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Furnace Question

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by wg_bent, Apr 19, 2006.

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  1. cbrodsky

    cbrodsky Member

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    Loc:
    Millbrook, NY
    Do you have a water softener? We were actually able to reverse the first year and a half of damage/build up to ours after putting it in. After a year or so, we were having a lot of problems with crud in the hot water line building up and sometimes flaking off and plugging our shower head and faucets. About 6 months after using the water softener, the problem was completely eradicated and hot water delivery was back to normal.

    Even the nastiest scale build up is soluble in soft water to some degree... even if at a very slow rate. With a tankless coil, you are regularly refreshing soft mineral free water into your heating coil and letting it sit for hours at a time at high temperature. (heck almost anything is soluble in water to some degree given enough time!) This might be a gentle approach to slowly reversing the damage. Not to mention many other benefits like using a fraction of the detergents you used to use, glass that stays really clean, etc... That was one of the best benefits - we had to use really nasty glass cleaning solution once a month or so to get the mineral buildup off our shower glass. Haven't used it since.

    -Colin

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  2. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    Dec 5, 2005
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    Sand Lake, NY
    Yes, we love the softener too - used to have to clean showers well with corrosive Tilex, etc - Now, no need.

    Question though: How salty is that, and how bad/good to drink? We're not sensitive to salt, and don't taste it. Heard it's not good for the house plants. Don't have a separate faucet in the house for untreated water: needed/recommended???
  3. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    I'm not entirely clear on the chemistry involved, but my understanding is that the salt never actually contacts potable water. Somehow the salt extracts the minerals and the whole works is washed into the sewer. If you have any concerns about a water softener, it ought to be that they increase your water usage and put salt into the environment.

    You could probably argue that you use less soft water than hard water (fewer re-washes with the dishwasher, more efficient showers, etc.), so maybe it cancels out. I don't know if municipal water treatment plants and systems can separate the salt from the waste water before it is returned to the environment or not. It definitely goes back into the environment if you have a septic tank.
  4. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
    Sand Lake, NY
    I have a gut feeling that the new(er) computer controls require less backflushing.
    Supposedly the product water does get a little saltier.
  5. cbrodsky

    cbrodsky Member

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    Loc:
    Millbrook, NY
    Eric's description is correct. There is a matrix in the unit that extracts minerals out of water as it flows through it. This is a reversible process - to reverse it, saltwater is flushed backwards across it and discharged down the drain, and it is then rinsed. This is usually done in the middle of the night and during this 1-2 hour period, any demand for water automatically bypasses the softener. So once the matrix "fills up" with minerals, it cleans it using salt. Modern softeners will monitor the number of gallons that flow through the matrix, and you teach it what the hardness level is in your well water. This enables a simple calculation to determine when the matrix will "fill up" and then when that is reached, the next night it will do this saltwater cleaning process. It is very infrequent - with our settings, we need to run it after every ~3000 gallons of water that flows through based on our hardness settings. Older units were not this sophisitcated and "cleaned" it more than necessary. I suspect they may also have not done a good job of rinsing salt after the cleaning process.

    For the environmental impact, there are indeed tradeoffs - you eliminate some harsher chemical usage in favor of salt. For our two person household, we use about 2 bags of salt per year.

    -Colin
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