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Thread: Requesting cottage softener/filter setup suggestions

  1. #1
    Lazy Days is offline Junior Member
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    Default Requesting cottage softener/filter setup suggestions

    I have a weekend cottage that I am trying to decide on what approach I should take for water treatment.

    My current equipment is 18 yrs old and is clogged with iron. My system consists of a 1cu.ft. Birm iron filter, followed by a 1.4cu.ft (total) twin tank water softener. I have spent the better part of two days cleaning the control valves and mineral tanks with acid and a tooth brush. I would like to avoid a repeat of this. I also have a large manually operated calcite PH filter a neighbor gave me that I can add to the system. I believe it’s about 2 or 3cu.ft. size.

    I am looking for advice on what, if anything needs to be added to the system. What media should I use in the iron filter? I Birm the best choice? It seems to have a limited lifespan.

    My water is as follows:
    205ppm/12grs. Hardness as CaCO3
    1.01ppm, total manganese
    2.04ppm, total iron
    187ppm, TDS
    6.8 PH
    179ppm, alkalinity
    0.6ppm, tannic acid
    0ppm, H2S
    Trace, <500cfu/ml, anaerobic bacteria
    Absent, total coliform
    4ppm, dissolved oxygen
    11.5 gpm, flow rate at outside bib

    I have run several “3 jar tests” myself. What I have observed:
    Water has an orange color to it.
    It changes very little in color in two weeks, covered or uncovered
    Some small amount of orange settles to the bottom in two weeks
    Adding salt to the water appears to do nothing.
    Adding Clorox to the water will oxidize the iron in about 3 to 4 hours, most settles out in a week.
    Running water through coffee filter removes orange, but leaves slight yellow color in water
    Adding super iron out to water clears it up quickly

    Probably too much information.
    I would be thankful for your opinions.

  2. #2
    Akpsdvan is offline Senior Member
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    Part of the challenge is that you are only there for a day or two..
    The Birm and Calcite filters should be cleaning or backwashing about every other day or every 3 days ...
    Some of the build up in the valves is going to happen no matter how often they clean.

    There is no media that has unlimited life, all have some kind of span,, 5-10 years mostly if maintained correctly.

    The softener twin could be changed to a SXT , so that you can set it for gallons with a default X days.

    Keep the water flowing..

  3. #3
    Andy CWS is offline Moderator
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    Try by-passing the iron filter and see if the water is still red. Then try the softener. Some iron filter 'work' so well that they accummulate gobs of iron that never really gets adequately backwashed out.

    Letting systems sit for extended periods of time can be a problem, also.

    The softener might be rescued by putting iron out in the brine tank and do a couple of regens. With you iron levels, the BIRM iron filter may not even be needed with a twin softener.

    Two aspects about BIRM filters is: 1. they need at least 15% dissolved oxygen to work properly (not sure how you got 4ppm)--and no sulfur!!!, and 2. ample backwashing flow rate to lift (expansion) the bed to thoroughly clean out the iron and other matter it has removed from the source water. This is the biggest problem I have seen. A 1cuft media tank is probably 9" in diameter....is that right?

    To add air, you would need a venturi or air pump added. Be careful when adding a venturi thoigh; it will reduce your flow rate to about 5gpm max.

    I don't really see really see a need for the Calcite filter at only pH 6.8.

    My suggestion is to iron-out and sanitize the softener, first. With cottage use, I always recommend puttingit into backwash when you leave and again when you come back if more than a few weeks. Although your iron is high, it is not unmanagable. Use iron out or an iron cleansing salt.

    Andy Christensen, CWS-II

  4. #4
    Lazy Days is offline Junior Member
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    I do agree 10 years is about the max life of the Birm media. I really had no problems up until the last three years, or at least nothing that an extra regeneration of the softener wouldn’t cover up. I still had soft water, just orange soft water. The softener appears to do very little for ferric iron.

    I am trying to figure out if the tannin in my water is causing problems with the iron filter media. Would something like Pyrolox be more forgiving? Or should I be backwashing the filter before I leave on Sunday. Or should I replace the Birm media a little more often.

  5. #5
    Lazy Days is offline Junior Member
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    Andy

    Some iron filter 'work' so well that they accumulate gobs of iron that never really gets adequately backwashed out.

    This may be some of the problem. The tank and media was loaded with orange paste. The system has an inline air injector. The air injector does have a bypass, but I only use it for servicing the fickle thing.

    The softener might be rescued by putting iron out in the brine tank and do a couple of regens. With you iron levels, the BIRM iron filter may not even be needed with a twin softener.

    I tried that. Than I dumped the resin into two wheel barrels and let soak most of a day and overnight in acid. I than loaded all the resin into a one tank temporary softener. It removes most of the iron, but not all of it. I have sent the original softener valve on a round trip to Flag City for a rebuild.

    I was under the impression that a softener will not remove oxidized or colloidal iron. Am I wrong?


    Two aspects about BIRM filters is: 1. they need at least 15% dissolved oxygen to work properly (not sure how you got 4ppm)--and no sulfur!!!,

    I used an onsite test kit for PH, alkalinity, DO= 4ppm@10 degrees C = 35% (per the kit) I have not tested for sulfur, just H2S.

    2. ample backwashing flow rate to lift (expansion) the bed to thoroughly clean out the iron and other matter it has removed from the source water. This is the biggest problem I have seen. A 1cuft media tank is probably 9" in diameter....is that right?

    It is a 10” x 40 or 42” tall tank. If you’re right about the restriction of the air injector, that may be some of my problem. I removed the backwash flow control restrictor a few years back. That didn’t seem to help. I guess you cannot get out more than you put in!

    I don't really see really see a need for the Calcite filter at only pH 6.8.

    That may only be a snapshot in time. There are times that when flatware is left in the sink overnight, it is pitted in the morning. The PH tends to be lower in the summer with higher water usage.

  6. #6
    Akpsdvan is offline Senior Member
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    One of the things that can happen with a birm unit is that the back wash becomes to short for the cleaning cycle, it worked when it was installed, but now it needs double the time because of the iron that it has collected over time.
    One of the things that says that the system has not gotten a good back wash is that the water is discolored after a cleaning cycle, you are finishing what the unit should have done in the cleaning cycle.
    Try putting it into the backwash and letting it stay there for 3 times the normal amount.
    If it normally was 10 minutes then let it stay there for 30 minutes.

    There is a way of cleaning up a birm unit, but more of that later.

  7. #7
    Lazy Days is offline Junior Member
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    Akpsdvan,
    I like the” simply looking at the color of the output water” method. I will have to keep that in mind. I have probably killed my birm media however. I dumped the birm in a wheel barrel washed it until it was gray in color with a couple of pounds of super iron out. That didn’t help, but I was checking the water after the softener at the kitchen sink. That may have been a mistake. My birm is now in the landfill, and I am trying to decide what to replace it with. I have new softener resin and the calcite filter looks unused. Should I add ozone or peroxide injection to help the Birm. Would something like Filox be a better choice? Or maybe what I had would do just fine with a little better understanding of the process and the maintenance required.

  8. #8
    Akpsdvan is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lazy Days
    Akpsdvan,
    I like the” simply looking at the color of the output water” method. I will have to keep that in mind. I have probably killed my birm media however. I dumped the birm in a wheel barrel washed it until it was gray in color with a couple of pounds of super iron out. That didn’t help, but I was checking the water after the softener at the kitchen sink. That may have been a mistake. My birm is now in the landfill, and I am trying to decide what to replace it with. I have new softener resin and the calcite filter looks unused. Should I add ozone or peroxide injection to help the Birm. Would something like Filox be a better choice? Or maybe what I had would do just fine with a little better understanding of the process and the maintenance required.
    So you are looking for new media.. if the oxygen count is good then birm is a good replacement, if the oxygen count is a bit low then you will need to add air either with a micronizer or air pump..
    Setting the unit up on a more often than what might really be needed would be a good idea in that it will help keep the media clean and work the well while you are not there.
    Making sure that you are getting the say 6gpm on the backwash like you are to have is one thing to check once a year.. making sure that there is more than enough time in the backwash, if the pins are for 8 minutes, add to get 12 or 14 minutes so that the media has time to get a good work out.

    If the birm gets dirty then maybe some potassium permanganate as a reg agent.
    I have used the potassium perm in the past to clean up a birm unit and gotten a few more years out of it.

  9. #9
    Lazy Days is offline Junior Member
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    I have found the original information from when my “McClean Chem-Free” Birm iron filter that was installed in my cottage. I seem to be a little short on most requirements.
    Tannin: less than 0.5ppm, I have 0.6ppm
    Manganese: requires a PH of 8.2 and air injector when levels are above 0.2ppm, I have 1.01ppm with a PH of 6.8. (I will need to add corosex to the calcite filter to get the PH up to 8.2)
    Hydrogen Sulfide/Sulfur: can handle up to 3ppm with an “air to water” pressure tank and frequent backwashes, good news, I do not have Hydrogen Sulfide, but I have not tested for sulfur, yet.

    Akpsdvan, yes I need new media.
    From what I read, Birm, greensand, & Filox/Pyrolox/Catalox are all about the same, just different concentrations of manganese dioxide.
    Are any of these medias more tolerant of my low PH when removing manganese in the real world?
    Will potassium permanganate clean the tannin deposits off any of these medias and/or would something safer work just as well?

    Andy, if the flow rate is restricted to about 5gpm by the micronizer/Hydrocharger and I need to use the PH neutralizer, would you move the micronizer/Hydrocharger downstream of the PH neutralizer?

  10. #10
    Akpsdvan is offline Senior Member
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    If one is going to use air injection to get the Fe and Mn to drop out of the water then Filter Ag or Pumis is a good media to use. The dirtier it gets the better is works.
    It also was the primary media of the old Micro Dyn units from years ago.. only needed to be replace about every 15 years.
    micronizer/Hydrocharger works best with the flow rate from the well where it is at the highest flow, on the house side the flow may not get high enough to bring the air in.
    There is an air pump that is getting used more today because of the increased use of constant pressure well pumps, so that might be an idea if there is room for a tank with an air pump .

  11. #11
    Andy CWS is offline Moderator
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lazy Days
    \
    Andy, if the flow rate is restricted to about 5gpm by the micronizer/Hydrocharger and I need to use the PH neutralizer, would you move the micronizer/Hydrocharger downstream of the PH neutralizer?
    I agree with Akpsdvan that an air pump may be the proper upgrade. This would connected to your pressure switch and activated while your well pump is running. Better air concentration without water flow restriction. I really wouldn't want ait to be injected into the AN filter.

    I am not familar with using potperm as a regenerant to 'clean' the birm filter or what frequency that might require.

    The only time I have seen a venturi placed 'after' the pressure tank is when water is being fed to a boiler in conjunction with the home and it is placed after the boiler lead. The only time you get consistent flow rate needed to draw adequate air is during backwashing stages and this would be shortcutting your system's ability to work well; that is why venturis are placed before pressure tanks.

    I have wondered what would happen if two venturis on parallel well lines (teed and elbowed) and if that would provide enough flow rate.???

  12. #12
    Akpsdvan is offline Senior Member
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    There are ventures out there that can handle flows more than 5gpm, special order most of the time but they can be had..

    The potpurm is a one or two time deal , from the talks that I had years ago with suppliers and people at Birm that it could be used a couple of times but that was about it.

  13. #13
    Lazy Days is offline Junior Member
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    Do I have a general mis-understanding how an iron filter works?

    Do I need the dissolved oxygen to oxidize the iron and manganese in the holding tank?

    Or

    Does the iron filter media need the dissolved oxygen to do its thing?

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