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"Hard" water to the kitchen sink?

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by jtp10181, Apr 26, 2011.

  1. jtp10181

    jtp10181 Minister of Fire

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    I have city water, and also a water softener because the water here is terribly hard.

    So I replaced my water heater myself not too long ago and in the process I noticed that my kitchen sink and ice machine both have their cold water supplies coming off the "Hard" water pipe which is running the the outside hose bib. I had noticed in the past that the kitchen sink gets scale buildup around the faucet and also the ice seems to have a lot of deposits in it. I traced the lines and found all the other cold water pipes in the house are "Soft" water.

    Any reason for this? Or just idiot plumbers? I would like to fix it, but thought maybe there was some reason for this.

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  2. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    I think the softener adds some sodium to the water.
  3. jtp10181

    jtp10181 Minister of Fire

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    Yes, which I considered could be a valid reason why one would want the un-softened water at the kitchen sink, although it is only the cold side of the faucet. Maybe this is why I remember hearing the myth that cold water boils faster than hot water from the faucet.

    The water is so bad though, the softener only puts a dent in it.

    Our water is so hard, if you blast the hot water (this is after the softener) in the laundry tub into a bucket there is sediment in the water that has precipitated out. I also once microwaved a glass measuring cup with water a little too long and this also caused some deposits to precipitate out to the bottom of the glass.

    I supposed I should point out that I have taken college level Chemistry and Physics classes, so I understand the principles behind how everything works.

    Anyone else want to check their pipes and tell me if their kitchen is on softened water or not?
  4. benjamin

    benjamin Minister of Fire

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    That's pretty unusual to have only the hot water on the softener. Usually it's just the kitchen cold and the hose bibs that are unsoftened.

    If you're getting that much hardness in your hot water then the softener is not working very well. Softeners that are working have no problem with hardness, it's the iron, maganese that are tough, which you shouldn't have in Madison.
  5. jimbom

    jimbom Combustion Analyzer

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    We have an un-softened drinking water tap in the kitchen sink. Little less sodium. Not significant in my opinion.

    Our ice maker is tapped off a hot water line. Hot water tank takes out any sediment that might otherwise show up in the ice. This setup is fairly common.

    EPA has a site for city water quality tests. If your town is not listed, your state will likely have the annual report online. It will list the hardness of your water. That will help with setting the water softener.

    http://cfpub.epa.gov/safewater/ccr/index.cfm

    From your posts, sounds like you might need a sediment filter.
  6. jtp10181

    jtp10181 Minister of Fire

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    I have cold water on the softener, for all the other sinks, showers and appliances in the house, just not the kitchen sink and ice machine. All the hot water in the house is softened, as it goes through the softener before the DHW.

    I believe I live near the well that has been having issues with manganese, maybe that is what is precipitating out. All I have tested the hardness with is the kit for my fish tank. Even after a full water change with bathroom sink water, the hardness is off the chart which is over 300 hardness (GH) ppm, 300 alkalinity (KH) ppm and between 7.8 and 8.4 pH

    I am able to notice in the shower when the softener runs out of salt, so I know it is doing something. Not really sure how to determine if it is working properly or not, all the values seem to be set correctly. If I increase it much more the water starts to get slippery which I know means it is over softened. So maybe the hardness this test kit is picking up is deposits that a normal softener can not handle very well?

    I really would like to get an all new system which does not waste so much water and salt, but I will not really be able to afford any extra expenses for about the next 5 years. I would probably have to resort to just turning the thing off it is was broken beyond my own repair.

    Anyway, I think you answered my question, that the kitchen sink is usually not on soft water. But any other education on my questions about the water softener would be helpful, it is one of the few remaining mysteries of home ownership for me.

    ------
    JimboM, you posted as I was typing. Thanks for the info, I will check it out tomorrow.

    I am curious on this hot water for the ice maker now, because this could be the ticket to getting some nice clean ice. Right now I mostly use it just for the cooler, because if it sits in the freezer for very long it gets really gross looking and as I said it makes the water taste funny as it melts.

    I have also thought about doing some sort of an in-line filter in the basement which would feed the ice maker, and an extra cold water tap at the kitchen sink for really clean drinking water.
  7. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    My whole house has soft water to include the outside hose bibs.

    Softener does add a small degree of sodium. They say for avg hardness. one glass of water equal to slice of bread.

    Could be a problem if you have extremely hard water or reduced sodium diet but for most situations it's not a problem.

    It is not possible to "oversoften" the water. It should feel "slippery" if the softener is working correctly. All the salt does it clean the resin bed.

    Don't know much salt you use, but I have a bit harder water at my place and I go though about a bag every 2 months.
  8. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    I have soft water to all inside water; hard water at the hose bibs.
    My softener, about 6 years old now, measures flow and calculates optimimum regen date/time.
    I bet the new ones are better at conserving salt; do they actually sense hardness now?
    I still have to make manual adjustments for setup, based on hardness.
  9. jensent

    jensent Member

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    JTP
    My Uncle who was an M.D. in Middleton,Wi. had a third faucet on his kitchen sink for cold unsoftened water for drinking. He thought most everyone would benefit from a salt restricted diet. When we could afford to add a softener to our water system I just set it up to soften the hot side. That was 39yrs ago and it has worked fine. Everyone is happy with it.
    Tom
  10. woodchip

    woodchip Minister of Fire

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    I'm not overly mad on drinking water that has been through a softener for the same reason, there has to be some salt residue in the water which is bad for you.
  11. wannabegreener

    wannabegreener Member

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    all of my interior water is softened and all of the exterior water is not. My water has high TDS (total dissolved solids) and makes the water taste funny. This is before the softener. In order to drink my water, I had to add a Reverse Osmosis (RO). I use this water to drink, for the ice maker, and for cooking. It basically passes all of the water through a special membrane to take out a lot of impurities. The water out of that faucet is great. They are pricey, but I no longer need to buy bottled water.
  12. joefrompa

    joefrompa New Member

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    Theory - people are more satisfied washing dishes with hard water (which quickly removes the slippery feeling of soap residue) rather than soft.

    Just a thought.
  13. woodchip

    woodchip Minister of Fire

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    I prefer naturally soft water, rainwater is perfect for washing, easy to boil some on the woodburner in winter.
    It's also great for washing your hair, and it's cheaper because you need less soap....... ;-)
  14. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    Not many folks want to wash themselves with birdpoop water.
  15. heat seeker

    heat seeker Minister of Fire

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    I understand the desire to reduce salt intake, but most of the food we buy has large amounts of salt in it. The salt in the softened water is probably small in comparison. Anyone know the numbers?
  16. benjamin

    benjamin Minister of Fire

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    Somebody mentioned a slice of bread as a comparison for the amount of sodium in softened water. I don't know the figure but I've always heard it's insignificant unless you have special needs. Softened water can be significantly more corrosive, maybe that's only if the softener isn't set right.

    I'll take the bird poo water any day. There are "roof washers" that waste the first rainwater off of a roof, and then the water sits in a tank to settle out the dust. If you prefer not to feel the soap you could probably add some chalk to your rinse water for dishes or shower water. Personally I'd take the slippery feel over chalked up glasses, toilets, showers and clothes.
  17. jtp10181

    jtp10181 Minister of Fire

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    The dishwasher is plumbed to hot water, which is softened. If I let the softener run out then all the dishes come out looking like crap with white powder all over everything.

    The hard water removes the slippery feeling of soap because the minerals that cause the hardness bond with the soap and cause soap scum. Which is not only gross, but also reduces how well the soap works. I don't really enjoy feeling sticky after a shower.

    I will take the soft water any day.

    Anyway, I bought some more salt finally and increased the salt dose setting to 8.5 with a hardness setting of 24. If I am understanding what I am reading correctly elsewhere the only setting that should effect hardness would be the sale dose. I think my softener uses the hardness setting and the capacity inputted to calculate how often to Regen. It has a capacity counter that seems to count down, and I assume when it gets within a certain threshold it does a Regen at the programmed time of 2am.

    I just need to find my last water report and set the hardness correctly so I wont be wasting salt and water by re-genning too much and I think I will have that all setup good.

    Then I just need to decide if I want to switch the sink to the soft water. I am leaning towards doing this, because currently I get scale build up around this faucet and as I said before my ice gets really gross. I might switch it over in a way so it could be switch back if needed. Shark Bite plumbing fittings are great. Maybe there is a Y fitting that can only be open on one side at a time, I could make it so it can be switched over easily.

    Now that I'm thinking about water, I should drain out part of my water heater to get rid of the debris in the bottom. The owners manual says to do it every month? Maybe every couple months. Old DHW had no anode in it, and I never drained it. Tank rotted through and it was only about 10 years old (installed when the place was built).
  18. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    8mg sodium per liter per grain.

    So 25gpg water, 1 liter would be 200m sodium... about 1 slice of bread.

    Probably what I would do if water to drink with sodium is an issue is either put a reverse osmosis filter under sink cupboard or install small bar sink that isn't hooked to softener.

    I have 25-30gpg water here. I didn't put softener in right away and in ~one year the toilets were clogging (where they fill) showers looked terrible from the hard water residue, clothes was fading very badly and stuff like towels were stiff like boards, even with fabric softener. Dishwasher stopped working. Sure it would run and spray water on the dished, but they came out almost as dirty as they went in.

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