Author Topic: Whole house filter plus softener necessary?  (Read 6748 times)

ketchup

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Whole house filter plus softener necessary?
« on: April 27, 2013, 12:23:10 PM »
Greetings, all.  I am in the process of planning out renovations on my little rental house before I rent it out.  A big thing I need to do is filter the water in some way.

It has well water.  Pretty bad well water.  It tastes terrible, and the toilet/shower get rust stains from how hard it is.  Also, it tends to have a pretty bad "rotten egg" hydrogen sulfide smell when run for more than a few seconds.  It's far from ideal.  We lived there for a year and got by on bottled water for ourselves and a Britta pitcher for the dogs and for cooking.  My girlfriend and her sister showered at the gym whenever possible, because apparently hard water is bad for hair. I didn't notice, but I have Y chromosomes, so I guess that explains that.  The plumbing from what I can tell is PVC, so I shouldn't have to worry about rusty pipes.

In any case, something needs to be done about the water before I can rent this place out.

This whole house filter gets amazing reviews: http://www.lowes.com/pd_31217-43353-WHELJ1_4294822071%2B4294819817%2B4294821330__?productId=1082883&Ns=p_product_qty_sales_dollar|1&pl=1&currentURL=%3FNs%3Dp_product_qty_sales_dollar|1&facetInfo=Whole%20house|Complete%20system and is quite cheap compared to many other options.

Then my concern becomes whether I should put in a softener in addition. When I used a home water test kit, all the levels were high but well within safe levels, with the hardness being off the charts.

My issue then starts to also involve space.  I don't have a lot of space for this by the water tank.

I'm no plumber.  Are there 1001 reasons why putting a filter/softener in the attic would be a Really Bad Idea, or could that work?  That seems to be where I could put this if I had to use more space.  I can post pictures later, but at the moment the well comes into the house right into a kitchen cabinet with the tank (for pressure) right there without much space for anything else.  No basement.  Also, I'm on a septic tank in addition to well, no idea how all this will play with it.  My research all seems to be contradictory.

Any suggestions?

James

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Re: Whole house filter plus softener necessary?
« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2013, 12:47:50 PM »
One thing I did was invite a local water conditioning company (I used culligan) to test the water and make a recommendation. I told them I wasn't sure I would use their services in advance, that I wanted to find out what they recommend and what it would cost. You can pick their brain about your particular issues and find out how big of a cost it would be to use their services. Once you have a price you can decide if that is too expensive and what you might be able to do on your own. They would also have advice about the attic idea.


I don't see any huge problem with the attic that couldn't be overcome, but I'm not sure it would be worth the space savings. You would need a nice deep pan under the units, with an alarm to sense for water if something leaked. It would also need to support the weight, which can be significant if the conditioner or softener is large. You would also need to drain the waste water if the softener or conditioner rinsed itself out occasionally. Unless space is at a huge premium there are probably better options, maybe a solid shelf to use more vertical space the the area you have available?

Nords

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Re: Whole house filter plus softener necessary?
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2013, 12:35:10 AM »
This whole house filter gets amazing reviews: http://www.lowes.com/pd_31217-43353-WHELJ1_4294822071%2B4294819817%2B4294821330__?productId=1082883&Ns=p_product_qty_sales_dollar|1&pl=1&currentURL=%3FNs%3Dp_product_qty_sales_dollar|1&facetInfo=Whole%20house|Complete%20system and is quite cheap compared to many other options.
Then my concern becomes whether I should put in a softener in addition. When I used a home water test kit, all the levels were high but well within safe levels, with the hardness being off the charts.
I've installed two water conditioners, and the ones in the "related items" column of your link are worth considering instead of the filter.

The Lowes product you linked is basically an activated charcoal filter.  It's a really big one, and it backflushes to renew itself, but all it's designed to do is to filter out sediment and the odors.  It won't help with dissolved minerals.

If you install a water conditioner (a water softener) instead of the filter, you'll get more for your money:
http://www.lowes.com/ProductDisplay?partNumber=416876-43353-WHES44&langId=-1&storeId=10151&productId=3824565&catalogId=10051&cmRelshp=rel&rel=nofollow&cId=PDIO1

The ion-exchange resin will replace the calcium and magnesium minerals in the water with sodium ions that you can't taste or feel.  (The water is soft enough to feel slippery.)  The resin also provides a good bit of mechanical filtering and may eliminate the odor.  Best of all, you can add Iron-Out powder to the container along with your 40-pound bags of salt.

It'll eliminate the mineral buildup in your piping, around your faucets, and on your toilets.  Your sinks, toilets, and tubs will need less cleaning (and they'll clean more easily).  You'll use a lot less soap, shampoo, dishwashing powder, and laundry detergent. 

I second James' recommendation for a water conditioning company.  They'll check the pH and let you know if you need to neutralize any acidity with a sodium hydroxide (lye) injection system, and whether you should also install a charcoal canister filter system.  They'll be able to find a system that fits in your available space.

If you elect to skip the conditioners/filters then a much cheaper option for drinking water is a reverse osmosis purifier under your kitchen sink.  But of course that just works for one faucet, not the whole house.

This whole house filter gets amazing reviews:
I'm no plumber.  Are there 1001 reasons why putting a filter/softener in the attic would be a Really Bad Idea, or could that work?  That seems to be where I could put this if I had to use more space.  I can post pictures later, but at the moment the well comes into the house right into a kitchen cabinet with the tank (for pressure) right there without much space for anything else.  No basement.  Also, I'm on a septic tank in addition to well, no idea how all this will play with it.  My research all seems to be contradictory.
It's a great idea... if you can guarantee that any leaks will go somewhere other than on the attic floor and then through the ceiling of the floor below.  I've seen a lot of attic-mounted air-conditioning systems that eventually developed plugged condensate drains, so they drained to other (very damaging) locations.

I doubt that your attic has joists/trusses strong enough to support the weight of a filter/conditioner filled with water. 

Oh, and as long as you don't live in an area that has earthquakes, hurricanes, or tornadoes!

The ion-exchange resin water conditioner plays well with septic tanks. 

Russ

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Re: Whole house filter plus softener necessary?
« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2013, 09:08:22 AM »
In my experience with well water, the softener (conditioner) is the first step. That'll take care of the minerals, which give you the big problems of rust and mineral deposits in your plumbing. If that doesn't take enough of the odor/taste out as well (which it might) then a secondary filter is in order, at least for drinking water. The way they have it set up at my parents' house is a softener for the whole house, then a reverse-osmosis / charcoal combo filter thing which is routed to a secondary "drinking water" tap at the kitchen sink, just like Nords described. That's what fits their needs, but everyone's situation is different. You might elect to go full-house for the filter as well if you feel that it's worth it. I'll third James's recommendation of talking to a water conditioning company, or at least picking up a kit (if they exist at a reasonable price) to do those tests yourself. The company will also be able to help you figure out how much capacity you need and help with any plumbing issues.

AFAIK everything my parents use works with the septic system. The two big things that will break a system are (a) something that kills the bacteria in the tank, or (b) something difficult to decompose (e.g. grease, detergents) that gets past the tank and into the leach field. Maybe charcoal does one of those things? I can't imagine a scenario where a bunch of charcoal flushes forward through your drinking water though... it's usually supposed to stay put in the filter. If you have questions on a specific system you could call a septic repair company, the health department, or the building department, and someone will probably be able to give you an answer

ketchup

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Re: Whole house filter plus softener necessary?
« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2013, 10:06:27 AM »
Thanks for all the input everyone!

I think I will call Culligan (I've worked with them before at work) and see what they have to say.

This is the (small) amount of space I really have to deal with:

The line from the well comes in on the right side of that cabinet, and then from the tank goes up into the attic and from there to the water heater and bedroom/bathroom.  There really isn't too much in the way of plumbing in this house.