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Thread: Need help hard/soft water

  1. #1
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    Default Need help hard/soft water

    I have a long time customer who has a 6000sq. ft home with finished basement.

    Here is the problem his water is 30 grains/gal hard. I installed a softener and it works great. His wife HATES soft water in the shower. So they are about to get divorced over this.

    I want to install a seperate WH piped with hard water and a seperate hookup to the cold line with hard water also.

    What I need is some kind of remotely controlled RF electronic switch that can controll the flow of the water so they can switch from hard to soft water at the touch of a button.

    Does anyone know of anything like this or how I could make something that would work.
    Last edited by Cass; 04-26-2006 at 05:58 PM.

  2. #2
    In the Trades Bob NH's Avatar
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    When municipal systems soften water they often leave 6 to 8 grains of hardness per gallon in the water. That is not so easy to do with an ion exchange system that usually takes all of the hardness out of the water.

    If the pressure drop across the softener doesn't vary over the time between regeneration cycles, it might be possible to put an adjustable bypass (a small valve) around the softener that would allow about 20% hard water to mix with 80% soft water. Two gallons at 30 grains + 8 gallons at 0 grains = 10 gallons at 6 grains.

    There will be variation in pressure drop with flow, but that is ok because the pressure drop variation with flow will result in a similar variation in the bypass flow.

    Here is an invention for you (patent pending ). You could run a cold hard water line to the cold side of a tempering valve. The mixed water will contain some hardness. The temperature settings could be figured out to result in the desired temperature and hardness.

    A simpler solution would be to run the soft water only to the water heater. The water heater would be protected but the warm water would be all mixed some hard cold water. End of slippery showers.

    Another variation would be to run the cold hard water line only to the shower.

  3. #3
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    Everything is at the far end of the house and the basement is finished. He want to shower and have soft everywhere she just doesn't want it in the shower.

    Thanks Bob NH for the ideas but I will keep looking for some kind of valve that will work.

  4. #4
    plumbing manager jerryleesprague's Avatar
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    cass, this is an interesting senario,one could use 4 omega SV3301 solenoid valves at a cost of $65-$70 a piece, and pipe your hot/cold hard into two of the valves and the soft lines into the other 2 and wire them into a wall switch in the bathroom. The valves would have to be located in an accessable location so that a plumber could service them if needed. With a flick of the switch the user could switch from hard to soft water instantly.

    Another solution would be to seperately rough in two seperate shower valves side by side (or whatever) one hard water and one soft with 2 shower heads or both valve outlets tied into the same shower head riser. With this configuration the user could even blend the hard with the soft to get the perfect designer hardness. Maybe that's a stretch but a possible solution

  5. #5
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default valves

    A Conbraco motorized three way ball valve bypassing the softener with a second water heater piped off the hard cold with a check valve at both hot water tanks to prevent backfeed/mixing when either water source is active would solve the problem.

  6. #6
    plumbing manager jerryleesprague's Avatar
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    what model is the conbraco valve? How many inlets and outlets does it have? Not to be disrespectful but the solution is not clear to me.

  7. #7
    In the Trades Bob NH's Avatar
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    If you run a cold hard water line to the shower in question you can get the following:

    2 gallons Hot water at 150 F and 0 grains hardness + 1 gallon cold water at 60 F and 30 grains of hardness = 3 gallons at 120 F and 10 grains of hardness. The shower temperature control is your valve. It can't get much simpler than that.

  8. #8
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    The basement is finished I can't do that.

  9. #9
    Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek Mikey's Avatar
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    Default A lot of wasted water...

    ...if she has to run a new slug of hard water to the shower every time. Also, (presumably) every intermediate fixture will have to be flushed to get the kind of water the current user wants. I'm thinking there are really only two solutions:

    1) Install a separate shower valve fed by soft hot water and cold hard water, feeding the same showerhead as the original; let her use this one. If you have to un-finish a bit of the basement, so be it. If she's anything like my wife, she'd love the opportunity to do some remodeling.

    2) All in all, the divorce might be simpler, although probably not cheaper.

    Or, when all else fails, try marketing. If you Google "soft water" and "wash hair", you'll find a bunch of information on why soft water is better for washing hair -- for example: The Straight Dope, which says, among other things: "Skin washed in hard water is typically reported as feeling scratchy and dry as a result of the soap scum, and hair is often reported as being dull-looking and sticky."

    I don't know of any woman who won't do anything for her hair.
    Last edited by Mikey; 05-01-2006 at 03:51 AM. Reason: "When all else fails, try marketing" added

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