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Thread: Water hardness, city report vs home measurement

  1. #1
    DIY Member teve's Avatar
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    Post Water hardness, city report vs home measurement

    After water is processed by the city, how much can its hardness vary when reaching the home, or over a period of time, or from different wells?

    How reliable are those "count the drops" water hardness testing kits? I took a home water sample (the city says it's 18 hardness from blended wells) to a major home improvement store and was told is was 50. I was told hardness can change with seasons and city pipes can add hardness. I'm highly suspicious.

    A week later I brought the same water sample back and it measured 44. It was tested again with a second kit and was 32. One of the two kits had been used the week before and said 50. Sears told me 20 and a water softener dealer told me 19. I trust them much more.

    I had seen the test done enough times and did not see anything done out of the ordinary. I don't know why there would be such a big difference. Is it easy to make a mistake or was someone trying to scare me into buying a softener?
    Last edited by teve; 10-10-2011 at 06:48 PM. Reason: removed smiley

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    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    Hardness varies widely in a city water system. So use the maximum hardness in their entire system or when it goes up you won't know it until the softener is allowing hard water through it and you start looking for the cause and hopefully remember their hardness varies or you won't find anything wrong with the softener. Then you do two manual regens back to back with no water use during or between them at the max salt dose of 15 lbs/cuft of your volume of resin.
    Gary Slusser Retired (= out of business)
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    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.

  3. #3
    DIY Member teve's Avatar
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    I'm told by the city's head water guy that my city water is blended and should not vary much. I have my new softener set conservatively to a bit higher hardness and bit lower capacity for the salt dose I'm using so I should be OK. I have been told what city hall routinely reports (via a receptionist, just a single number, not a range) to callers and what softener dealers measure can be quite different. I'm curious how different and why, and why the testing kits can be so far off as in the case I encountered.

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    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    Until someone tells you 3 or less gpg of hardness, there is no question you need a softener.

    The "drop" type test is very accurate for gpg results as long as the directions are followed. If the drops are added too fast, you get a higher result but....

    Water companies usually use the same method, and buy the same test from the same company as many water treatment dealers do; Hack Co, Loveland, CO.

    Water companies are known to misstate the hardness in their water, they really don't like to talk about hardness, and tell most people hard water is not a problem until it is over about 150 ppm or mg/l, which BTW, no industry using hard water in a production process etc. will agree with. Nor will knowledgeable home or business owners with water heaters, dish and clothes washers, ice makers etc. etc..

    So it's not the test, it is the person doing the test incorrectly; which happens most frequently at big box stores.... Don't trust what water companies tell you as to how hard their water is, blended is fine but, they blend mostly to stay within EPA guidelines for pH and such, not hardness and when a well pump or water line breaks, well cleaning or rehabilitation is being done on one of their wells etc., they normally don't blend back to what hardness they had been sending their customers.
    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 Member teve's Avatar
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    How often should the softened water be tested to make sure the softener is working properly? I assume people can't tell right away if the hardness starts creeping up, I assume towards the end of a service cycle. Can you just regenerate more often? When is it time to replace the resin or softener?

    As for the test in the big box store, the tester was reading the directions and going quite slowly, shaking the bottle after every drop, and seemed to be quite honest about the test. But I questioned the seasonal hardness change comment (more than double?). I don't know why there was such a large discrepancy in the test results.

    After that experience I might recommend people get three independent tests and make sure they are all within a grain or two and in line with what the city says.

  6. #6
    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    If you start getting hard water through the softener you normally feel it in the shower. If you size and program correctly, you can't get hard water before the next regeneration unless you use a lot more water than usual and that's is only possible with a control valve witout calendar override; or not using it.

    The water tests don't lie, if done correctly they are very accurate. City water hardness can change in just a few hours, or rarely.
    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 Member teve's Avatar
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    I don't see how no calender override allows hard water to get through. If an otherwise properly working metered system is programmed correctly how can hard water to get through when calender override is turned off? Example?

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    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by teve View Post
    I don't see how no calender override allows hard water to get through. If an otherwise properly working metered system is programmed correctly how can hard water to get through when calender override is turned off? Example?
    I'll say it again; If you size and program correctly, you can't get hard water before the next regeneration unless you use a lot more water than usual

    and that is only possible with a control valve without calendar override; or not using it.

    That is a function of the resin and the salt dose used which sets the K of capacity. Exceed the regenerated capacity and you start getting hardness through the resin. Then the more you run water the more hardness gets through. Then you must do 2 manual regenerations at the max of 15lbs/cuft of resin back to back with no water use during or between them to get the resin fully regenerated again.
    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.

  9. #9
    DIY Senior Member mialynette2003's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Slusser View Post
    I'll say it again; If you size and program correctly, you can't get hard water before the next regeneration unless you use a lot more water than usual

    and that is only possible with a control valve without calendar override; or not using it.

    That is a function of the resin and the salt dose used which sets the K of capacity. Exceed the regenerated capacity and you start getting hardness through the resin. Then the more you run water the more hardness gets through. Then you must do 2 manual regenerations at the max of 15lbs/cuft of resin back to back with no water use during or between them to get the resin fully regenerated again.
    IMO this would only happen with a timered system. Or, lets say your had an electronic system and set it to a 1 day reserve and you used up the reserve, then you would get hardness. But what are the chances of that happening?

  10. #10
    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    Any household can use much more water than is normal for the household. Like a holiday or any other time over night guests show up. Or when a kid goes off to camp and comes home with 2 week's laundry and 'extra' loads of it is done one load after the other until it is finished.

    Or the guy hooks up his new pressure washer and spends 3 or 4-5 hours power washing everything the hose will reach, plus half his driveway maybe, all with soft water. Calendar override stops most of that being a problem. And you get an increasing amount of hardness until there is no capacity left in the resin.
    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
    DIY Member teve's Avatar
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    I would think using a more water over the course of a week or day would have the water meter schedule a sooner regeneration a rather than later regeneration. I still don't see how the calender override comes into play and causes a regeneration unless metered water usage is very low.
    Last edited by teve; 10-13-2011 at 06:52 PM.

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