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Thread: New system setup, iron softener with KDF

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    DIY Member MagKarl's Avatar
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    Default New system setup, iron softener with KDF

    First let me say that I really appreciate the folks here that contribute. I've been reading here as a guest for several months now as I've been leaning toward getting a water treatment system and learned quite a bit from you. Most other subjects you can find several different info sources and discussion forums for DIY, but water treatment is difficult to find good info. I feel more confident in the info gained from this site than what I have been able to get from my local water treatment professionals. So however arrogant or ignorant it may be, I've given up on those guys and ordered a system online and signed up here.

    I have a well that gives good water other than taste, smell, and staining the showers. Tests clean from a health standpoint. I get about 12gpm out of it.

    Hardness about 6gpg, iron about 1ppm, some H2S in both hot and cold. pH is about 7.5. I drink it, my wife and kids don't. I clean the showers, and I've had it. The iron staining is a real pain.

    The pros around here all recommend softeners with a little bit of KDF. I was going to get a Water Right Sanitizer Plus but instead decided to go generic for a fraction of the cost.

    I ordered a 1.5cf 48K iron softener. Fleck 5600SXT with fine mesh resin and 15lbs of KDF. I chose 15lbs because that's about what's in a Sanitizer plus 1054 tank.

    One of the subjects I'd like some input on is the setup in terms of balancing water/salt efficiency with resin life. I understand the compromise and backwash challenge with fine mesh resin and KDF. With my compensated hardness of 10ish gpg at a rate of about 500 gals per day, my daily softening load is 5000 grains. I should be able to cover that at 6-8lbs/cf salt and a weekly regeneration. Is weekly regeneration with my levels of hardness, iron, and H2S reasonable and going to give me long media life? I know I can't use Iron Out with the KDF. Is there any reason to regenerate with more salt than the charts say you should need? Should I be regenerating more based on a number of days instead of by capacity?

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by MagKarl View Post


    I ordered a 1.5cf 48K iron softener. Fleck 5600SXT with fine mesh resin and 15lbs of KDF. I chose 15lbs because that's about what's in a Sanitizer plus 1054 tank.
    Well if you already ordered it, good luck. First of all 15lbs is not a little KDF. It is very heavy given that it will only provide about an inch of media for the sulfur water to travel through. Secondly, it will not backwash thoroughly due to its weight. It will drop to the bottom of the tank under the resin and will begin to channel. Eventually, it will solidify. It will work initially, but will fail after a given time, volume and quantity of sulfur to be removed.

    Imagine taking a 15lbs of pennies and grinding them up into a course pile of grain-like media. Throw them into a ten inch wide bucket. Now put a hole in the bottom of the buck and place a garden hose and put about 4 gpm through the media. There is no chance that you are going to lift the heavy media to adequately backwash it. Water WILL go through it in a geyser-like fashion but only in isolated sections. After doing that a hundred times or more, water will still channel through the same locations but the rest of the media will start to bond together and solidify. Eventually, it will become rock hard and even turning the softener tank upside down will not be able to clear it out to replace it.

    The sections of the KDF that does not lift during backwash will still struggle to remove sulfur until it is overloaded (READ: even heavier with flow-restricting tendencies) and compounds the problem.

    If you set the backwash rate adequate to lift the media (12-14 gpm) then the light weight of the fine mesh resin would cause it to just piston to the top of the tank and it would not backwash properly. One or the other will fail.

    A one-system-cures-all usually fails all. KDF does have fine qualities but is often misused.
    Last edited by water solutions; 07-12-2012 at 07:45 AM.

  3. #3
    DIY Member MagKarl's Avatar
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    Do you have a recommendation for the max flow rate I can backwash the fine mesh resin?

    I know this is a compromise situation and I may learn some tough lessons. The Water Right system puts the KDF on the bottom and claims that since the water has already passed through the resin by the time it gets there, the KDF does not see the constant load of the raw water that it would in a KDF only system. Time will tell. If it fails, I'll rebed with something else or add separate equipment for dedicated functions.

    Do you think brine/salt concentration will affect this either better/worse? What would you suggest to maximize my chances of success?

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    In the Trades Tom Sawyer's Avatar
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    Bottom, top, no difference as WaterSolutions already said, most of the KDF will be on the bottom of the tank within 3 months and yadda yadda yadda, every caution that WS gave you is pretty damn valid. I hate the decision you made to mix medias. Separate filters are almost always a more economical and better working solution in the long run. Do yourself a favor and trade the KDF for more resin, then handle your iron and H2S problem separately
    [B]No, plumbing ain't rocket science. Unlike rocket science, plumbing requires a license[B]

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    Water systems designer, R&D ditttohead's Avatar
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    Agreed, the mixing of medias, especially KDF should never be done except for marketing purposes. 15 pounds of kdf in a 10" tank is 2" of media, how much contact time do you think it will have? http://kdfft.com/images/kdf_POESheet.pdf see this link for detailed information on KDF and its applications, including backwash rates, bed depths, flow rates, etc. 15 pounds for a whole house system is basically nothing. The minimum we recommend is 30 or more pounds, and that is for chlorine removal, nothing more. For iron or hydrogen sulfide, contact time is key. Check out my system, the third tank is KDF, it has 24 pounds of KDF as a chlorine prefilter to the 2 cu. ft. Catalytic GAC filter. Backwash rates are critical as is bed depth.

    Let us know what results you get with the equipment. Many times systems will work when they shouldnt. I have installed birm on water supplies in excess of 25 ppm iron, 5 years later, still working. But, we try to keep our numbers within the manufacturers recommendations to ensure the customers do not call back with complaints or desiring a return.

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    DIY Member MagKarl's Avatar
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    I appreciate the input. I know some of you are probably shaking your heads, but this is how I work. Even though this may or will fail, I still want to do what I can to understand what I can influence and make every effort to have it set up with the best chance of success. When it fails, I'll know better what I want. All I can say is I had 4 different guy out to the house and all recommended all in one type systems with KDF saying that's what works well in this area, so that's what I bought. I will definately be hanging around and will report out how it goes.

    Can any of you guys give me an idea on what my max theoretical backwash rate ought to be for fine mesh resin? Temp is 50-55F. Is 50% expansion a good target? I can change my DLFC and get to 50% pretty easily if the chart for bed expansion I found online is applicable to my resin. Do most fine mesh resins behave similarly or does it vary greatly between vendors?


    I'm considering a swap to regular resin instead of the fine mesh in order to backwash better. What kind of flow rate/sq ft can regular resin go for the same 50% expansion? I have read that fine mesh can be backwashed at a lower rate, but no numbers for either type. I'm still working on the plumbing, so I have time to dink around with the equipment before I install it.

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