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Thread: Iron Filter / Water Softener - how to choose

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  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member kellerdc77's Avatar
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    Default Iron Filter / Water Softener - how to choose

    The water (especially the hot water) in my house smells like rotten eggs. I have had the water tested and been told that I have the following:
    Hardness 13 grains per gallon
    Iron at 1.16 (PPM?)
    Manganese at .9 (PPM?)

    I have been told by one company that I need a sediment filter, then an iron filter, and then a water softener.

    Another company told me that I do not need the iron filter and that the water softener will solve the issue.

    I have read different threads here and elsewhere that say that the water softener can handle the iron, but that it will cause issues over time with the water filter. I am looking for some advice.

    Thanks

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    Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek Mikey's Avatar
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    Google "water heater smell" to see another common cause of rotten-egg-smell in the hot water. I had that problem even with a good chlorinator->carbon->softener system to treat my well water (low hardness and iron). I'll let the experts here discuss the softener solutions; what worked for me to get rid of the smell was an aluminum/zinc anode rod in the water heater. I'll check it after 2 years and if that anode rod is badly corroded I'll spring for the big-buck "powered anode rod" solution, which is sort of the gold standard, but rare in residential applications.

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    DIY Senior Member mialynette2003's Avatar
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    A water softener will remove the iron. The iron will takes it toll on the valve of a softener over time, but then again, the iron will take it's toll on the valve of an iron filter. Installing a softener first will give you the answer. If the smell goes away, your problem is gone. If not, you need a softener any way and equipment to get rid of sulfur. I believe a softener will take care of the problem.

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    DIY Junior Member kellerdc77's Avatar
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    Agreed - looks like the best approach is to start with a water softener and then see if I need anything else. I have called two different places and gotten about the same price from each which is about $2000 to install a water softener. It seems like a lot to me since it looks like they can be purchased for under $800. A $1200 install fee seems high.

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    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    A hot water only odor is caused by bacteria using an ion off the water heater's anode rod to produce H2S. Setting the water heater temp to 140f for a couple hours will prove bacteria if the odor then goes away. The bacteria is harmless to animals and humans and is called sulfate reducing bacteria (SRB).

    A softener or some type of iron and/or H2S filter won't treat the bacteria.
    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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    Water systems designer, R&D ditttohead's Avatar
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    You should consider the extra salt usage, ground water supply issues, etc before using a softener for iron removal. in your application, you will use approximately double the salt to treat the iron and manganese with a softener. A proper iron/H2S removal system may make more sense.

    The rotten egg smell... go to your shower and turn on the cold water for a few minutes. Does it smell? If not, turn the shower to hot only and retest. If it now smells, the problem is in your water heater. A different sacrificial anode, sanitizing the water heater, running at a very high temperature for an hour...may correct the problem if the smell is only on the hot water side. Use extreme caution if you turn the hot water heater up, I wouold not have small kids in the house during this time.

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    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ditttohead View Post
    You should consider the extra salt usage, ground water supply issues, etc before using a softener for iron removal. in your application, you will use approximately double the salt to treat the iron and manganese with a softener. A proper iron/H2S removal system may make more sense.
    Double the salt is simply not true. He has Hardness 13 grains per gallon, Iron at 1.16 (PPM?)
    Manganese at .9 (PPM?) so the iron times 4 and the manganese times 2 and call those numbers gpg and add them to the 13 gpg of hardness. That would be an additional 5 + 2 gpg; 20 gpg compensated hardness. Now how does 7 gpg relate to double the salt for 13 gpg? Show us the math.

    And running some (1/3 cup) of Iron Out through the softener every 2 months to prevent iron fouling of the resin is much better for the OP than him spending hundreds of dollars on an iron/H2S filter.

    Quote Originally Posted by ditttohead View Post
    The rotten egg smell... go to your shower and turn on the cold water for a few minutes. Does it smell? If not, turn the shower to hot only and retest. If it now smells, the problem is in your water heater. A different sacrificial anode, sanitizing the water heater, running at a very high temperature for an hour...may correct the problem if the smell is only on the hot water side. Use extreme caution if you turn the hot water heater up, I wouold not have small kids in the house during this time.
    If sanitizing the water heater gets rid of the odor, it proves the cause of the odor is the bacteria I mentioned.
    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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    Water systems designer, R&D ditttohead's Avatar
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    Since I am not giving a training seminar today I guess I can try to guide you in the right direction.

    Iron in water... softeners should not be low salted... typically no less than 8 pounds of salt per cu. ft, preferably higher.

    1 PPM of iron =68 ppm of hardness, or 4 GPG for compensated hardness as a minimum, most companies use 5, but will use 4 to make your reply have a better chance at validity.
    1 PPM of Manganese = 2 ppm of iron, or 138 ppm of hardness, or 8 grains.

    So... by my caculation... he may actually more than double his salt usage.

    I am still not quite sure why you hate iron removal systems. Or why you think wasting masive amounts of salt to cure a problem that can be done with little to no waste, just a small up-front investment... and you wonder why so many municipalities are against water softeners.

    This is an old argument that has been discussed at length in this forum, always with the same reulsts.

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    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ditttohead View Post
    Since I am not giving a training seminar today I guess I can try to guide you in the right direction.

    Iron in water... softeners should not be low salted... typically no less than 8 pounds of salt per cu. ft, preferably higher.

    1 PPM of iron =68 ppm of hardness, or 4 GPG for compensated hardness as a minimum, most companies use 5, but will use 4 to make your reply have a better chance at validity.
    1 PPM of Manganese = 2 ppm of iron, or 138 ppm of hardness, or 8 grains.

    So... by my caculation... he may actually more than double his salt usage.

    I am still not quite sure why you hate iron removal systems. Or why you think wasting masive amounts of salt to cure a problem that can be done with little to no waste, just a small up-front investment... and you wonder why so many municipalities are against water softeners.

    This is an old argument that has been discussed at length in this forum, always with the same reulsts.
    Adding 7 gpg to his 13 gpg of hardness works very well and has for decades and without doubling the salt dose.

    The OP is not involved with municipal water or municipalities. That's because he has his own private well or he wouldn't have iron and manganese in his water. So there is no reason to bring up municipalities other than you always do. Maybe out there in California your municipal water has iron and manganese in it but the rest of the country doesn't.
    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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    Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek Mikey's Avatar
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    A neighbor has very rotten-egg-smelly hot water.

    The well tests 17gpg, 7.5pH, 0.0 Fe. He has a Kinetico system (unknown model) which seems to be softening OK (house water tested 0.0gpg). He complained to Kinetico about the smelly hot water, and they installed a filter media tank (not backwashable) following the softener, which IMHO did no good at all (consistent with the 0.0 Fe test, maybe).

    I tried turning the water heater up to 150 for a couple of days while he was away, and sure enough --the rotten-egg smell went away. BUT with that gone, a strong blood/iron(?) smell remained, although that may be a consequence of very old galvanized plumbing. When I ran hot water through the length of the house to a bathtub to flush out the stinky water, I also flushed out a ridiculous amount of a very fine black particulate. That same particulate matter flushed out of a Rusco screen filter (mesh unknown) immediately following the Kinetico-installed iron filter, but there is no sign of any such particulate in the raw well water. Any idea what that might be?

    In any event, I'm going to give him a new anode rod for Christmas.

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