Whole House Water Filters


I am looking for advice on water filters/softeners.
We live in Idaho. Our water isn't too bad. It is city water and has some slight taste to it. It is also somewhat hard (compared to our previous house in Colorado), but enough different that we can tell just in how our hair feels when it is washed.
Now we just bought a new house that is plumbed for a softener (probably just the hot water or water line that doesn't include the kitchen or refigerator lines). We would like to make the water taste better and perhaps be a little bit softer. Since we have been busy with other aspects of moving in, we haven't had a water test done yet.
I guess I am looking for advice on what we should be looking for and how to best go about it.
Thanks,
Jerry
For email replies, replace "junk1" with "jerry" in my posted email address.
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For taste, a whole house filter before the kitchen sink and refrigerator line will do the trick. Charcoal filter is good for a couple of months.
As for softeners, we use EcoWater at work and they have proven very reliable for the past 5 years.
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You might consider treating the two issues separately. For instance, a charcoal-based filter just for drinking water may be enough to deal with the taste. You can experiment cheaply by first trying a Brita jug. If you like the results, go bigger.
As far as water hardness, that can be divided into two issues:
- Does its "feel" really matter that much? If not, do nothing.
- Is the water hard enough to mess with the internal workings of faucets? You probably haven't been there long enough to find out. Ask a neighbor.
Here's an excerpt from my county's water quality report: " Water hardness is a measure of the mineral content of water. Our water, which has a Total Hardness of between 5.6 and 7.6 grains per gallon, is considered "moderately hard". By way of comparison, before they switched to MCWA, many local communities used ground water supplies with Total Hardness values of more than 20 grains per gallon."
Worst chore: I have to remove the shower head once or twice a year, soak it in hot vinegar, rinse it, and screw it back on. Based on how the faucets feel, I may have to take them apart and soak & scrub the cartridges soon. This is a once every two year thing.
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You are not aware of all the hidden costs of living with water with more than 3-4 gpg of hardness.
The biggest cost is the water heater, the additional fuel it costs and premature failure of either electric elements or oil and gas fired heaters. All fabrics washed in hard water wear out much sooner than if softened water is used. You use much more detergent, softening agents, cleansers, hand soaps, shampoo, skin cream and oils while suffering dry itchy skin and it takes more time to clean the water using appliances. Coffee pots and all other water using appliances fail much sooner on hard water than on soft water. All that costs more than the right softener and to feed it some salt every month or two.
To learn about correctly sizing a softener etc. www.qualitywaterassociates.com
Gary Quality Water Associates
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I've heard all this, Gary. It's odd, though:
- All fabrics? I have shirts that look new 10 years later. T-shirts, cotton dress shirts, polo shirts, flannel shirts, all of them. - My coffee maker's 5 years old. The previous one lasted 15 years. - Previous house: Washing machine went 20 years, and was there for 10 before we moved in. (This house is in the same water district as the previous one.) - 1/3 capful of laundry liquid works fine, not the 1/2 to full capful recommended on the bottle. - Previous house: Water heater lasted us 18 years, and 5 before we moved in.
As far as using a water softener, the main reason I've never considered one is that any time I've experienced water in a home where one is used, it feels like I'm washing with glycerine. It takes forever to wash off soap (yes, I use less in these situations). And, it tastes like crap.
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The slippery feeling is because the pores of your skin are clean and that allows the natural oils to come to the surface. And if "It takes forever to wash off soap", their softener isn't set up correctly or you would never be able to "wash off the soap". Possibly you just think you washed it off because you get used to the feeling but your mind won't accept that, so you remain anti-water softener be damned.
As far as taste, that's usually the mind at work too. The vast majority of people can not taste the difference between hard and softened waters but... good water has no taste, it's the things dissolved into water that gives it a good or bad taste.
BTY, it takes 21 days to make or break a good or bad habit.
Gary Quality Water Associates
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Agreed, but it *does* taste different to me, and it can't be the mind at work because like a good experiment, I haven't received any hints until I know for a fact that someone's house has a softener. Sometimes, I can tell by just washing my hands, other times by asking.
I've lived with naturally soft water (north shore of Nassau County, Long Island), and it's quite different.
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Yes we all tend to 'like' the water we grew up with and are familiar with but.. it's only because we accept it. Naturally soft water is not good water, it is low in TDS (total dissolved solids) and acidic (low ph) and has very little hardness in it. It causes metals to be dissolved in to the water like lead from old brass (prior to about 1990) and lead based solder (outlawed about 1990 in favor of 'lead free' brass and solder) along with copper from copper tubing. Acidic water causes pinhole water leaks in copper tubing.
So although it is a natural thing to do, comparing ion exchange softened water to naturally soft water is not a good/valid comparison. Softening water does not change the TDS or pH of the water although with high hardness (25 gpg+), the TDS can increase slightly.
And since you had naturally soft water, then you shouldn't like hard water at all. And 5-7 gpg isn't much harder than natrually soft water which can have the same or less hardness in it but the pH can be down around 5.8 to 6.5.
Gary Quality Water Associates
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What I meant about the naturally soft water is that it's different from what I experience in places with softeners. Obviously, there are degrees of softness/hardness, and I have no numbers, so all of this is meaningless. My only "somewhat in control" experience with a water softener was when I rented the 2nd floor of a house from a couple, where the husband agreed that the water felt beyond slimy - it felt sticky. He (or I) would tweak it down now and then, but his wife would notice and crank it again. We gave up.
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Naturally soft water is different from hard and softened water. In residential applications, water is either hard or soft and soft is considered 0 gpg of hardness; anything higher than 0 is hard water. I've enver haerd anyone call softened water sticky, hard water is though; "squeaky clean", really it isn't because the sticky is the residule flim hardwater leaves on everything it comes in contact with. Yes, the ladies love softened water. So does most others that have it and get used to it, they will fight if you try to take their softener away from them.
BTW, the taste of softened water is usually called flat or tasteless.
Gary Quality Water Associates
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wrote:

Gary, In a simple sentence tell me why water softened water isn't salty.
????
DEke
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I can taste the difference.
When I use potassium, the water tastes sweeter then when I use plain salt or no softener.

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dang, every month or two. I have to use a 40# bag every other week. I called my city water dept. a while ago and they said some low number, but not what unit of measurement and hung up..

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You can go to their web site and look up their water quality report. You want their highest hardness figure because using what is in the water at your house today, if you tested it yourself, and then they send you harder water for two months later, it messes up the softener. They usually use mg/l but some use ppm. They are the same measurement. You convert them to gpg by dividing the mg/l or ppm by 17.1.
I find that most people have smaller softeners than they should and that causes them to use more salt than a larger softener would. I.E. a 1 cuft (commonly referred to as a 32k) softener and you need say 24k of capacity for a regeneration every 3-4 days with a 1 day of reserve capacity so you'd have to set the salt dose at 9 lbs.. Now if you had bought a 1.5 cuft, 9 lbs gets you 30k of capacity (with a max up to 45k with 23 lbs of salt) and would give you a regeneration every 5-6 days (with a day''s reserve) OR... had you gone to a 2 cuft you could get a regeneration every 8 days and use only 7 lbs of salt and the control valve has variable reserve based on each day's use of over the last 21 days, Those are examples but actual figures. I sell many softeners and all of them except those on high iron water regenerate every 8 days and only use from 3 to 8 lbs per regeneration.
For more on salt efficiency, see the sizing page at; www.qualitywaterassociates.com
Gary Quality Water Associates
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My water softener is almost as big as my water heater. I think it is something like 36k. I can pour in 80-90 pounds of salt. (more then 2-40# bags) Unfortunately the hardness is soo high, that I have it set to 90% capacity. Is there any way to make it more efficient? I already have the salt efficiency mode on.
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I installed an osmossis filter from ebay for about $125 and swear by them. There is no better water filter available.
The only drawback is that it uses a little extra water in the process.
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