View Full Version : What to do with hard, hard water?
02-27-2009, 11:23 AM
Drilled a new well when we built a home in rural Indiana. Karst country. The driller went through three caves to hit the aquifer, and the well is almost 400 feet deep. We haven't used it much ... several hundred gallons, probably, since we just pumped it into a temporary 250 gallon tank. But now we are ready to move into the house and trying to figure out water softener, heater, etc. The house is plumbed mostly with PEX, and copper going to the kitchen. The water has some slight coliform (not e.coli) bacteria, so we'll install a UV disinfector.
My question is, is our water really this hard (tested last year at about 100 grains)? Is it because of the drilling, and will the hardness go down over time? What kind of monster water softener is it going to take to get this water usable? And is that going to make the water so salty that we can't drink it? We talked to one softener guy, and he suggested getting a water dispenser for drinking. My partner wants to run four kinds of water through the house: cold unsoftened water for the icemaker, toilets, and for drinking, cold soft water for cooking, hot soft water to the kitchen, hot unsoft water to the bathrooms .. this just seems too complex.
02-27-2009, 06:03 PM
Limestone is dissolved by water, hence the caves, and that adds hardness to the water. My record hardness is 136 gpg. With 100 gpm recovery rate, some of that water probably hasn't been underground for very long, meaning surface water infiltration in the groundwater your well is drilled into. And I suspect that the water table in your yard is rather close to the surface. Coliform bacteria lives in and on the ground and in the intestines of humans and animals and finding it in your water it is not good.
You can't use a UV light with hard water. So you need a softener that can remove the hardness. You need another test for hardness and then iron, pH, TDS, nitrates, nitrites at least and sulfates, chlorides and sodium would be really good.
Post the results when you get the test done. In the mean time you can learn how to correctly size a softener by visiting the sizing page on my web site. I suggest a softener using the Clack WS-1 control valve.
02-28-2009, 05:12 AM
Our home is on top of a bluff above the Blue River in Indiana. So the well is drilled down lower than the level of the Blue by, I forget, 50 - 100 feet. Maybe the source of the bacterial contamination is coming from the many cows that are pastured along the Blue? We have a cultivated field next to the well that only grows soybeans or corn, no animals. Also there is a campground just upstream from us a couple miles, and it's not very clean - lots of people who camp all winter without power or water supply - and we believe those campers empty their poop buckets into the river. Have had a couple five-gallon pails full of sewage wash up on our riverbanks before.
The next door neighbor also had the same bacteria, but they also had the same well driller, many years before. I'll get the water tested again after it runs awhile.
The reason we wanted to separate soft/hard water was really to spare dumping all the flushed salt into the septic system. If the water is really that hard, then won't the softener have to regenerate often and then where does all that salt go? Seems it would kill of the bacteria in the septic tank. Also, for the same reason we didn't want to put in a RO water purification unit - don't those generate a lot of waste water per pure water output, and then wouldn't all that water have to go in the septic system?
Sorry for all the questions - this is all new to me, and it's wonderful to be able to consult with experts instead of poking around with Google. I sure do appreciate the thoughtful and helpful responses. If anybody has any questions about book and document conservation or computer maintenance, would be happy to return the knowledge favor!
02-28-2009, 02:51 PM
Yes maybe the bacteria is coming form one or more of those possible sources, yet even if you knew which one, how would you stop it and then prevent the contaminated groundwater that recovers your well from bringing in more bacteria for how long until the groundwater along a river is bacteria free?
The driller is not responsible for the quality of water he gets from a well. Groundwater has all types of bacteria in it, only some types are harmful and others are required in our gut or we die.
Oceans are full of water containing much more salt than the discharge from a softener as it diluted in a septic system, right? And the water in the oceans is also full of bacteria, right? And as you use the toilet you add billions more bacteria each time.
The extra water oing into a septic system is not a problem any more tha nan extra shower or load of laundry, or another family member.
Most bacteria live for only seconds to a couple minutes but the numbers that are dividing in half to multiply is tremendous. UV lights disrupt the DNA so they can not reproduce.
If you don't soften this water you get to live with 100 gpg of hardness and bacteria. You really have no choice other than to treat the water.
An RO is needed and it will have to have a booster pump because of the high TDS of the treated water. The RO will use more water than it produces but the production water will be quite high quality and much less expensive than buying bottled water for all your drinking and cooking water.
03-01-2009, 12:00 PM
Sure do appreciate all the advice. We'll split off the outside water, then put in the water softener, then the sanitizer, then the water heater. RO doesn't sound like it wastes as much water as I feared. It's just the two of us and a thousand gallon septic tank, so we will be OK.
Yeah, I didn't mean to blame the driller for the bacteria. There are tons of sinkholes full of old trash and other possible sources for it. That's an interesting point, that the sanitizer just keeps the bacteria from reproducing - I reckon that's OK, too. If they can't reproduce they can't cause much of a problem.
08-13-2012, 01:36 PM
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i hope this helps.