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Tool Talk Discussion Forum

Water filters or softners ?

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Steve A W

12-23-2013 11:28:51

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We just moved into a house that has a high iron content in the well water.
We have city sewer but not water, even though They ran a 30inch main under the road just 200ft away for a water park and the next town to the west,
Anyway what kind of system works good for iron removal?
I really don't care for soft water. It just feels creepy.
Any recomendations?
Thanks and Merry Christmas!!

Steve A W

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12-27-2013 06:17:18

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 Re: Water filters or softners ? in reply to Steve A W, 12-23-2013 11:28:51  
I see a LOT of different information here, some correct, some not. A softener will definitely leave some salt in your water because it softens the water through ion exchange, google it.
The MOST important thing to remember is that every water source is different. Yours may vary radically from your neighbors etc. Get your water tested by a reputable water filtration specialist. When it comes to water treatment there are a lot of "snake oil" salesmen out there and LOT of misinformation. There are many different types of iron removal system but softeners, for the most part all operate on the same principal and their resins have specific properties. It is not sufficient to say "just put in a softener" if your iron is above a certain number of PPM. You will not be able to remove all of the iron and the life of your softener will be dramatically reduced. In the end you'll be spending more money trying to put a band aid fix on the problem.
Find a reputable dealer, have your water tested, figure out from there what you need to get your water to where you want it to be.

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OH Boy

12-26-2013 14:40:54

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 Re: Water filters or softners ? in reply to Steve A W, 12-23-2013 11:28:51  
A Kinetico system will take care of it. Ours works great. We do use about 500 pounds of salt per year with it.

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Dean Olson

12-25-2013 18:46:04

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 Re: Water filters or softners ? in reply to Steve A W, 12-23-2013 11:28:51  
I agree with the opinions to get a water test. Sears will do one for free. I'm not a big fan of Sears as I think the quality is low.

What your looking for in the test is wether the iron can be filtered out or has to be oxidized 1st then filtered out.

If it has to be oxidized you are looking at a: 1. A chemical feed pump injecting chlorine into the well or 2. a pill dropper dropping chlorine tablets or 3. a filter with greensand or birm as the oxidizing media. Chlorine is the least expensive and lowest on going maintenance.

If it can be filtered a backwashing media filter is the lowest on going maintenance. Next option are the simple inline cartridge filters. As another opined have extra filters and o rings always on hand.

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Steve A W

12-25-2013 12:02:12

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 Re: Water filters or softners ? in reply to Steve A W, 12-23-2013 11:28:51  
Thanks and Merry Christmas Now I know witch way to start researching it.
I'll start with a water test and see what the budget will bare.

Thanks again.

Steve A W

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12-25-2013 03:12:54

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 Re: Water filters or softners ? in reply to Steve A W, 12-23-2013 11:28:51  
IMO, a softener is the simplest and best solution. Use a rust removing salt (like Dura Cube Red-Out) to keep the media clean. Once you get used to soft water, you'll wonder how you managed without it. Faucets will last almost forever and your washer will require less detergent.

If you have more iron than a softener alone can handle (over about 4 ppm), there are dedicated iron removal systems that work similar to a water softener but don't use salt. I seriously doubt you need one of those.

As for filters, they're a fair amount of aggravation. You need to change the O-ring about every other filter, and filters need to be changed every few weeks. With my old softener I added a filter upstream of the softener to reduce the iron the softener had to remove. I got tired of having to constantly change filter elements so I got rid of it when I replaced the softener.

We also have a reverse osmosis unit for drinking water downstream of the softener. This removes sodium, arsenic and other bad stuff from the softened water.

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12-25-2013 17:09:08

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 Re: Water filters or softners ? in reply to MarkB_MI, 12-25-2013 03:12:54  
Quoting Removed, click Modern View to see

My filter needs to be changed only about every fifteen months and it is still on the original O-ring at over twenty years.

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12-24-2013 04:48:43

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 Re: Water filters or softners ? in reply to Steve A W, 12-23-2013 11:28:51  
I used to sell and service softeners. I learned the importance of protecting them with a filter before it. Mine catches a lot of iron. I also thought that all of the salt was rinsed out but then found out after getting a customers water tested that it does leave an elevated amount of salt. Nowhere near enough to taste but enough that you should not drink a lot of it.

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12-24-2013 02:46:10

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 Re: Water filters or softners ? in reply to Steve A W, 12-23-2013 11:28:51  
We have a Kenetico softner. Thing was higher than a giraffe's butt. Best softner I ever had. Use about 4, 40# bags of Morton pellets in 6 months. It only softens the water that you use. No electrical junk on it. No slick feeling after a shower. No funky taste in the water. Doesn't effect my wife or me, both of us have high blood pressure. We also have a whole house filter ahead on the softner.

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JD Seller

12-23-2013 20:36:20

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 Re: Water filters or softners ? in reply to Steve A W, 12-23-2013 11:28:51  
The best way for high iron is a reverse osmosis water system. They remove just about everything from the water. They are common just north of me where they have high iron and sulfur in the water. They are not cheap. $4000+

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12-23-2013 20:08:15

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 Re: Water filters or softners ? in reply to Steve A W, 12-23-2013 11:28:51  
Without a water test to tell what your problems are, its kind of like asking "How high is high? or "How blue is blue"?. A baseline water test is needed to recommend equipment to solve your problem. Marlo in Racine, Wisc is a very reputable manufacturer. Their director of chemistry is James Ticchone (sp?) and they will test your water for you. Water chemistry is a fascinating subject.

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Hal/ Eastern WA

12-23-2013 18:03:18

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 Re: Water filters or softners ? in reply to Steve A W, 12-23-2013 11:28:51  
Depends on just how bad the iron problem is, and how much you want to spend dealing with it.

My well is in basalt, and there is some iron in the water. Over the years, the iron problem has got worse, not better. Untreated, the water would make toilet bowls pretty brown if they were not brushed out a couple times a week. And there was no good way to wash white clothes at our house. We took them to the laundramat in town.

When we built our new house about 20 years ago, I planned for a water softener preceded by a whole house filter. That worked very well for years, and I only had to change the element in the whole house filter a couple times a year and add salt to the softener tank.

About 10 years ago, I started to need to change the whole house filter element much more often because the filter would plug with rust granules and flow would be reduced. Apparently more smaller rust got by the filter, as it caused wear to the valve portion of the Sears water softener, which made it hang up and not soften the water right.

Last Winter I noticed that my pump was running a lot more than it should have for the small water use we have at that time of year. I figured out that the galvanized 1" water line between the pump house and the house had rusted out and was leaking badly. We limped the system through the cold weather and I replaced the water line with plastic in the Spring.

I had expected that there would be lots less iron in the water with the now plastic water line. There was less rust, but still a significant amount. I replaced the whole house filter with a much "tighter" one and also put in a new water softener. The water in the house is fine again now, however I need to change the filter element about every month, or flow is obviously reduced.

I suspect that some of the iron in my well water comes from the 20 foot steel casing at the top of the well, which was required by law when I had the well drilled in 1976. The static level of the water in the well is sometimes as high as 6 feet from the top, however at other times it is quite a bit lower. I would guess that the steel casing gets wet sometimes and then is exposed to air at other times, which seems like a great way to get the steel to rust.

One of the things that helps to lessen the iron in the well is to treat the water with citric acid. I dissolve about 10 pounds of citric acid in 5 gallons of hot water and then pour it into the well through piping I have installed in the well top seal. There is a chemical reaction in the water after the citric acid is introduced. The orange rust turns black and seems to become more soluble. The first time I tried this procedure, the water turned VERY black, almost like ink. When I flushed the system a couple of days later by running the hose out on the lawn, the water ran black for more than an hour. But then it became clearer and finally got pretty good. I didn"t have much rust in the water for a while. Maybe I will try treating the well in January.

There are other devices that treat water prior to it going through a softener. I have looked at them a little. They are fairly costly.

Can you hook up to the municipal water supply, at least for the house? That might end up being the least expensive solution, unless that water also has iron problems. If you do hook up to that supply, I would suggest NOT USING GALVANIZED PIPE! It rusts out...and has to be done over.

Or you might want to try the filter and water softener system like I have. I suppose I have close to $1000 invested in it, installing everything myself.

You really should not drink water that has gone through a water softener, as it will have increased sodium ions in it. High sodium might make blood pressure be higher than it should be. The solution to this problem is to plan your plumbing work so the cold water to the kitchen sink does not go through the softener (like the softener instructions tell you to do!!!). And then only drink water from the cold water tap in the kitchen sink. Or you can drink only bottled water, like we do, since our well water does not taste that good.

I hope this helps. Having lots of iron in the water is a real pain. Good luck!

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12-23-2013 14:28:04

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 Re: Water filters or softners ? in reply to Steve A W, 12-23-2013 11:28:51  
best is a fine micron carbon filter for removing iron--i have read that water softeners will introduce salt into the water--so if you are high or borderline high blood pressure i would be very careful with a softener--i choose to not to have one

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12-23-2013 17:21:22

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 Re: Water filters or softners ? in reply to dpendzic, 12-23-2013 14:28:04  
The salt is only used during regeneration process, and is merely used to flush out the system, and is followed by a flush with clear water after. No salt is added to the water supply, it merely goes down the drain during the regeneration process, in which the softener is bypassed during this process. I have used a softener for nearly 20 years, and can never notice any trace of salt in the drinking water, but it sure helps with the quality of water, and would never be without one now.

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Rollie NE PA

12-23-2013 18:10:59

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 Re: Water filters or softners ? in reply to Ron-MO, 12-23-2013 17:21:22  
Ron,I thought the same as you, that there is no salt in the softened water. I had it tested and there was salt in the water. We could not taste it, but it was there. I have my salt intake on the softner set to the lowest setting. We drink bottled water now. I have a two stage softner and a chlorine contact tank. I have my softner set to back wash every six days. Water is crystal clear.

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Russ from MN

12-23-2013 13:51:14

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 Re: Water filters or softners ? in reply to Steve A W, 12-23-2013 11:28:51  
There are systems that will take out just iron, but a softener will take out quite a bit too. We have hard water and iron, and a softener takes care of it. We buy the better salt, don't know if its any better, but it works. It is important to have a good filter ahead of the softener to keep the crud in the water from plugging up the softener. Good luck, it's not that big a problem, city water isn't always so great either!

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12-23-2013 13:50:11

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 Re: Water filters or softners ? in reply to Steve A W, 12-23-2013 11:28:51  
Yes, an iron remover. We have both an iron remover and a softener. Softeners will remove some iron but if it's over a certain threshold, you will have lots of problems with your softener's filter bed getting fouled. There are a few different types of iron remover, ours uses air to oxidize the iron and a filter bed to remove it once it's oxidized. Other types use harsh chemicals (potassium permagnanate) to oxidize the iron, the removal process is much the same once it's oxidized. We used to have the latter but I found I didnt' like handling the chemicals and the air type system works just as good without the chemical.
The most important thing is to have your water tested to see what is actually in it. There are numerous differenty types of filters etc. that work on different types of water. It's all chemistry. Until you know EXACTLY what is in your water and in what quantities, you are just shooting in the dark and will probably end up frustrated and $$ out of pocket.

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12-23-2013 12:20:59

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 Re: Water filters or softners ? in reply to Steve A W, 12-23-2013 11:28:51  
Same issue here. I have a good filter before the softner, and one after too. Best softener I could afford, and it does help, but still get rust in the sinks and dishwasher. We just learned to live with it.

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