We just moved from New England where we had a well that produced outstanding quality water; the only treatment was a sediment filter. The well in our new Ohio home is over 100' deep and the only treatment is a water softener which is about half-full of salt and appears to be functioning, though I'm not sure how well. I'm surprised that there's no sediment filter even though we've had no sediment coming out the tap.
The water right out of the well tests "very hard" (~425 ppm) using a colormetric test strip from Lowe's. The water out of the tap tests "soft" (close to 0 ppm) but leaves skin feeling slimy (which I know is a sign of hard water). Most of the time the water (hot and cold) has a hydrogen sulfide odor to it.
Before I attack the problem, I'd welcome your opinions and advice about using franchised water treatment companies (Kinetico, Rainsoft, etc.), local plumbers, or purchasing the equipment and assembling a system myself. What questions should I ask of the contractors? What issues do I need to be aware of? Do I need a more detailed water test? Can I rely on the treatment company's water test or should I get an independent one?
Thanks in advance!
The slippery feel (I prefer that term to slimy) you get with softened water is the feel of actually successfully rinsing away soap residue and precipitated solids (which hard water leaves on your skin and in your hair). You will quickly get used to the feeling and will stop thinking that you haven't rinsed off the soap!
It will make you appreciate soft water when you travel and have to try to rinse shampoo and soap off your body with hard water.
Ion exchange softeners will produce water with zero hardness, which causes the slippery feeling.
Most public water systems that soften the water will blend the softened water with the raw water to produce water with 80 to 120 mg/liter (same as parts per million).
You can blend your water if your softener is installed with an external bypass valve, as many are. By opening the valve a bit you will get blended water. You can adjust the bypass valve to bypass just enough hard water to make the slipperiness go away.
It is not the softener that is half full of salt. (Reference your post: ". . . water softener which is about half-full of salt . . ." )
Your softener system consists of two parts (even if you have a package unit that looks like one part).
The softener is a cylinder with a control mechanism on the top. That controls the regeneration and backwash process. The cylinder contains ion exchange resin in the form of fine beads.
The beads contain sodium ions which replace the calcium and magnesium ions in the hard water. The calcium and magnesium ions are absorbed in the resin. Calcium and magnesium cause hardness; sodium does not.
The control usually measures the flow of water and starts a regeneration process perhaps once a week while you are sleeping; more frequently if you use a lot of water. The regeneration process consists of passing salt brine through the resin bed so the calcium and magnesium ions are replaced with fresh sodium ions. The resin bed is washed to remove the brine before it is returned to service.
The second part of the system is a tank where you keep a good layer of salt. The control valve sucks brine from the salt tank to regenerate the resin and then adds more water to make more brine for the next cycle.
Thanks for the info. I stand corrected about the cause of the slippery feeling. Somewhere I had read (or thought I had read) that hard water creates the slippery feeling, not soft water. That's very interesting about blending the well water with the softened water; I'll have to look into that.
What's the best way to deal with the intermitent sulfur odor? Charcoal filter?
H2S has to be oxidized or absorbed to remove it. You can use air, chlorine, ozone, hydrogen peroxide or a number of various oxidizing minerals in a backwashed or regenerated filter. I don't like using carbon for H2S removal but it's an option.
If you are a DIYer, then I suggest a correctly sized softener with a Clack WS-1 control valve that is sized for your family size and the SFR flow rate your house requires. To learn more... correct sizing.
You need current hardness, iron and pH tests at least; it doesn't matter who does the tests (dealers don't have to lie to you when you contacted them with complaints about YOUR water)....
Click Here to learn how to correctly size or program a water softener.
CAUTION, as of Nov 12 2013 all YouTube videos showing how to rebuild a Clack valve have an error in them that can cause damage.
We just replaced a 22-year-old water softener with a $2,200 water conditioning and softening system with a large charcoal filter (to eliminate offensive odors and tastes, such as sulpher and chlorine)...a WaterCare Elan T system. This is a "whole house" system, except for our three outdoor spigots, which are plumbed separately.
We're on public water, which is very hard. It is chlorinated, but not softened by the county.
This has greatly improved our water and ice maker ice. The water is crystal clear, "fully" softened, and the water and ice now have no after taste. Everything tastes better, including our coffee, and soap foams much better, etc., etc. This system is so good, that we've even stopped buying bottled water.
AND it supposedly uses half the salt and half the water that our old system used. We'll see.
I would think that would only be true if your old system was working half what it should be. The technology has always been the same, so I don't know how they could make that claim Mike.AND it supposedly uses half the salt and half the water that our old system used. We'll see.
Most of the time the water (hot and cold) has a hydrogen sulfide odor to it.
Last edited by Terry; 07-10-2011 at 08:11 PM.