Those orange flakes may be from the system sitting for awile. Try running water for an hour or two and see if it clears up.
I'm moving into a brand new house with a new well and it looks like I'll need to invest in a softener and some filters. I've done a bit of research but I'm not sure if I'm on the right path. First, here are the results of the water test:
Arsenic (As) = 0.0014 mg/L
Barium (Ba) = 0.0667 mg/L
Boron (B) = 0.042 mg/L
Calcium (Ca) = 53.2 mg/L
Copper (Cu) = 0.0028 mg/L
Iron (Fe) < 0.10 mg/L
Magnesium (Mg) = 31.6 mg/L
Manganese (Mn) = 0.0198 mg/L
Potassium (K) = 2.83 mg/L
Sodium (Na) = 10.6 mg/L
Uranium (U) = 0.00110 mg/L
Zinc (Zn) < 0.020 mg/L
Total dissolved solids = 291 mg/L
Sulphate (SO4) - Soluble = 15.4 mg/L
Nitrate+Nitrite-N - Soluble < 0.050 mg/L
Hardness (as CaCO3) = 263 mg/L
Conductivity = 448 umhos/cm
Chloride (Cl) - Soluble < 9.0 mg/L
Fluoride (F) - Soluble = pending
Bacteria = 0.0
Since the water is moderately hard, I will need a softener. But the biggest problem that doesn't show up in the test results is the abundance of small orange specs or flakes that are present in the water. There's always a few of them at the bottom of every glass of water and the bottom of my new toilet tank is completely orange after only 5 or 10 flushes. I don't know if these flakes are sediment or if they're ferric iron or something else. There's almost no ferrous iron so it seems odd that there would be so much ferric unless the Fluoride is high. In case it matters, the well is 197 feet deep with a 3/4HP variable speed 15 GPM pump installed at 60 feet. This is also a flowing well so the water kept squirting out all by itself after it was drilled. Once it got capped, the pressure hovered at around 8-10 psi before the pump was installed. I haven't yet done a flow test but I imagine it could supply more than the 15 GPM.
So going through the softener sizing calculations, 263/17.1= 15.4 grains per gallon. Compensating for Iron and Manganese I get 15.8 grains. Right now we have two adults and two kids and our total combined usage is around 130 gallons per day (averaged over 3 years). We are switching to more efficient appliances but the kids are getting older so maybe I'll round up to 150 gallons per day. That's 2373 grains per day. Targeting 8 days between regnerations I get a capacity of 18984 grains. Based on this I could get away with a 1.0 cuft softener but the 9 gpm flow rate seems a bit low. A 1.5 cuft should give me 12 gpm which is probably closer to what the pump can give. I suppose I can always put in a flow restrictor or lower the pump pressure if required. Aquatell has a 45000 grain unit for $689 with free shipping to any province which looks rather tempting.
Now the question is how to get rid of those darn orange flakes before they destroy the softener and before everything becomes orange including my clothes, my dishes, and my hair? I was thinking about starting with a flushable sediment filter, something like a Rusco Sediment Trapper with a 30 micron or 15 micron mesh. Then follow this by a standard 20" X 4.5" polyproylene 5 micron filter. My biggest fear is that too many flakes will go through the mesh and I'll have to replace the polypropylene once a week. I've also looked at a few large tank-based sediment filters but these are in the $500 range and I'm scared of it getting destroyed by the flakes after a month.
Any thoughts or ideas?
Those orange flakes may be from the system sitting for awile. Try running water for an hour or two and see if it clears up.
Perception is 3/4 of reality
To size the softener's constant SFR you need to know the max peak demand gpm that will be run through the softener when your household uses the most water. Twelve gpm SFR is good for a 2.5 bath house with no large tub or shower.
A softener wit h a good control valve isn't going to be bothered by the orange stuff and once collected it will be backwashed out the drain line. Prefilters like you are thinking of can harm a softener by starving them for backwash flow. So save your money, no prefilters.
I did a quick flow test yesterday. Using one outside faucet I got 6.2 L in 15 seconds, (6.6 GPM) and using two faucets at the same time I got 9.8 L in 15 seconds (10.3 GPM). I would have needed a third bucket and a third person to do three faucets at once. I do have the user manual for the well pump (Grundfos SQE) but without knowing the exact model number I have no idea which pump curve to look at. The house does have 2.5 baths so I believe a 1.5 cuft softener should be good enough. I got the one with the Clack WS1 valve instead of the Autotrol since it seems to offer finer control over the salt usage.
As for the sediment filters restricting the flow to the softener, I did check the specs to make sure that the filter's service rate was higher than the softener's backwash rate. Now I do understand that these numbers only apply when the filter media is brand new and once it gets clogged the flow rate will go down. I've decided to skip the 5 micron filter, and just go with the Rusco 15 micron spin-down mesh filter. This one has the transparent housing and the ball valve at the bottom for flushing out the sediment. Since I need to go down there on a daily basis anyway, I'll just open the valve to clean it out as required. Rusco even makes a valve/timer that does this automatically. Apparently 3.5 seconds is all it takes.
My fear is that if 10 toilet flushes (16 gallons) can deposit so many of those darn flakes inside the toilet tank, what will one week's worth of usage (1050 gallons) deposit inside the softener?
I have yet to follow Wally's suggestion of letting the water run for an hour, but the good news is that there seemed to be a lot fewer flakes today; running the water through a coffee filter for one minute didn't produce any visible orange stains. Hopefully they won't come back (fingers crossed).
The other good news is that the Fluoride test came back at 0.34 which is even less than city water. I got really lucky here since a few of our neighbors are significantly over 1.50 mg/L.
So I've had the sediment filter and softener installed for a few weeks now and everything seems to be working correctly, but I still have a few questions:
1. The softener that I got based our flow rate is a 1.6 cuft (50000 grain capacity). Our hardness is 16 gpg and since it is summer we're only using around 100 gallons per day. This will obviously go up in winter with more clothes and more dishes to wash. Right now I don't think it's wise to let the softener go a month between regenerations, so I have the override set to 14 days. Is this too much or too little? Our iron level is below 0.1 mg/L so does it really hurt the resin to let it sit that long?
2. I bought the softener online but got a local plumber to install it. The plumber said that the valve I have isn't a real Clack but a Chinese knockoff. How can I tell the difference?
3. The sediment filter that I initially put in was a 1000-mesh (15 micron) Rusco spin-down type with the transparent housing. The whole thing turned orange within hours of installation so it looks like there are still some microscopic orange flakes left that are getting caught in the filter. The good news is that ever since the sediment filter is in, the toilets have remained nice and clean for over a week. Before that they would turn orange after two or three days. Opening the ball valve on the filter does flush out SOME of the orange buildup, but it doesn't get rid of it completely. I don't really notice any decreased flow rates in the sinks or showers but the tub might be taking a bit longer to fill. About a week ago I swapped the 1000-mesh for a 100-mesh and this one hasn't caught anything. I can't see any hint of orange on it. I guess all the orange flakes are going into the softener now. So the question is, should I leave the 100 or replace the 1000? On one hand I'm worried that the decreased flow rate with the 1000 will be too low for a proper backwash on the softener but on the other hand I'm worried that the 100 won't catch any flakes and these will damage the softener. Any ideas?
4. It's very hot and humid outside, and the well water that comes from 197 feet below the earth is very cold. The softener is in the basement and it's sweating a LOT! There's a big puddle of water on the concrete underneath it. What is the best solution here? A pan with a drain hose? Some kind of blanket insulation? The pressure tank and pipes have the same condensation problem as well.
Well it looks like I answered one of my own questions; six months after the fact.
Last week I started seeing the same white powdery buildup at the bottom of the dishwasher that I saw before the softener was installed. It looks like the softener isn't working anymore. I believe it's still regenerating properly (although I haven't gotten out of bed at 3AM to watch it go through all the cycles) since the salt level is still going down. Based on the very orange color of the sediment filter and of the PEX pipe going into the softener I would assume that the resin is fouled with rust (ferric iron) and not doing its job anymore.
My first reaction is to put back the 15 micron sediment filter to catch more rust flakes and then install another 1 micron filter after that to catch the remaining rust flakes before they enter the softener. Then I can buy a bottle of Super Iron Out and follow the instructions to clean the resin. Is there any chance of actually getting the resin cleaned off properly or should I be thinking about replacing it? It's only six months old so it it would be a shame to throw it all out if it can be saved somehow.
You have pex in and out of the softener, the in is colored but what about the out pex? is it colored up?
Are the glasses in the dishwasher etching? like a water spot that will not come off?
The PEX going into the softener is very orange, the one coming out is perfectly clear. Six months ago, both the incoming and outgoing PEX pipes were very clear.
I haven't seen any etching on the glasses yet, but before we installed the softener there would always be white residue at the bottom of the dishwasher. After the softener installation, all the white residue was gone. Now the residue is starting to come back again although not nearly as much as before the softener.
As for the white stuff, if the glass is not etching then I am not sure, is it possible that the dishwasher is using water while the softener is in regen?
White stuff isn't any type of iron. It can be a number of things that softeners do not remove or cause. You'd have to have it analyzed to know what it is. I'd wipe it out and forget it.
Running a little Iron Out through the softener once every two months is a good idea but don't do it by sprinkling it in the salt, mix it in a gallon or 2 of water and pour it into the water in the salt tank and do a manual regeneration.
Although you don't have etching, etching is caused by too much detergent in soft water, to prevent it you reduce the amount of detergent.
My fear is that the orange stuff (rust / ferric iron) has fouled up the resin so badly that it can no longer remove the hardness which creates the white powder. Also, the water doesn't feel as "slippery" as it did when the softener was working. Even though the PEX coming out of the softener isn't orange yet, the toilet tanks have certainly started turning orange again.
I did two doses of Super Iron Out this weekend, following the label directions (1 cup mixed with 8 cups of water into the brine well and manual regenerate) but I don't think this had any effect except for a bit of a funny smell in the shower the next morning. I ordered a hardness test kit, the kind with the purple paper strips, and when it arrives I'll check both the incoming and outgoing water to get an accurate reading. Sadly I don't think I can save this resin. The best price I've found so far for new resin is around $100 per cubic foot so that would be around $150 to get it all replaced. After that, with the two sediment filters and maybe regenerating every 4 days instead of 8 days and with a longer backwash the new resin will last longer than six months.
I am still working on getting the mind around the iron, your test shows iron at .1ppm? so where is the staining coming from?
If the untreated water has less than .3ppm there should not be any iron staining going on..
If there is iron staining then there must be iron from some other item.
At first I was confused about that as well, but I believe that the lab only tests for ferrous iron (the invisible kind that you can taste) and not ferric iron (the orange flakes that are visible but tasteless). So my water has very little ferrous iron, but LOTS of ferric iron. Apparently it's the ferric iron that sticks to the resin beads and eventually destroys them.
It would then be good to have a total iron count...
What do you have the comp hardness setting at?
Ferric iron particles don't stick to resin, they usually are trapped on top of the resin and backwashed out to drain. And IO rids the resin of rust (ferric iron). I'm thinking you may not have the control valve programmed for enough backwash etc.. So what are your settings on the control?