Jon B
Reply Fri 7 Jan, 2011 09:45 pm
I'd be grateful for H2O Man's thoughts on this!

When I bought my home this fall, it came with a RainSoft "Silver Series" acid neutralizer that was installed in 2008. I have just discovered that it was incorrectly installed, and does not condition any of the downstairs cold water -- it just feeds the upstairs cold water, and hot water heater. I live alone and use only the downstairs plumbing, so all the cold water I use comes directly from the well.

That's a problem because lately I've encountered intermittent cloudy yellow water at the "cold" faucet in all downstairs fixtures. This appears just after the neutralizer back washes 120 gallons every other evening. (NOTE: the water's NOT cloudy wherever it's passed through the neutralizer!) The water gradually clears up over the next day. Yesterday, a plumber whom I brought in to check this problem, suggested that since my well is shallow (he actually ran it dry when flushing the pressure tank), the enormous water demand for the RainSoft back flush may be stirring up silt and causing the discoloration.

So here is my question: can I cut back on the interval of the RainSoft back washes? My home has only one inhabitant (me) who uses only the downstairs bathroom, so the neutralizer doesn't have to process the amount of water it was designed to. (Previously there were 6 people inhabiting both floors.) Throttling it back could help the 'dirty water' condition caused (maybe) by the neutralizer's excessive back wash demands. Can I make this adjustment myself, or should I call the RainSoft folks in? (If myself, then how does one gauge the "correct" interval between back washes, for my particular needs?)

Here are various facts: The neutralizer tank is 12" x 54" and its electro-mechanical control head ("Silver Series") bears the numbers RFC-25K. The controls are similar to those shown in this on-line manual: . (Can you refer me to an on-line manual for my unit, or is this the correct one?)

Here are recent water test results (taken at the cold water kitchen tap, which is fed directly from the well without going through the neutralizer): PH 6.00 SU; Manganese .05 mg/L; Iron, .462 mg/L; Hardness 10,0 mg/L. (Could the excess of iron be causing my cloudy yellow water? That's what the RainSoft people suggested, and offered to sell me a water softener for $3100.)

I'd appreciate any thoughts you might have on how to slow down the neutralizer's demands a bit, if you think its furious activity might cause my cloudy water. Of course, eventually I need to re-route the water lines so that the neutralizer processes ALL the house water. But since my crawl space has virtually no access, this will be an expensive proposition. And of course ultimately I need a new and deeper well. But, I'd like to do the inexpensive things first. Many thanks for your unbiased opinions -- everyone else seems to want to sell me more water systems!

Jon B

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Reply Sat 8 Jan, 2011 12:58 pm
When was the system rebed last?

I would make sure it was topped off and then set it to backwash once every 6 days.
Sorry, that's the best you can do with the silver series.

Make sure they mix in just a little mag oxide when it is rebed, this will help ensure a good Ph.

It sounds like they were try to back feed at the WH instead of running a full loop.
I would have a plumber look at the installation and see if it can be fixed easily.

You can pull up all but one of the 1-6 buttons and reduce the systems backwash frequency yourself, right now.

Also, $3600.00 for any softener these days is out of line.
Jon B
Reply Sat 8 Jan, 2011 03:25 pm
It was serviced ("rebed"?) by the local RainSoft dealer about a month ago (at a cost of $397 -- whew!). "Charged with mag. oxide". Also "P-12" whatever that is. It backwashes every other evening (I'm wondering if that's really necessary with only one person using only the downstairs hot water, since the cold water isn't treated!).

The previous owner (who had the neutralizer installed in '08) wanted it located in the laundry room next to the water heater. Only problem is, the water line there is not directly from the well. There are a couple of branches before that point, feeding other parts of the house. Which is why the neutralizer misses the entire downstairs cold water system!

So, you are saying that I can have it backwash once a week? I'd like to do that as a "test" to see if the cloudy water disappears. (To prove the theory that backwashing requires so much well water that it's stirring up the silt.)

Suppose that the "test" proves the theory -- can I leave the backwash on the once-a-week schedule without doing damage? Is there any way to gauge precisely how often it should backwash, given my variables?

By the way, RainSoft said that they'd put in a new electronic controller for $175, and that it would reduce the backwash quantity by half, over the present controller. Does that sound right to you?

Thanks for your thoughts on the softener (actually they were only going to charge $3100 but still....). And with a hardness of 10 mg I wonder if that's necessary. Or whether the iron level (.46 mg/L) justifies the softener.

Many thanks for giving me your thoughts!
Reply Sat 8 Jan, 2011 08:33 pm
@Jon B,
It was serviced ("rebed"?) by the local RainSoft dealer about a month ago (at a cost of $397 -- whew!).
"Charged with mag. oxide". Also "P-12" whatever that is.

The P-12 is an under sink drinking water filter - you replace the filter every 12-18 months.

So, you are saying that I can have it backwash once a week?
I'd like to do that as a "test" to see if the cloudy water disappears.

Yes. Pull all of the big numbered buttons up and then push one in.
It does not matter what number you push in, this will have the system back washing every 6th day. Try it.

By the way, RainSoft said that they'd put in a new electronic controller for $175, and that it would
reduce the backwash quantity by half, over the present controller. Does that sound right to you?

I have no idea what that could be, can you provide more information?

...with a hardness of 10 mg I wonder if that's necessary.
Or whether the iron level (.46 mg/L) justifies the softener.

I would soften the water, but I would look for a deal on a softener with a METERED Fleck 2510 STX control valve.
It should be about $1000.00 less than what RainSoft has quoted.

Many thanks for giving me your thoughts!

You are welcome.

Jon B
Reply Sun 9 Jan, 2011 09:16 pm
Thank you for this information.

I've followed your advice and set the timer for every 6th day. The water has stayed clear for a couple days now, so I'm beginning to think that the backwashing has itself caused the silt problem (by its 120-gallon demands on the well over a short period of time).

How do I determine whether the once-every-six-day schedule won't cause the neutralizer to malfunction?

I don't know much about the $175 control unit that the local RainSoft company suggested. I thought it was electronic (as opposed to mechanical, which is on there now). They said the electronic unit used a computer chip to determine the time (so that, if the power goes off, I don't have to reset the clock). I'm not sure why it is supposed to require only 60 gallons for backwash instead of the current 120 gallons.

You recommend softening the water. Why (if the hardness is only 10)? I'm tring to figure this "water thing" out! Again, I'll be grateful for your advice.
Reply Mon 10 Jan, 2011 07:11 am
@Jon B,
I you have copper pipes keep an eye out for blue green stains, this is one indication of a neutralizer not working.

Find out if the $175 will allow you to easily set time length and frequency of your backwash.

Have you ever had a water softener?
You have to feed the softener salt - this is a deal breaker for some.
A metered system will use less water and salt.
Reducing your waters hardness from 10 down to 0 is something you would notice right away in the shower, bath, washing clothes and dishes. The water heater will become more efficient over time as the calcium that has built up is flushed out.

Look into it.
Jon B
Reply Tue 11 Jan, 2011 09:42 am
Thank you for this latest information.

My notes on the "$175 unit" with which RainSoft is offering to replace the present neutralizer control unit, indicate that it's electronic as opposed to mechanical, and would "sense" what time it is (I wouldn't have to re-set after a power outage, for example). I'm fairly sure it would have the same backwash frequency / length controls as the present one does. And, RainSoft says that it will only use 60 gallons instead of 120, but I don't know why. (Maybe it senses when the flushed water is becoming "clean"?) With this in mind, would you replace your mechanical unit with this upgrade?

As to the water softener, I don't think the house has ever had one (I'm new here!) and I thought that a hardness of 10 mg was rather soft water! (I thought 0 - 60 was "soft" and so 10 would be "very soft"!) You're saying that I should aim for "zero"?

Will the softener also reduce the .462 iron rating down to less than .3? In your experience, does .462 indicate a huge problem, or one I could live with? (I see a very slight reddish stain in the toilet bowl, at the level of the water, which won't come out with scrubbing.)

Thank you for your help so far, and for you patience with all my questions. As a lifelong apartment dweller, this "well water thing" is totally new to me, as is home ownership!
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Reply Thu 13 Jan, 2011 07:25 am
The $175 kit is interesting, but I would want a picture and manufacturers specifications.

I was talking about Grains Per Gallon (GPG)
You would need to find out what you hardness is in GPG.
Jon B
Reply Thu 13 Jan, 2011 10:04 pm
The testing company said my hardness is 10 mg/L. I did a quick Google and discovered that one grain per gallon is equivalent to 17.1 mg/l. If so, I guess my hardness is 0.58 grains per gallon.

I'll investigate the $175 neutralizer control kit in more detail.

By the way, I took your advice and reduced the frequency of backwashes (in the neutralizer) to once every six days. After the last backwash the water turned its usual cloudy yellow for about a day. Since then (it's been about 4 days with no backwash) it has remained clear. This reinforces the plumber's theory that -- because my well is shallow -- the neutralizer's heavy and sudden demand for 120 gallons of backwash water every other day, is stirring up silt in the well. And that's evidently the cause of my "colorful water", not suspended iron as the local RainSoft dealer (with his $3100 softener) suggested.

Again, many thanks for your answers to my questions. I'll give you a well-deserved rest, until I can come up with more questions!
Reply Sat 15 Jan, 2011 08:54 am
@Jon B,
You may want to consider replacing the entire RainSoft system with an Acid Neutralizer built with a Fleck 2510 STX on a 10x54 Vortech tank.
The digital Fleck is extremely versatile and the Vortech tank does and excellent job of back-washing with less water usage.
Jon B
Reply Tue 18 Jan, 2011 11:01 pm
Thank you for this further suggestion. I'll take it all under advisement.

When RainSoft came for its first annual recharging of the existing neutralizer, here is what I was charged:
$162.00 (I guess this is labor for the recharge)
$85 "P-12" (I guess that's for replacement of the small filter for the under-the-kitchen-sink water filter, separate from the neutralizer)
$120.00 "recharge" ( is this the recharge material for inside the tank?)
$30 "mag oxide" (is this, too, something they put into the tank?)

Total charge for the visit was $397.
Does that seem reasonable? Could I have serviced this myself for less? Or, would the Fleck unit and Vortech tank end up costing me less at recharge time?

The RainSoft mechanical control does have settings for length of backwash time and amount of water (I think). Are you saying that the Fleck / Vortech combination puts an inherently smaller backwash load on the system? I hate to fork out another $2990 for a similar system unless it will result in savings that justify its expense.

By the way, the water from the well has a pH of 6.0 -- is that enough to justify a neutralizer at all, or is it something I can live with?
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