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Old 11-22-2010, 09:37 AM   #1
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orange water from softener


I have a two year old water softener that produces orange water. We have a well and I figured the well water was so loaded with iron that the softener couldn't handle it. But when I bypass the softener....clear water! Is my resin bad? The orange is worse following a regeneration, but lingers for days after. What is the softener doing?

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Old 11-22-2010, 02:25 PM   #2
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orange water from softener


Interesting question. I checked on "orange-colored water." The most common answer was rust, of course. Is there a possibility of iron pipes or fittings in your house that could be the source?

The Massachusettes water authority had this other reason:
Quote:
http://www.mass.gov/dep/water/drinking/color.htm

Another cause of brown or orange particles in the water is a broken water softener. Inside a water softener are many small, round beads. The mechanism that keeps these beads in the tank can break, releasing them into your water. These beads vary in size and color depending on the manufacturer; however, some commonly used beads are about the size of fish eggs and are brown or orange in color. If you see that these particles are uniform in size, shape, and color and you have a water softener; call your service agent for repairs.
Finally, and probably very unlikely, some microorganisms are colored or make colored slime. Most of the organisms are non-pathogenic (do not cause disease in normal people). Serratia is one such organism, but there are others. The orange color you see on lettuce can be due to these organisms. Maybe they get disturbed during the recycling process.

If it is due to softener particles, they will probably settle. If microorganisms, they will not settle or settle much slower because of their small size.

The simplest thing to do might be to test the orange water, not water directly from your pump, for iron. If that fails to show the cause, I would find a friend or medical lab with a microscope and have a look. University labs are usually much more accommodating to little projects like this than are commercial laboratories. The beads from the softener should be obvious. You may already have some of those culture units for testing wells. They have a small paddle with agar media on it that you just dip in the water and then incubate. Serratia and the organisms of potential interest here will grow quite well at room temperature or maybe a little warmer, such as 30C.

John

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Old 11-22-2010, 08:06 PM   #3
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orange water from softener


If it's resin then you can filter the water through a t-shirt and you will end up with some beads. They are slightly larger than grains of sand, I guess about the size of a ball point pen ball. There may be another possibility. If it's worse after you regen the softener then it could be iron if your softener is not rinsing properly in the regen. A softener goes through a regen cycle where it loads up the bed with a brine solution which causes it to dump all the hard minerals, then it displaces and rinses the bed removing them and the excess salt. If it's not properly rinsing it could still have the released iron inside (plus a lot of salt) which then goes into your pipes. I am not a domestic softener expert, but from my commercial experience it seems likely.
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Old 11-22-2010, 08:10 PM   #4
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orange water from softener


Test your water. I suspect that you have an iron problem. Then, adda couple teaspoons full of Iron Out or similar product to your brine tank, mix it in and run back to back manual regenerations.
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Old 11-23-2010, 04:24 PM   #5
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orange water from softener


Your softener resin is fouled with iron.

You should be regularly using a cleaning agent with the salt for regeneration. Salt is available with an iron cleaning additive, typically citric acid, and that used all the time will keep your resin clean with small amounts of iron. With larger amounts of iron you will need a stronger/larger amount of cleaner.

There are three chemicals widely used: citric acid, ResCare (phosphoric acid) and Iron Out/Super Iron out. Phosphoric acid is supplied as a liquid and can be used with an automatic dispenser. Citric acid and Iron Out are dry products.

For an initial cleaning, which may have to be repeated, follow the instructions on the Iron Out container. The containers sold in my area recommend 1 CUP of IO mixed with 1/2 gallon of water and added to the brine tank.

Once you get the resin cleaned establish a regular cleaning cycle.
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Old 11-23-2010, 07:34 PM   #6
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orange water from softener


Hey Bob, long time no hear from. How's life?

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