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Thread: Will a water softener solve our problem?

  1. #1

    Default Will a water softener solve our problem?

    We have been told by three different appliance repair guys that hard water is damaging our hot water heater and dishwasher, both of which are 4 years old. We have had to replace the heating element on both, and we now have to replace the upper spray arm on the dishwasher (we may just buy a new dishwasher).

    We've decided that we definitely need a water softener before we have to make more repairs and before our washing machine is the next victim. But I've asked a few of my neighbors if they've had the same issues, and they have not. We all have the same water - city water drawn from wells as well as the Delaware River. So why would they not have the same problems as us? Is it possible that the hard water isn't the problem after all?

    (Our water company's annual water report indicates that our water hardness is in the range of 3.6-14.3 gpg. I used a test that I got from Lowes and got basically the same result.)

    Thanks in advance for any advice...

  2. #2

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    I would say that at least one of my neighbors does use at least as much as we do, but certainly we have different appliances.

    I guess I'm just wondering if something else could be mimicking the "symptoms" of hard water.

  3. #3
    Radon Contractor and Water Treatment 99k's Avatar
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    I suggest you order a full chemical test from a local lab. The water company may be giving a huge range depending on the source of water and what side of town you live on. You need an accurate hardness number anyway to properly set-up the system so it is money well spent.

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    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by missuswayne View Post
    I would say that at least one of my neighbors does use at least as much as we do, but certainly we have different appliances.

    I guess I'm just wondering if something else could be mimicking the "symptoms" of hard water.
    Since no neighbors have the problems, I think your appliance guy is wrong and it isn't the water actually causing the problems but, a softener will extend teh life of all water using appliances, water heaters, all fabrics laundered in hard water etc. etc..

    Maybe all or some of the neighbors have a water softener.

    To size and set up a softener you must use the highest hardness in the city water system or when they send your house harder water your softener removes the additional hardness but it is not set up to regenerate the additional capacity that was used. Then you get hard water through the softener. And eventually you have to do two regenerations at the max salt dose for the volume of resin in the tank or the you consistently get hard water through the softener.

    I suggest a correctly sized softener for your family size, number of bathrooms and the type of fittings in them and the max hardness in your water system. I suggest a Clack WS-1 control valve.
    Gary Slusser Retired (= out of business)
    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.

  5. #5
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default elements

    The OEM elements on most water heaters are a very inexpensive "high watt density" model, and they can go bad in a matter of weeks, regardless of the type of water you have. So replacing one after 4 years is not necessarily an indication of premature failure. Therefore, I also am not sure whether the diagnosis is correct. This area has water a lot harder than yours and water softeners are not a very common item in houses, but they do not have your problems.

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    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    Missuswayne, since you say; "We all have the same water - city water" you don't need to spend money getting someone to test your city water because the water company tests their water frequently to be in compliance with state and federal laws and regulations. And they test for hardness although they do not have to for any regulations, they need to know the hardness.

    Yet if you wanted to test your water, you can do it yourself or have anyone of your choice do a hardness test, including the local pool, plumbing or pump supply houses, SEARS etc. but, if the test result is less than the maximum hardness in the city water system, your softener will not work correctly for long.

    So you may want to ask anyone telling you to get the water tested why they want you to, and what other than hardness they suggest you have to know to be able to buy, set up and use a water softener on your city water.
    Gary Slusser Retired (= out of business)
    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.

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    DIY Senior Member TedL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sammyhydro11 View Post
    Don't play the guessing game and get a potability water analysis form a certified lab.

    sammy

    www.tylerwellandpump.com
    Also, talk to the water dept. to get an explanation of the variability. If it's like my town water, it's seasonal variation, as they buy water from an adjacent municipality during the summer peak. Thus, we have the high gpg some times of the year, and the low at other times, and a middle number at others. I still had to size for the highest to ensure proper performance.

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    Radon Contractor and Water Treatment 99k's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sammyhydro11 View Post
    One of the most important and basic things that i have learned through the years installing water treatment and studying for my WQA Certified Water Treatment Specialist Exam, is the importance of getting a good water analysis from a certified lab. Your test results for 3.6-14.3 gpg does not tell you exactly how much hardness you have, but only tells you what you could have. Seeing that you are on city water, it is also very important that you test for chlorine to determine if Carbon pretreatment is needed. Any level of chlorine that is present in the water can ruin the ion exchange resin in your water softener.

    Don't play the guessing game and get a potability water analysis form a certified lab.

    sammy

    www.tylerwellandpump.com
    Dido Sammy ... I totally agree with you.
    Setting up the softener for the worst case reading reported by the water company could very well cost you plenty of money due to excessive salt and water usage caused by unnessary regeneration cycles ... there is no way to properly set this equipment up if you do not have an accurate report (such as from a reputable lab). Don't settle for anything less.

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    Radon Contractor and Water Treatment 99k's Avatar
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    Yes, if the water source is being blended or alternated that presents a challenge. Chances are the hardness is going to depend most on where the customer is in the "grid". IMO, the easiest thing for the water company to do was give the range.

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    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    Yes they give a range because that is the varying hardness their customers may see at their house at any given time. The water company won't only be blending their various sources of water, some blend their waters with water purchased from other areas/companies.

    So you guys that tell people on city water to test their water and use that gpg are going to have people ending up with leakage and softeners that aren't working well at all.

    I'd like to hear how you guys are going to prevent that other than having the person have a Certified lab do daily hardness tests and the person repeatedly adjusting their softener accordingly. Like a customer would do that!
    Gary Slusser Retired (= out of business)
    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.

  11. #11
    Radon Contractor and Water Treatment 99k's Avatar
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    Gary:
    To suggest a customer purchase and set-up a water softener with an 11 gpg range is unwise ... more investigation is warranted. A test sample from their home needs to be performed and then a follow-up call with the water company should take place to discuss the findings and why they have spec'd such a huge range. I never suggested a customer continually test their water. You are speculating on the poster's water company without having any facts ... they may not purchase or even blend water.

  12. #12
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sammyhydro11 View Post
    Who the heck said anything about daily hardness tests other than you Gary??? Once again Gary is on the defense.. In this situation, and unless they can determine the exact amount of hardness, i guess they would have to size for the worst case scenario and waste a lot of money on salt.
    If you read what he wrote, he said nobody would test daily. He also said the person needed a test before setting things up. He also said that if it truely does change that much over time, in order to ensure you have soft water, you'd need to enable it to soften the hardest water. The alternative would be occasional hard water.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  13. #13
    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    Sammy and 99K, you sound as if you've never seen a city water system Water Quality Report or read anything on a water company's web site where they list hardness.

    I have every city water prospective customer do it and like yesterday, two of them did it. One also had called his water company prior to calling me and was told by some guy the receptionist put him through to 7 gpg. Their report on their web site said 15 gpg and he then told me he had Culligan out a few days before and was told 15 gpg but he didn't believe the test they did (dropper bottle and color changed). I used 15 and his softener will be delivered in MI tomorrow. I also sold the second one.

    About 99% of the reports/web sites list hardness or total hardness and 99% of those list the low, average and highest figures. Look it up or keep arguing, your choice.

    Then if you still can't accept facts, you call a water company and ask why they list low, average and highest figures.

    I can tell you what they have told me and my prospective customers, it's because they have numerous water sources with varying hardness etc. content and they mix and match waters. Example, Rochester MN has 36 water sources from wells and surface waters. One yesterday had it on their report that they also most every summer buy water from another company some miles away and listed its hardness.

    Now your advice to city water people is to get a full water analysis of their city water!!! What all should they test for other than hardness?

    Then you say to size and program the softener for that amount of hardness. Now tell us what happens to their softener when they receive harder water.

    And then tell us what you would suggest they do to identify and then fix the problem.

    Otherwise it looks like you are not helping people here, you are simply and illogically disagreeing with me for the sake of disagreeing.
    Gary Slusser Retired (= out of business)
    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.

  14. #14
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    A test should be done, no question. There are other things relevant to help determine what and how to condition the water to your tastes. It behooves anyone trying to improve their water quality to have an accurate starting point.

    But, if the water supplier says it can vary (maybe radically), if, when you have it tested, it happens to be fairly soft and you set up the softener for that, what happens when it gets harder.

    Where I live, the water quality from the city can vary quite a bit over the year. It might come from spring fed ponds, or from the river, or be a mix of both. So a single test could be way off from another time of the year. The supplier must test if they serve more than a few customers by law, and if their results show a variation, it is best to believe it and account for it, not just one day's sample you may have done yourself.

    Gary said:
    "So you guys that tell people on city water to test their water and use that gpg are going to have people ending up with leakage and softeners that aren't working well at all.

    I'd like to hear how you guys are going to prevent that other than having the person have a Certified lab do daily hardness tests and the person repeatedly adjusting their softener accordingly. Like a customer would do that! "

    This stuff isn't rocket science (but I do happen to work in that field and help build them - soon to retire). If a system has a consistent single supply, and you set it up based on that, you should be okay. If the supplier tells you it will change, and you happen to test and set it up for when it is fairly soft, and the hardness changes significantly, you will get hard water through the system.

    I stand by my comment...you need to improve your reading comprehension skills. I didn't ask to be a moderator, and Terry can remove that priviledge any time. I rarely delete a thread, and have to justify any. If you don't like what I do, take it up with Terry. I'm just pointing out an error in your post that has nothing to do with how to condition water...you implied things that were not said.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  15. #15
    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sammyhydro11 View Post
    (name calling and derogatory stuff deleted) I came to the conclusion based on my own observance of the situation that the guy should base the size of the softener on the high hardness side. ... i still think he should get a potability test.
    I can't find where you said "size based on high hardness". I did find just the opposite though; "Gary: To suggest a customer purchase and set-up a water softener with an 11 gpg range is unwise ... ". That is a bit different than you are now claiming to have said.

    Quote Originally Posted by sammyhydro11 View Post
    What else should they test for other than hardness??? Maybe chlorine Gary???
    So a city water customer that smells chlorine in his water should pay a lab to test for it... really? To filter chlorine I don't need to know how much is in the water. What am I missing, or, why do you have to know?
    Gary Slusser Retired (= out of business)
    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.

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