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Ben Sandee
 
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Default Water softener and iron filter sanity check

Hello!

We very recently purchased a 30 year old home, with what turns out to be
a completely failed 25-yr old Culligan water softener and what appears
to be a "disadvantaged", 15-yr old Culligan Iron Filter. Our main
concern initially was a water pressure problem which was easily resolved
by bypassing the iron filter. We later discovered that the softener was
not using any salt, and was completely inneffective.

We haven't had our water independently tested, but we have had a few
separate tests that are mostly consistent with each other:

Well water
23 grains of hardness
1.5 - 2.5 ppm of iron (independent - culligan)
300 (somethings) of dissolved solids

We've had a couple of people come out:

A local independent water softener company came out, tested our water,
and suggested a Osmonics softener, installed for ~$900. The brochures
make a point of saying they use Autotrol valves, which seem to be
common, so servicing the unit should be no problem in the future. He
advised that the softener should be able to handle the amount of iron in
the water, but if we wanted a new iron filter he could sell us one for
$1700. There was no pressure to go with that immediately, however.

The next day, the local Culligan salesperson came out and ran a battery
of tests on our water (all the while looking at our existing equipment,
shaking his head in disbelief) and recommended that we replace the water
softener with a Culligan unit ($1499) and either do a major overhaul on
the current iron filter ($500, not guaranteed to fix the pressure
issues) or buy a new iron filter for $1900. He said that anyone who
told us that their softener could handle that level of iron was lying to
us and wouldn't stand behind their products when the unit failed in a
few months.

So, who's telling the truth? The indepdendent dealer has been around
for decades, several generations. My grandparents have a conditioner
(on city water) from them and have had no problems with them, so I am
inclined to trust them. I'd appreciate any suggestions on these subjects.

Thanks!

Ben


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Gary Slusser
 
Posts: n/a
Default Water softener and iron filter sanity check


"Ben Sandee" wrote
Hello!

We very recently purchased a 30 year old home, with what turns out to

be
a completely failed 25-yr old Culligan water softener and what appears
to be a "disadvantaged", 15-yr old Culligan Iron Filter. Our main
concern initially was a water pressure problem which was easily

resolved
by bypassing the iron filter. We later discovered that the softener

was
not using any salt, and was completely inneffective.

We haven't had our water independently tested, but we have had a few
separate tests that are mostly consistent with each other:

Well water
23 grains of hardness
1.5 - 2.5 ppm of iron (independent - culligan)
300 (somethings) of dissolved solids

We've had a couple of people come out:

A local independent water softener company came out, tested our water,
and suggested a Osmonics softener, installed for ~$900. The brochures
make a point of saying they use Autotrol valves, which seem to be
common, so servicing the unit should be no problem in the future. He
advised that the softener should be able to handle the amount of iron

in
the water, but if we wanted a new iron filter he could sell us one for
$1700. There was no pressure to go with that immediately, however.

The next day, the local Culligan salesperson came out and ran a

battery
of tests on our water (all the while looking at our existing

equipment,
shaking his head in disbelief) and recommended that we replace the

water
softener with a Culligan unit ($1499) and either do a major overhaul

on
the current iron filter ($500, not guaranteed to fix the pressure
issues) or buy a new iron filter for $1900. He said that anyone who
told us that their softener could handle that level of iron was lying

to
us and wouldn't stand behind their products when the unit failed in a
few months.

So, who's telling the truth? The indepdendent dealer has been around
for decades, several generations. My grandparents have a conditioner
(on city water) from them and have had no problems with them, so I am
inclined to trust them. I'd appreciate any suggestions on these

subjects.

Thanks!

Ben


If you have 2.5 ppm of iron any softener used will have to be able to
deal with it for the long run or the resin will fail. Many softeners
that are built for that amount of iron would work for average
residential water volume; 3-4 people and no additional treated water
usage but... the pH is important. High pH makes ion exchange less likely
to work over long time frames than lower pH; say less than 7.2 pH.
Autotrol has good controls but, Fleck is better on dirty iron laden
water. Fleck has one moving part in the water stream while Autotrol has
6-7 flapper valves and long porting that if loaded up with rust (which
will happen with your iron levels) are difficult to clean.

I usually don't suggest replacing equipment that is capable of being
rebuilt, which both controls on your present units may be but... the
brand you have is not conducive to being easily rebuilt and rebeded with
new resin and mineral. And they want too much! They don't use industry
standard opening tanks (2.5" x 8 thread/inch), they use 3/4" fittings
with even smaller holes in their inlet diverter and distributor tube.
Although you may have their original Fleck Controls 2500 based valves
which are easily rebuilt with a piston and seal kit. They are very good
controls. But you'd still have the old tanks.

As you see the prices from the Water Guy folks are much higher than you
have to pay an independent for equipment that is not proprietary and is
as good and IMO better than theirs. And if you want to save more money
and still have many places to get service and/or parts if needed, buy it
over the internet and install it yourself. I and others sell over the
'net and a few of us offer personal support during installation and
setup while saving our customers hundreds of dollars per piece. As an
example I can do at least $300 better than the price you have for the
Autotrol based softener; although I don't know the capacity he quoted.
I'd need the number of people in your household and any additional
treated water you use or his capacity or the size of the tank he'd use.
That's a UPS delivered price with standard additions that he might offer
as options and charge more for. And yes, you wouldn't need the iron
filter as long as your iron is not over 5 ppm and is all clear water
iron (as drawn, no discolored water) and faithfully followed my
instructions as to how to maintain the softener. E-mail me if you want a
quote.

Gary
Quality Water Associates


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Gary Slusser
 
Posts: n/a
Default Water softener and iron filter sanity check


"Bill Seurer" Bill_AT_seurer.net wrote
Ben Sandee wrote:

...He said that anyone who
told us that their softener could handle that level of iron was

lying to
us and wouldn't stand behind their products when the unit failed in

a
few months. ...


I learned the hard way not to skimp on the iron filtering. I found
replacement iron filters that fit our system and were a lot cheaper.
The filter size (xx microns) was larger on the replacements but they
seemed to work OK. A year later our softener failed and (ah hem) the
guy who fixed it politely pointed out to me all the iron that had

gunked
stuff up. So now I use the better filters and all has been well. The
water is visibly clearer too.


Bill, hes talking about a backwashed iron filter not disposable sediment
cartridges. But how do you filter ferrous iron with them?

You'll be much farther ahead with a periodic resin cleaner than sediment
prefiltration.

Gary
Quality Water Associates


  #4   Report Post  
Bill Seurer
 
Posts: n/a
Default Water softener and iron filter sanity check

Gary Slusser wrote:
Bill, hes talking about a backwashed iron filter not disposable sediment
cartridges.


OK.

But how do you filter ferrous iron with them?


One of those spiffy magnetic water treatment systems! Not only will it
fix the iron problem BUT his cancer fears are gone and his cats won't
cough up fur balls any more.

  #5   Report Post  
Gary Slusser
 
Posts: n/a
Default Water softener and iron filter sanity check


"Bill Seurer" Bill_AT_seurer.net wrote
Gary Slusser wrote:
Bill, hes talking about a backwashed iron filter not disposable

sediment
cartridges.


OK.

But how do you filter ferrous iron with them?


One of those spiffy magnetic water treatment systems! Not only will

it
fix the iron problem BUT his cancer fears are gone and his cats won't
cough up fur balls any more.


Now that's good. LOL




  #6   Report Post  
Gary Slusser
 
Posts: n/a
Default Water softener and iron filter sanity check


"Ben Sandee" wrote
Gary,

Thanks for the great information. I have a few follow-up questions

that
you may be able to answer:

Gary Slusser wrote:
If you have 2.5 ppm of iron any softener used will have to be able

to
deal with it for the long run or the resin will fail. Many softeners
that are built for that amount of iron would work for average
residential water volume; 3-4 people and no additional treated water
usage but... the pH is important. High pH makes ion exchange less

likely
to work over long time frames than lower pH; say less than 7.2 pH.


Any suggestions on how to get an unbiased test of our water (hardness,
iron and PH)? Are the water test kits at home improvement stores

(i.e.
Home Depot) reliable for this sort of situation or do we need to send
our water out to the lab? None of our quotes have thus far tested the
PH of the water.


You should be able to have any dealer, Sears or a lab test it. The test
kits you get at some stores are not as good as a dealer or lab. I
question anyone doing water tests to troubleshoot a softener and how
it's working without doing a pH test.

I usually don't suggest replacing equipment that is capable of being
rebuilt, which both controls on your present units may be but... the
brand you have is not conducive to being easily rebuilt and rebeded

with
new resin and mineral. And they want too much! They don't use

industry
standard opening tanks (2.5" x 8 thread/inch), they use 3/4"

fittings
with even smaller holes in their inlet diverter and distributor

tube.
Although you may have their original Fleck Controls 2500 based

valves
which are easily rebuilt with a piston and seal kit. They are very

good
controls. But you'd still have the old tanks.


Yes, I've been reading the archives of this group and it seems clear

to
me that Culligan is something *I* want to steer clear of because I

don't
like having my choices limited in the long term. If I were rich and
lazy I might just go with Culligan but unfortunately for me I'm only

one
of those (I'll let you guess which one).

And yes, you wouldn't need the iron
filter as long as your iron is not over 5 ppm and is all clear water
iron (as drawn, no discolored water) and faithfully followed my
instructions as to how to maintain the softener.


The water isn't discolored -- it looks clear in a glass but if you

spray
it into the air with a hose in sunlight you can see a slight red/brown
tint to the water. Is this clear "as drawn"?


That could be the sunlight. Draw some in a clear smooth glass and hold
it up to light or a window. As long as it is clear it's good. If it
discolors after a few minutes that means it will be fine too.

So, with the water test results, I'd also need to know the number of
people in the house.

Gary
Quality Water Associates

Thanks again!
Ben



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Clark W. Griswold, Jr.
 
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Default Water softener and iron filter sanity check

Ben Sandee wrote:

So, who's telling the truth? The indepdendent dealer has been around
for decades, several generations. My grandparents have a conditioner
(on city water) from them and have had no problems with them, so I am
inclined to trust them. I'd appreciate any suggestions on these subjects.


Both options sound absurdly expensive. You have an existing setup, so plumbing
connections should not be an issue. Go to Sears and buy a decent unit on sale
for $500 and install it yourself...

The concept of replacing the head when it wears out sounds bogus to me. Chances
are the resin tank will require changing at the same time, so you'd be paying
more than replacing the entire unit again. A decent quality single tank system
should last for 15-20 years given your level of hardness and number of people in
the house. Not worth investing $1000s of dollars.
  #8   Report Post  
Gary Slusser
 
Posts: n/a
Default Water softener and iron filter sanity check


"Clark W. Griswold, Jr." wrote
Ben Sandee wrote:

So, who's telling the truth? The indepdendent dealer has been around
for decades, several generations. My grandparents have a conditioner
(on city water) from them and have had no problems with them, so I am
inclined to trust them. I'd appreciate any suggestions on these

subjects.

Both options sound absurdly expensive. You have an existing setup, so

plumbing
connections should not be an issue. Go to Sears and buy a decent unit

on sale
for $500 and install it yourself...

The concept of replacing the head when it wears out sounds bogus to

me. Chances
are the resin tank will require changing at the same time, so you'd be

paying
more than replacing the entire unit again. A decent quality single

tank system
should last for 15-20 years given your level of hardness and number of

people in
the house. Not worth investing $1000s of dollars.


I think you need to do some research on the life span of the brand
you're suggesting he use on private well water. My experience says it's
about 4-6 years with very expensive service call and parts charges in
between. Not counting the months of aggravation until it is fixed and
eventually replaced. I've replaced many of them, more in the last few
years, in my 15 years as a water treatment dealer. That includes the
other mass marketed brands made by the same manufacturer (NorthStar,
Kenmore, GE, Morton, probably WalMart.com and some low priced Eco). I
have two of them here now.

I'm not sure you know what a new control valve and resin costs. I assume
you don't because if you did, you may have a different opinion than the
idea being bogus; or expensive, especially for DIYers.

I offer (both locally and by e-mail) a renew-it kit for most brands
whether they have non industry standard resin tanks/valves or not. I
have a North Star and Kenmore (Sears) here that are both less than 3
years old and I can put any model of any industry standard valve (Fleck,
Autotrol, Erie etc.) on them. That includes the other non-industry
standard brands I mentioned above.

Depending on the softener, the kit can include the choice of control
valve and type of by-pass valve, choice of distributor tube, a safety
brine system, brine well w/cap, choice of resin, gravel underbed, choice
of salt tank and a sch 80 PVC valve to tank adapter. The delivered kit
costs only a 1/3rd to 2/3rds of your sale price of $500.

So tell me, what goes wrong with a fiberglass mineral tank and
polyethylene salt tank? BTW, his Culligan softener and filter has/had
rubber lined, neoprene I think, steel tanks.

Many of the control valves independents sell can be rebuilt and will
last another 5-15 years. I've rebuilt Fleck built valves on Culligan and
no name equipment, both softeners and heavy mineral filters, that had
lasted 25 years without service. As far as I know they are still in
service. Many of the best known national brands have used or currently
use Fleck valves, and all off them are easily rebuilt for less than $150
and that would include a new motor in most cases. How could anyone go
wrong doing that? Especially with new factory warranties on controls
running 5 years and on tanks 10 years?

Gary
Quality Water Associates


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