I am in the process of purchasing a home and have received a water
quality test result showing a colliform of 9 and e. coli of 0. The
home currently has a water softener. I have a few questions based upon
some research and assumptions:
I am assuming that drinking softened water is not safe because of the
increased sodium content. Thoughts?
My original thinking was that the best installation method would be:
However, I have seen that the recommended position to install the UV
disinfection device is after all other treatment (filter and
softener.) I can't be the only person in this position.
What has worked for others?
OK, that ascii image didn't work so hot. What I was trying to show was
a split after the UV, send hard water to a faucet at the kitchen sink
for drinking, send remaining through the softener and to all remaining
fixtures in the home.
I have well water. All my domestic water goes through the UV, and
then the softener, except that water going to exterior hose bibs is
not softened... no point in softening water for watering the lawn....
costs no more to treat one thousand gallon or one gallon with the UV
since it's on all the time. For drinking I use an RO (reverse
osmossis filter), which is not softened. However a properly
functioning water softener does not add enough salt to matter... I use
the RO because that water tastes better... that water also is
prefiltered with particulate and charcoal elements. One of the main
reasons for soft water is to save all household fixtures from
accumulating mineral deposits, and makes for much easier cleaning,
especially in dishwashers and clothes washers. The cost of salt is
negligible, costs less than the money you'll save on cleaning
Don't know. I have a well but have not tested water and don't treat
except for sediment filter.
But, I wonder what actual bacterial specs are. We don't like to think
that we are drinking any bacteria but I doubt if specs are zero. You
might try googling EPA specs for drinking water. Let us know what you
Another route would be just to discuss with someone that sells water
treatment systems and ask about specs.
Is the property anywhere near farms? If yes, did the water test look for
some of the most common pesticides & herbicides? If not, go back to square
one. A friend of mine just had her well water analyzed by a lab that does
NOT sell filtering equipment, and it's a horror show, apparently.
You want to put the UV filter after the softener. The main reason for
this is so the scale from the hard water that accumulates, also
accumulates on the UV bulb. This reduces the effectiveness of the UV
light, and it doesn't kill the bacteria the way it's supposed to.
Either way, be prepared to replace the bulb once a year to keep it
fresh. Just like when you only replace on bulb on your car and it's
much brighter than the old one, the UV isn't as strong over time, so
the bulb needs to be replaced.
I split the water line after the meter. Untreated water goes to the
outdoor faucets since they're used primarily for irrigation and
dog washing in warm weather (in winter they get washed in the laundry
tub). Softener runs on KCl -- costs more but it just doesn't make
sense to add sodium to the water then have to take diuretics to push
the excess out the kidneys (plus I tend to run low on potassium in
general). Drinking water goes through countless filters and a reverse
osmosis membrane before being piped to the special faucet in the
kitchen and the ice-maker in the refrigerator.
Know where your water comes from and where your wastes go.
If you haven't bought the house yet then make the seller fix or
replace the well. Don't bother with the UV light unless the aquifer
is contaminated and you really want to live in that neighborhood. At
least in my area, this is the seller's problem.
Make sure the final clean water sample is taken by someone other than
the seller. It's worth paying the testing company to send one of
their people out to take the sample.
The UV must be last in line so it gets the highest quality water or it
will fail. All UV lights have a minimum water quality requirement or
they are not to be used. Things like hardness, iron, TDS, manganese,
H2S, turbidity etc. are limited.
Th invisible 254.7 nm UV-C wave length light decreases over time, not
the visible light you might see on some UVs. Do not look directly at
the light form any UV, it will damage your eyes and you'll never feel
it. No bare skin exposure either, it will be the worst 'sunburn'
you've ever had or seen. UV lamps/bulbs rarely burn out but have a
usable life of 9000-10000 hours continuous operation or 2 years non
continuous operation. No fingerprints etc. on the quartz sleeve or the
lamp. When you service a UV light, you must sanitize/disinfect it and
all plumbing past the light.
The formula to find how much sodium is added by ion exchange softening
is 7.85 (mg/l) times the compensated hardness of the water.
Compensated hardness is ((4*iron) + (2*manganese)) +gpg hardness. I.E.
25 gpg*7.856.25. Most people will have 15 gpg or less hardness in
their water. A slice of white bread has 140-160 mg of sodium. A glass
of V-8 juice 560. Skim milk 530 etc.. And remember, the 196 or 118 mg
is per liter, roughly a quart of your softened water. How much of your
water do you drink? So, it is always better to soften all th ewater in
the house because you get few if any benefits by drinking hard water.
Some people use salt substitute potassium chloride. No cation resin is
made in the potassium form, only the sodium form. So potassium is less
efficient and depending on your salt dose effeciency, you will have to
increase the salt dose up to 30% to get the same K of capacity from
Labs sell water tests. So be careful of being sold more tests than you
need. And who knows water treatment needs better than a water
trewatment dealer? Those lab folks are salespeople too.... and when
you hear the price, think of their costs to do the tests. I can do a
Coliform bacteria test for a cost of <$2.00, although I don't do
testing of any kind anymore, as an independent water treatment dealer,
I did for 17 years (until 3 years ago). Hardness, iron, manganese,
chlorides, sulfates, pH, copper, etc. cost me less than $6.00 and 35
minutes including the report. And labs get a much lower price for the
chemicals etc. than me.
Quality Water Associates
Because mineral content is not necessarily dissolved, it consists in
large part of minute particulates in suspension, in effect forms a
cloud that blocks the UV... there should always be a proper
particulate filter immediately after the well and prior to any and all
treatment apparatus... not removing particulates previously will also
drastically reduce the life span/effectiveness of water softeners, RO
membranes, and other filtration devices such as charcoal odor filters.
Manufacturers of UV equipment can explain how UV water treatment
I have two homes on my property (two wells), both with UV treatment,
softener and other filtration mediums... I have servicing performed by
a professional, I discovered it costs about half the price of doing it
myself and I get a much better job... there are many little details
involved that the ordinary homeowner would not know about, especially
pertaining to disinfecting. Servicing both systems costs me just
under $200 a year, labor and materials... and all work and equipment
is guaranteed.. it's conforting to know that I can call 24/7 for any
problem, even to repair a leak. And UV lamps are kind of costly
(about $50 each), so if I damage one then it's on me, if the lamp
fails under service replacement costs me nothing... and it's easy to
damage a lamp. My systems also have a UV alarm, first time it went off
scared the crap out of me... didn't know it was the UV alarm.
The question was why a softener...
Hard water in a UV will form scale on the quartz sleeve because of the
heat in the UV. The scale will prevent the invisible UV-C wave length
light from penetrating into the water and the light can not work.
Iron, manganese, H2S gas etc. all convert to a particle inside the UV
and block the transmittance of the light through the quartz into the
water reducing the dose of UV, which prevents the light from working.
As to DIYers maintaining their own equipment. If you want to be a
DIYer, anyone can maintain their UV light, softener, filters etc. with
simple common household tools; except for Fleck control valves, you
need special Fleck tools. Installation is very simple and straight
forward plumbing. I include very in depth detailed instructions with
all the equipment I sell, and I sell at least one softener or other
large piece of equipment per day every day of the month to DIYers that
assemble, setup, install and maintain the equipment themselves as
opposed to paying service call charges and inflated parts and
equipment prices of a local dealer.
All that equipment has the same warranty as if I or any other dealer
sold and installed and maintained it (or not). UV lamps are 1 year,
the rest of the warranty on a light will vary up to 7 years. If you
drop and break a lamp, you should be responsible for its
replacement... That is not a warranty problem!
I sold a class A 12 gpm UV light yesterday with a spare quartz sleeve,
a clear housing prefilter with PR and a wrench delivered for $586.00.
He also has 8-10 ppm of Nitrate, so he bought a 2.5 cuft softener with
a Clack WS1 control and by-pass valve and 2.0 cuft of cation
(softening) resin and 1/2 cuft of Nitrate specific anion resin
delivered for $1150. Resin for Nitrate removal is very expensive.
Quality Water Associates
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