View Full Version : Water softener produces rusty water
11-17-2009, 08:49 AM
We just moved into our house about 6 months ago, and I just started using my water softener. I think that the softener was in bypass mode for awhile before we even moved in. My problem is that when my water softener is running, I get this rusty colored water in the toilets, sinks, bathtub. When I bypass the softener, I don't get any discoloration.
I tried the pro rust out into the brine tank to remove a build up of iron several times, but that didn't work. The weird thing is that after you run the water for a minute or two, it clears up. The water is soft it is just the color that is a problem. Does the resin need to be replaced? I have an ecowater systems water refiner.
11-17-2009, 07:30 PM
You might have water leak using water while in a regeneration or, some galvanized pipe or a nipple rusting. If the resin was bad you wouldn't have soft water.
Did you mix the Rust Out in water and pour it into the water in the salt tank and do a manual regeneration or sprinkle it in the salt? If in the salt, has it all been used yet?
11-17-2009, 07:40 PM
Thanks for the reply Gary. The pipes that connect to the water softener are copper, and all the components on the water softener seem to be plastic. I've taken the thing apart and can't find any metal that would be rusting.
I did dilute the rust out in water then pour it into the brine tank followed by a manual regeneration. I actually did that for 3 days straight thinking that the resin was really foul, but no progress. Its really weird how it shows up. I'll wake up in the morning after a regeneration, and the water is a rusty color. I'll let the water run until clear, then come home from work, and more of the same. I just don't know where to look anymore. Its got to be a pipe at that point right? I mean what else?
11-17-2009, 07:54 PM
No, the galvanized would be in your plumbing somewhere but, your water quality may have changed and you have a lot of sediment (rust) or higher iron but, it sounds like something in the plumbing is rusting over time because it clears and then after hours of no use you get rusty water.
When you come home, do you have rusty water as soon as you open a faucet or does it have to run a gallon or more? If immediately then something is rusting unless the softener is real close to the faucet.
11-18-2009, 05:03 AM
When I get home, I would say that it is rusty colored right away. Wouldn't you think though that if something was rusting in the plumbing that the water would be rusty even in bypass mode? That is why I am confused.
11-18-2009, 08:01 AM
In by pass water hardness lays down a 'protective' coating of microscopic scale inside pipes, so no rusting after awhile but... softened water then dissolves the coating and exposes ferrous metal and rusts it.
Also, you say the water is rusty, you run some and the rust clears and stays clear until you shut off the water for some time and when you run it hours later it is rusty. So why did the clear water laying in the pipes for a few hours go rusty if as you assume, it is rusty water coming out of the softener? Galvanized pipe and nipples all rust at some time.
And, I don't know of any way clear water from a softener goes rusty after the clear water sits in a softener for some time unless the resin isn't removing all the ferrous iron and there is sufficient iron in the softened water to convert to ferric iron (rust) in the water in water line. A simple iron test on the softened water would show that. It's easier to rule out rusting galvanized first though.
11-18-2009, 08:49 AM
You have a point, but would a plumber combine copper and galvanized piping when building a home? The exposed piping to the water heater and the water softener is copper piping. What would be the best way to rule out rusted galvanized piping if I do in fact have it.
11-18-2009, 10:18 AM
Galvanized should be outlawed IMO but yes, it is used some, like a nipple for the shower etc. or at a well pump's pressure tank or for drop pipe in a well.
And your handle says you might have acidic water and acid eats galvanized causing rust.
Get an iron test of the softened water and see how much iron is in the water, that will tell you if the softener is causing it.
11-21-2009, 06:49 PM
You didn't state if you have a well, city water or any clear water iron present in the water. With water from the bypass mode, put some in a clear glass or jar, add a table spoon or soof bleach and let it sit for a few hours. Clorine will oxidize iron in the water and it should turn rusty color.
Clear water iron and any red iron contaminate the resin in a water softener. The iron atoms cling to the resin and it slowly prevents an ion exchange for soft water (ion calicium/mag to ion sodium). If you get plain salt for the softener it will not remove the iron. If you start using the pellet type with "system saver" or bags that read "iron out' these removes the iron. If the contamination is small, most or all of the iron is removed in the regen cycle, but if the iron stored is very heavy a lot of it will not be removed in the regen then it gets flushed out through the taps. The next regen and some more iron get flushed out and it starts all over.
The best is to buy "IRON OUT" and follow the instructions. The best way I found as I had to do this with my softener is completely drain and clean the salt tank of salt, water and dirt. Fill it up with some water and add the IRON OUT dissolved in a pail of water. Then let it run through a regen cycle. After the cycle go to a bath tub and run the cold water for maybe ten minutes. If the water comes out rusty then clean this shows that the softener is max out with iron. It may need a second regen of IRON OUT to really clean it.
If you still have the problem then the softener is toast. The resin does not last forever and it is possible to open the softener, dump out the old and put in new resin if resin can still be bough in bulk. It probably will be eaiser to just replace the unit. It might be best to get a real softener guy to the house and pay him to do it right. He'll have test kits to test the water for hardness and iron and are usually familar with water problems in your area. Sometimes, ask a neighbor if they ever had problems.
04-21-2010, 12:20 PM
Well thanks for all of your inputs. In the end though, the problem was the resin itself. I cleaned out the resin bed, and replaced it with fresh resin. After I put it all back together, no yellow/orange water. The softener works just fine now. Thanks again for all of your help.
ON TO THE NEXT PROBLEM!!!
04-21-2010, 12:48 PM
Where there small balls of like iron and resin together when you emptied out the media tank?
I have seen that when a softener ran for 18 months on 8ppm and NO Salt..... no matter the times of iron out and soaking would clean it up, that resin was replaced with a new and no problems..