank system, or one of the Powerline series with only one tank? Is your tech young or fairly new to Kinetico? What is his/her water treatment certification level? Is there another tech s/he can bring in to help?

Where is your RO installed in relation to your softener? Where does the waste water from your RO discharge?Can you post pics of your system? Perhaps there is something I am missing.

If the hardness issue returns, you could bypass or disconnect your RO, for no other reason but to eliminate the excuse your Kinetico tech is using.


 o
RE: RO system with well water?

And the saga continues........we had disconnected the RO system prior to Alice's last post. It has been disconnected for a few weeks, actually. And the hard water returned Weds. Tried to put water in the tub for my 12 month old grandson, and the water was orange. Sigh. Called Kinetico first thing in the am, spoke with the service manager. He told us to do a manual regeneration and time it-should take 90 minutes. After 6 hrs, it was still regenerating. Called the service manager back, he said they would schedule appt asap. Got a call a few minutes later, soonest they can come out is next weds. (a week away). So we are regenerating, trying to get both tanks cleared, draining the hot water tank, etc. I am so frustrated. Just venting, I guess. Very disappointed with customer service. DH will call service manager back today and see if we can get someone out here sooner-have manually regenerated several times, and the water is still iron-smelling and yellow. Can't do laundry. Will go to the gym to take showers. And we get to scrub orange toilets and showers yet gain. Not sure if there is a corporate avenue to follow-aren't these franchises privately owined? Sigh.


 o
RE: RO system with well water?

Sounds like your techs are out of their league and the service manager is not doing his job. Time to take it up the ladder and call customer service on the national level - you can find the number on the Kinetico website.

I guess the only good news right now is that they can no longer try the BS of blaming your RO for their failure to fix their softener.

Is the softener actually drawing brine during regeneration? You should be able to watch the brine tank to see if the water level is going down.

This post was edited by aliceinwonderland_id on Fri, Apr 19, 13 at 10:52


 o
RE: RO system with well water?

Spoke with service manager-he will be here himself Monday morning. He seems to think a "tube is clogged, and will replace it with larger diameter tube"...........so if this tube is "clogged", why would we be having an intermittant problem? I am assuming the system is drawing brine-we are going through a boatload of salt! I will check the water level in the brine tank the next regeneration.


 o
RE: RO system with well water?

Your Kinetico people questioning the low flow of the RO and that could be causing the problem are pointing out that if the flow through the RO is low enough it is not counted or "metered" by the control valve on the softener and the hardness removal capacity of the resin may be depleted prematurely and then you get hard water.

Could be a problem in the control valve or the drain line from the control valve to the drain could be partially blocked. If that flow is restricted then the brine is not sucked out of the brine tank during regeneration and you get hard water.

Since Kinetico uses the float assembly in the brine tank to set salt dose the water level there could be normal even with a drain line problem unless the float fails and then the brine tank would overflow.

There are two PE lines coming off the control valve. One goes to the brine tank and the other to drain. Check that the drain line runs clear to the drain and is not plugged up or pinched or restricted. That line should be connected to the drain with an air gap and not just stuffed into the drain.

Also check that the other line going to the brine tank ins't crimped or squished or collapsed or cracked and sucking air.


 o
RE: RO system with well water?

Thank you justalurker.....all lines are clear and unkinked to my eye. There is an air gap on the hose going into the drain. The service manager led me to believe there is something clogged in the "head" of the unit? Guess i don't understand why we have had an intermittant problem over the last 4 months if something is clogged. True, there are two tanks, but the system regenerates daily, so if there is a problem with just one tank, I would think the issues of hard water would be more persistant....the last two techs that have been here took apart the head of the unit and cleaned parts with q-tips and ?vaseline?. I would think if something was clogged in there, they would have seen it. Have not had any overflowing from the brine tank-is that next??? :)


 o
RE: RO system with well water?

Clogs are like intermittent problems in electronics... sometimes hard to diagnose.

If the problem is in the control head it can effect brining and the other stages of regeneration on either or both tanks.

You need the old guy (or gal) at the Kinetico shop who has worked on this stuff for a long time and not the younger techs who may not have the experience to diagnose the tough problems.

Perhaps the service manager is that old guy and will spot the problem. If he can't then propose he replace your control valve with a loaner (at no cost to you) and take your control valve to the shop to figure out the problem.


 o
RE: RO system with well water?

The service manager was to be here between 8 and 9 this morning. So finally at 11am, I called his cellphone. "Oh, I got tied up, I am on my way to your house now". Very nice, as I took 1/2 day vacation, and now must take the rest of the day off. (Actually had to switch shifts, so now I get to work midnight shift tonight in the ER). Anyway......he shows up at 12:45, states he will only be here for 30 min, and we will have soft water again. Ha. An hour and a half later, he declares something inside the head was partially clogged with sediment, and he replaced the clogged part, and after a few regenerations, we should be good to go. The jury is still out, as the second tank will need to be regenerated again this evening, and the hot water tank completely flushed, yet again. I asked him what the next step will be if this doesn't fix the problem-his answer, "there won't be a next step because I am confidant your problem is resolved". So. If it recurs, I will call corporate directly. Six days with hard, nasty water is enough. And 4 days of vacation that I have used waiting for their service techs over the last 4 months. Geesh. We have really "bad" water, so we will stick with Kinetico-had an "offbrand" when we first moved in that did nothing, and at least this system has done a good job for many years. Keeping my fingers, toes and eyes crossed! Thanks for all of the info!


 o
RE: RO system with well water?

Is your Kinetico one that requires or is recommended to have a sediment pre-filter?

If your problem is not resolved contact the owner of the dealership before going to corporate. Often the owner is the last to know there is a problem and has no chance to resolve it.


 o
RE: RO system with well water?

Yes, there is a pre filter for sediment that my DH changes every 6 wks. It is a 25 micron-he did some research and it looks as if the filters are available as 5 and 1 micron as well....perhaps we need to change filters?


 o
RE: RO system with well water?

If the problem IS that the control is clogged with sediment and you have a sediment filter that speaks volumes and the situation will not remedy itself.

You should discuss the following with the service manager...

Perhaps your sediment filter housing is too small and not providing sufficient flow. You may need a bigger housing and element or you may need to go to a full size sediment filter that looks like a softener.

Perhaps you need to change the filter more frequently. The filter should have been installed with a pressure gauge before and after so you could see the pressure drop and KNOW when to change the element instead of an arbitrary number of weeks or months.

Perhaps you need to go to a finer filter element but that costs you flow rate which can effect your softener's regeneration and will clog much sooner.


 o
RE: RO system with well water?

It occurs to me that we should have asked you the following at the beginning of this thread...

1. Did you buy the Kinetico new?

2. How long has the Kinetico been in service at your home?

3. Have you been doing routine (annual) water tests of your well water?

Living on a well is more complicated than living on a municipal water system. Well water conditions can change and those changes must be compensated for by the treatment hardware to maintain the water quality you paid for and expect.

If it turns out that the problem was sediment in the control valve then you'll likely be billed for the repair as that is a failure to do the required maintenance.

Could be that the sediment in your well increased along with what I previously posted...

Perhaps your sediment filter housing is too small and not providing sufficient flow. You may need a bigger housing and element or you may need to go to a full size sediment filter that looks like a softener.

Perhaps you need to change the filter more frequently. The filter should have been installed with a pressure gauge before and after so you could see the pressure drop and KNOW when to change the element instead of an arbitrary number of weeks or months.

Perhaps you need to go to a finer filter element but that costs you flow rate which can effect your softener's regeneration and will clog much sooner.


 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!


Return to the Plumbing Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.


Learn more about in-text links on this page here