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Thread: Need help in choosing & sizing water treatment equipment.

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member Platin465's Avatar
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    Default Need help in choosing & sizing water treatment equipment.

    Hi! I've been reading forums for 3+ months and trying to decide what to buy. I've gotten various quotes and just don't know if I'm being sold what I need, especially due to all the conflicting info the local salesmen have given me.

    My well water test results:

    Hardness: 17-20
    pH: 7
    Iron: 4-5
    TDS: 605
    Nitrates: 0

    Other info:
    High tannins, slime in toilet tanks. Things get rust-like stains. Low to no sulfur smell sometimes. Sometimes other smells such as rusty, fishy, garbage. I did a test to see the output of the well, and I get between 2.5 and 3 gallons of water filled between the pump turning on and it turning off again. The pump runs for 5 seconds. I read that was how to determine flow rate, but it doesn't really make complete sense to me. Now, this could all be moot due to my pressure tank being bad, so if I need a properly working pressure tank to figure out flow rate, please let me know.

    My primary concern is the iron/rust problem as, but I do want a properly sized softener to get the hardness down to something under 5 I guess.

    There are only two with possibility of children. We do 5 loads of laundry and three dishwasher runs per week.

    Old equipment is on it's last leg. Iron filter is bypassed- Autotrol 255 with 9x44 greensand for iron. Smaller softener with Autotrol 255. I just downloaded the manual for the Autotrol and will look into adjusting the softener's settings. System is softening well enough on a 4-day cycle after I cleaned up the valve, but still getting Iron stains. Water is less smelly now.

    Please help me determine what I need. Just softener? Softener & Iron (please tell me I can use something other than potperm effectively)? More equipment? Would it be worth rebedding the stuff I have now, perhaps replacing the valves?

    Info from salespeople:

    Online: $2,600 for softener, iron, chrorine injector, new pressure tank (mine is not holding pressure, Wellmate brand)
    Local: $1,700 to $2,100 for a softener (I think 1.5 cubic foot) with resup + $200 for new pressure tank. Or $3,400 for softener, iron, u/v thing, new pressure tank, and undercounter r.o.

    I don't know what proper pricing is, but I'd like to get the right thing for what I need, and be able to service it myself. I am worried that I'll buy something and it won't be enough, then I'll have to add something else and now I've messed up the water flows or the efficiency of the fist system due to having to add things. Or, I've bought too much stuff and needlessly wasted money.

    I've gotten some good info from this and other forums and have a general idea of the available tech, just not so sure about the Iron filters and which is best for my situation.

    Thank you for your time and any assistance. Please let me know if there is specific information that is still needed.

  2. #2
    Water systems designer, R&D ditttohead's Avatar
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    Lets start with the basics, thought this could turn into a huge debate that I am not interested in. Your local water treatment guy should know what to do regionally, but as soon as somebody recommends a softener for 5 PPM iron, I cringe.
    Iron removal can be done with Pyrolox. This media is difficult to use, is the dirtiest media ever mined, and takes considerable backwash water but it eliminates the need for pot perm. If it is used correctly, it is one of the best medias ever. Used incorrectly, it is a nightmare.
    You mention that you have tannins and that will likely be the cause of your fishy smell.
    High hardness should be dealt with especially if you want to get rid of the tannins.


    Here is my recommendation, this is a very unique system designed specifically for your application.


    Stage 1: Minimum, A 9x48 Iron and hydrogen removal system utilizing Pyrolox. Please note that your pump needs to be able to pump 11 GPM to properly backwash the Pyrolox.
    Stage 2, an parallel tank system with softening resin in tank 1, and Tannin selective resin in tank 2. This unique design eliminates the need for seperate regeneration cycles for the softener and tannin systems. The softener regenerant wast (chloride) is used to regenerate the tannin resin.
    This design requires the addition of a resup feeder to lower the pH of the brine water so as to prevent the precipitation of the caco3 in the anion resin bed.

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    This would be the way I would do it.

  3. #3
    DIY Junior Member Platin465's Avatar
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    Ok, that second stage thing is all new to me. I'll need to get more info (and pricing) to get that one around my head. What I get so far is that they both regenerate at the same time, but the softener gets brine and the tannin remover gets chloride. So is there going to be a chloride tank, or do I need a retention tank for chlorinated water? Also, other than saving on buying two valves, why is this better than having the two tanks independent?

    For the Pyrolox, nobody locally has suggested that. I've read up on that and do worry about backwash rate. How do I determine what my pump can output? I have no info on the pump, and my pressure tank is bad.

    Thank you for the quick reply!

  4. #4
    Water systems designer, R&D ditttohead's Avatar
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    The pyrolx based systems are great and we are actually out of them right now. It is also marketed under many other brand names. It is simply Manganese Dioxide. Most iron medias are sand that has a light coating of manganes dioxode. This is the pure form.

    The parallel tank design is quite simple.

    The first tank has softener resin, which is required (extremely highly recommended) prior to an anion resin bed to extend the life of the anion media, Specialized anion medias are used for sulfate, Tannin, or nitrate removal. The second tank has tannin specific resin.

    When the softener needs to regenerate, the Cation water softening resin uses the sodium portion of the salt (sodium Chloride) to regenerate. The Chloride portion of the brine is typically just a waste product. in this design, the waste product will then go through the Anion tannin resin as a regenerant.

    Typical tannin systems are seperate because the complexity of designing a system to do both has been problematic. With this special adapter, the design is actually quite easy.

    The main design flaw with this system is the need to drop the pH in the brine tankk so as to minimize fouling of the Tannin resin that can occur due to the high caco3 load the bed will see during regeneration.

  5. #5
    DIY Junior Member Platin465's Avatar
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    Ok, I think I get it. First, we clean out the Iron using Pyrolox (instead of greensand which just has a coating of pyrolox), then we clean out the hardness (CaCo3) with a regular resin, then clean out the tannins with the opposite type of resin. We want to clean out the hardness first because the tannin resin is harmed by the hardness.

    At what point does the Sodium get separated from the chloride though?

    I've seen products sold with both softener and tannin resins together, so I didn't know that was a bad idea. I've also heard that there are different types of aion resins and some may not work at all depending on the composition of the tannins. If this is true, how would I go about determining which I need?

    Also, what can I do about Iron bacteria? I've heard it's bad for that stuff go go into the resin beds. I've got it growing in the toilet tanks, so I'm assuming it's coming from the well.

    Is this system something you sell & ship to me, or can I buy what I need and put it together from an online distributor?

  6. #6
    Water systems designer, R&D ditttohead's Avatar
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    I work for a major OEM assembler so I do not sell equipment, but I can recommend some companies that sell this equipment.

    For the iron bacteria, there are several methods for treating it but I always try this method first. If you are successful, constant chlorine injectin may not be necessary, just sanitizing the well intermittently. Bypass you equipment when you do this and allow the chlorine to sit in the pipes for some time.

    I dont have my boiler plate well sanitiztion method in front of me but the general idea is this.

    Add 3 cups of bleach to the well, allow the system to pump the water into the house until you smell bleach at each faucet and toilet, shower, etc. Let the bleach sit for an hour and then run the water until no bleach smell persists. This will sanitize the well and your plumbing. Make sure the well is properly maintained andno run off can get in. This will usually take care of the problem as most well have bacterial control issues due to run off getting into the well, not the ground water itself having excessive amounts of bacteria. This is also a regional issue. A simple injection of 1-2 PPM of chlorine ahead of the Pyrolox system may be necessary if the problem persists. A simple contact tank may also help but this starts to add up to a lot of equipment.

    PM me if you need a contact for this specific equipment.

    Tannin resins mixed with the softener resin work, but not well. The anion resin tends to go to the top of the bed, which causes fouling of the resin. Tannins are tricky and many companies will sell tannin filter cartridges for cheap that will make a good pilot test prior to investing a lot of money. Same for the Pyrolox media, it can be bought in filter form to minimize the cost for testing purposes.

  7. #7
    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    I've personally shocked many wells and I must say that 3 cups of bleach with well water containing 4-5 ppm of iron is not going to do much more than waste bleach, time and water. Plus shocking a well to get rid of IRB is not a good thing. Especially for steel well casing or drop pipe and it's not all that 'permanent'. Cleaning a well and teh surrounding strata usually doesn't get rid of the problem permanently either.

    My suggestion for IRB and the iron and any manganese and/or other harmful bacteria would be to use chlorine but not in a solution feeder. A erosion type dry pellet inline chlorinator and a mixing tank followed by Centaur carbon in a correctly sized backwashed filter is usually the best choice.

    I don't see any tannin test results. So I assume someone has mentioned them as a possibility which is possible but not proven as where I would suggest filtering for them as yet. Then a softener for the hardness and then actually test for tannins and if you need one, then if you have a problem with them, a tannin filter after the softener.

    You probably don't have a well pump sufficiently sized to successfully backwash Pyrolox.
    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.

  8. #8
    Water systems designer, R&D ditttohead's Avatar
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    The proper shock sanitization rates for wells is a set formula that is very involved. Depth of well, water level, casing size, levels of bacteria, type, etc... I will say that overchlorinating a well on a rare occasion will not hurt it. The three cups of household bleach is a typical sanitization amount for a 4" well with standard water levels of... I foget. I will try to find my charts for that in thenext day or two. Most service guys use the caharts, and then double it to be sure.

    Which erosion pellet feeder do you recommend? I have had so many complaints on them that we stopped offering them and are looking for a good quality unit. We usually recommend the Autotrol drop feeder system, not that this is any good either.

    We distribute Centaur, but it is not available in California and this may spread to other states soon. California has decided to poorly word legislation to the point that many GAC medias are no longer for sale here. We are using a catlytic GAC from germany now, it works better than any media we have tested, but it is difficult to start up due to it being the dirtiest carbon we have ever seen. We dedust it prior to shipping the units, but it still takes 5 times longer than any other Carbon we have tried.
    For the Tannin, it should definetly be tested for since you mentioned a fishy smell, that is a great indicator. Treating for tannin is usually very easy.

  9. #9
    DIY Junior Member Platin465's Avatar
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    Thank you both for the input on IRB and tannins. I believe one of the testers did say I have tannins, and when I first bought the house and had someone come over and service the current equipment, he said I have a tannin issue. He flushed the softener through the nearest hose bibb and a ton of foamy stuff came out. He said that was due to the tannins. I'm not sure what the procedure to do that is, otherwise I could check it again to see how bad it is in the tank now. In any case, the fishy smell is a rarity. The water usually tastes decent (rinsing out after brushing teeth, etc.) now that I stopped using the greensand iron filter.

    Gary, are you suggesting that the pellet & mixing tank method will get rid of both Iron and IRB, plus other things? Would the fact that it then goes through a carbon filter help keep the tannin levels down?

    What is the correct method to determine my flow rate? How do I determine if my pump can handle the backwash of any particular media/valve/tank?

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    Water systems designer, R&D ditttohead's Avatar
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    The chlorine will not get rid of the iron, it will change it to an easily filterable form. The GAC filter bed acts as a filter and also does an exceptional job of Adsorbing the residual chlorine. The backwash cycle will get rid of the filterable iron. While this is not the way to do it by the book, it is one of the best solutions. It is very inexpensive to maintain, wastes very little water, and also gives you fairly good tasting water. It is also highly effective for the type of water you have. My only concern has been the chlorine pellet inline units. Gary, which unit have you had success with? We have tried 2 and they were both garbage. A few of our customers have had great success making their own out of BB filter housings and a simple modified water softener manifold for bleed control. They feed the water in an upflow (reverse flow) to keep the chlorine from packing and turning into sludge. We use the Anti-scale screen to forcethe water down through the chlorine tablets. I can post pictures later if you would like. I would prefer to find a good Chlorine tablet feeder instead.

    Thanks Gary, great information as always!

  11. #11
    DIYer, not in the trades LLigetfa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Platin465 View Post
    What is the correct method to determine my flow rate? How do I determine if my pump can handle the backwash of any particular media/valve/tank?
    Your flow rate will depend on pressure as all pumps produce on a curve. You connect a short hose to the draincock of the tank Tee and you increase the flow until the pump can no longer build more pressure. Time how long it takes to fill a bucket and do the math. Repeat at different pressures to determine the pump curve.

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    DIYer, not in the trades LLigetfa's Avatar
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    Oh, I'm sure Gary will be quick to point out that the flow rate at the tank Tee has no bearing on the actual flow rate you will get during backwash through the head of the filter. My test only determines the flow rate at the tank Tee and the plumbing and filter head will determine the rest.

  13. #13
    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Platin465 View Post
    Gary, are you suggesting that the pellet & mixing tank method will get rid of both Iron and IRB, plus other things? Would the fact that it then goes through a carbon filter help keep the tannin levels down?
    As Dittohead said plus the system kills any other type of bacteria.

    Quote Originally Posted by Platin465 View Post
    What is the correct method to determine my flow rate? How do I determine if my pump can handle the backwash of any particular media/valve/tank?
    The only physical way is to lift the drop pipe up out of the well and measure the gpm from the open end of the drop pipe at your average water pressure (30/50 = 40 psi). Yuo set the average pressure by plubing a shut off valve on the drop pipe along with a pressure gauge between the valve and the pump. But Centaur is easy to backwash so you don't have to measure your gpm.

    Otherwise you measure the gpm through a reduction like the boiler drain valve at the pressure tank and any pipe that has a smaller than 1" ID. That substantially reduces the gpm.

    Or... you use a pump chart but... you have to know the static water level in the well and how deep the pump is.

    The equipment should all be installed with 1" ID pipe and then out of the softener with the same ID you have now. The system will not treat for tannins.
    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
    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    Platin, here's a link to a dealer in FL. Dittohead if you contact them they can put you in touch with the inventor/manufacturer. There is a knock off that has had problems and given the original a bad rep. I've sold quite a few and as long as the customer drains off the tank once a month and refills every 2-3 months and cleans out the hopper while using the minimum dose, their water is pristine.

    I insisted on a stop valve before and after the hopper and a tee with a boiler drain valve in it on the outlet side before the stop valve so you can relieve water pressure before trying to open the chlorinator. I hung it in the plumbing back all but against a wall and if there was a softener the salt tank was set under it so a 5 gal bucket could sit on it top of it under the hopper to drain out the water and then to put the whole chlorinator into it as you took it out of the plumbing for cleaning/refilling. You don't ever add pellets without draining the water out and cleaning it first and you only fill it as per the instructions.

    http://4pureh2o.com/
    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 mialynette2003's Avatar
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    The biggest problems I have found with pellet chlorinator is you can not control the amount of chlorine being added and the ports get stopped up with calcium. I perfer an injection pump.

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