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Thread: Water smells like soldering after softener install

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member Momadoo's Avatar
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    Default Water smells like soldering after softener install

    Yesterday I had someone come and install a water softener for me. I had had one before so this was a reinstall. They took out the old one and put the new one in and ran new pipe from the main to the system and out from the system, they also installed a Big Blue water filter between the main and the softener system. Right after the system was installed, the water was cloudy and smelled like the stuff they used to solder it with. He told me to run in for a while and it would eventually clear up. I ran the water for about a half hour, had three teens take their hour long showers and my husband took his shower this morning. It never did completely stop smelling, but it did get slightly less cloudy. This morning I turned the water on and it smelled so bad even my husband complained. He had tried to make coffee with the water and he said it tasted horrible. The water was also still cloudy. My husband said it looked like the installers had used too much flux and that was what the smell was. I called the company who had done the install and they told me they'd never heard of too much flux causing problems and that maybe the water softener had changed the pH of my water and that was what I was smelling. They suggested running the water for five minutes and it should be a-okay. So I went back to running my water to try to get rid of whatever might have been left behind. I finally went back to the softener system and bypassed it to see if that was the problem, but the water was still cloudy and smelled like flux. Then I shut the water off at the main and opened up the Big Blue filter, and there was actual flux floating in the water in the filter and filter itself was covered with it. So apparently my husband was right, too much flux. I've since taken out the filter, I'm running the water through an empty Big Blue because I can't seem to find replacement filters anywhere. My water is smelling better, but you can still smell the burnt flux smell (now over 24 hours later) and it's still slightly cloudy. Not to mention, I'm afraid to shower in it since my hands are all chapped from washing my hands in this water (kind of defeats the whole purpose of getting a water softener doesn't it?). My question is, should we have our plumber come in and flush the lines or will this eventually resolve and if so about how long does it take? Also, will my hot water heater need to be cleaned?

  2. #2
    In the Trades dwindle's Avatar
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    I have never heard of anything like this.
    This is entirely the plumbers problem, but now that you removed the evidence, I'm not sure what you can prove.

    You may need to have your water tested, and if any abnormality comes back to the plumbers flux, you'd have a case.

    In my many years of plumbing, I have never left a noteable trace of flux in a water system.

  3. #3
    DIY Junior Member Momadoo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dwindle View Post
    I have never heard of anything like this.
    This is entirely the plumbers problem, but now that you removed the evidence, I'm not sure what you can prove.

    You may need to have your water tested, and if any abnormality comes back to the plumbers flux, you'd have a case.

    In my many years of plumbing, I have never left a noteable trace of flux in a water system.
    I still have the filter and the water from the filter with the flux in it. Not looking for a case, the company that installed the softener is a reputable company and the boys who did it were young. I really don't want to get them in trouble either. My concern is that the water is safe. Today it's clear and doesn't have any smell, so I'm hoping that by removing the filter that was beaded up with the flux and running water all day I flushed it out. They did say they'd come back on monday and test the water if there were any concerns. The other issue I was worried about was my hot water heater, and I can flush that if I need to, just don't wanna hafta, if you know what I mean. We have our own plumber coming in on Tuesday to help us finish a bathroom remodel and I could ask him to look at it. I didn't run the dishwasher or washing machine during this time, so if there was anything in the water it wouldn't have gotten into it. I do know that the oil based flux can be a mess if you use too much, done it myself as a teen and learned a whole new language from my grandfather, which is why I call in the professionals for anything other than a toilet change or small things like a new sink or new faucets. That and the fact that sometimes a spot is tight and I worry about flaming something and catching the framework on fire! The boys were down there for almost three hours sweating the pipes and I wondered why they were taking so long, this might have been why. I also went through and changed out all the aerators, just as a precaution. Fact is, they hadn't been changed out since we had put them in so it was time anyway. I've never had flux in a water system either, and we have plumbers dream here in terms of what we've had done, so this was a shock to see this happen. The install company said the same thing you said, they'd never heard of such a thing. I wanted to put the water in a thermos and drive it over and offer to have them drink it! It smelled so strong it took your breath away. At any rate, thanks for the reply. I knew when I put the question up it was going to be hard for anyone to answer because of the smell of a lawsuit and I wanted to put in the original post that I wasn't looking for a suit, I just need water in my house and I needed to know how to fix it quickly and completely. Mistakes happen and I expect that, my concern is what I need to do fix it.

  4. #4
    DIY Junior Member Momadoo's Avatar
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    Plumber came from the softener company and I showed him the filter and water from the filter. He confirmed it was flux...lots of it. Said he's been doing this for decades and never saw this happen before. They used a petroleum based flux and it has always flushed out with little problem. He stuck his finger in the edge of the pipes and there was clumps of it still on the inside edge of the pipes he could reach with his finger. We think the guys may have used their fingers to put it on and instead of rubbing the excess off on a rag, the just ran their fingers on the edge of the pipe and cleaned their fingers off that way. He said he thought he used a lot of flux, but this was chunks in the filter and globs floating in the water. So we filled the filter with boiling hot water and let the water run through and flush it out. For now it's just a matter of waiting until it's all flushed out. He suggested changing all the aerators on my faucets and the screen on my washing machine (which I hadn't used anyway). What a mess. Three days without water for dishes, laundry and I wasn't going to shower in it. Not to mention, the smell and couldn't drink the water. Just want to put this out for others who may have this issue in the future. I had looked everywhere online to find answers and everywhere I read when there were complaints of this is that it never happens. Well, it does and it did. Thankfully it all comes out in the wash, eventually, but it is a mess to clean up.

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