Help choosing water filtration system for Montreal water

Water analysis, treatment, and mineral recipes for optimum taste and equipment health.
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spiffdude

#1: Post by spiffdude »

Hi everyone,

I currently have a setup that consists in a 10inch softener cartridge (Pentek WS-10) followed by a carbon filter and then my pressure regulator.
Ran this with my Rocket for years, but still had to descale, as the mushroom in the E-61 would get some scale gump on it.

I've just tested the current cartridge in there, that is relativelty new (3 months, it's only used for the espresso machine) and there is something I don't get. Raw water registers at 120ppm GH and 80ppm KH which seems consistent with what i read on the internet regarding our water over here. Moderately hard.

When I test the water after the filters, I get 100ppm GH and 70ppm KH. Should the GH reading not be dropping more than that on a somewhat fresh filter? Indication that it is faulty, or is there something I don't understand.

This setup is about 10 years old, so I was wondering if I should upgrade it whith a BWT system (seems popular around town), Bestprotect or Bestmax.
Or I stick with my current setup and find a filter cartridge that actually works... I think this is still the way to go from my somewhat limited knowledge.

From water reports I found online here's my situation:

PH around 7.8 (my test strips confirm)
Total hardness 117 mg/L (my measurement with a drop test kit indicate 120)
Calcium 32 mg/L
Total solids (TDS?) 179 mg/L
Chlorides 26 mg/L
Alkalinity 93 mg/L

They also provide a LSI of -0.60 but i don't know at what temperature that is. I think it's average temps od 7 Celsius.

If i use an online calculator for my boiler water at 120 Celsius, it gives me 0.73 which would indicate light possible coating of scale
Damn this forum, I've had too m..muh...mah..mmmm..much caffeine!

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BaristaBoy E61

#2: Post by BaristaBoy E61 »

We're using a BWT BestMax Premium set at 3 on the BWT Besthead Flex filter head and it seems to be doing a very good job. We've had this for 2-years now.

If you do choose this system I would suggest purchasing the smallest filter cartridge as even this size, used only for home espresso will likely expire before it's exhausted.
"You didn't buy an Espresso Machine - You bought a Chemistry Set!"

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spiffdude (original poster)

#3: Post by spiffdude (original poster) »

Thanks for the feedback fellow Montrealer. Have you looked at the mushroom on your e61 group? Any scale? I'm curious to see if the system truly removes the need to descale.
Damn this forum, I've had too m..muh...mah..mmmm..much caffeine!

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BaristaBoy E61

#4: Post by BaristaBoy E61 replying to spiffdude »

No, I've never taken out the mushroom yet but have descaled our machine completely with citric acid a few times. Not something I'd want to do again and haven't had to since the installation of the BWT system.

Opening up the hot water spigot's strainer/aerator and examining the strainer screen on top will also tell you a lot about the condition of the steam boiler as to whether it is capturing any scale or not. After BWT - No Scale!
"You didn't buy an Espresso Machine - You bought a Chemistry Set!"

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homeburrero
Team HB

#5: Post by homeburrero »

spiffdude wrote:I think this is still the way to go from my somewhat limited knowledge.
That system looks to me like the best way to go given your water numbers. Something seems amiss -- it's a simple conventional sodium based cation exchange resin with no bypass.The Pentek WS-10 cartridge should leave your alkalinity (KH) unchanged and should drastically lower your total hardness (GH). For your 120 ppm (7 gpg) hardness water, this 750 grain filter should handle over 100 gallons before you start seeing your GH increase due to filter depletion.

Make sure the filter is properly seated in the housing, and after replacement do a good flush per filter installation instructions before pulling a sample for testing. Also make sure your GH test kit is not expired.

P.S.
My reasoning for preferring a conventional softener like this over a decarbonizer like the Bestmax is because your alkalinity is not that high and you have borderline high chloride in your water. A decarbonizer would reduce scale risk, but would also reduce your alkalinity and acidify the water somewhat, adding to your chloride corrosion risk.
Pat
nínádiishʼnahgo gohwééh náshdlį́į́h

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spiffdude (original poster)

#6: Post by spiffdude (original poster) »

Thanks Pat, I figured dropping the alkalinity by using the Bestmax was not ideal given the chloride that's getting close to 30 mg/L, which seems to be the limit of most manufacturers.

The KH reading I got seems ok, between 70 and 80, there is a one drop error. Possibly human error on my part :oops:
The GH reading is leaving me scratching my head. I think I'll order a new cartridge just to be safe and test carefully again.

The test kit is new, but i'll check its expiration date, good point.

I've read some reviews on amazon that certain users did not see a drop in GH with this cartridge, maybe a bad batch where water is bypassing the softening media... Or a gasket issue as you mention. Or something wrong wit the head, but that seems like a solid piece of plastic so I can't imagine what could go wrong there.

I will report back when i've tested more!
My Profitec Pro 800 is coming in today, i'll need to feed it bottled water (we have a brand here that meets non scaling criteria per Jim's water FAQ) while I sort this out.
Damn this forum, I've had too m..muh...mah..mmmm..much caffeine!

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spiffdude (original poster)

#7: Post by spiffdude (original poster) »

Well, still stumped.

I installed a new Pentek WS-10, took the time to clean everything, make sure my filter heads are aligned in the right direction (in-out)(in-out) and made sure the filter is also in the correct orientation. Flushed as recommended per the instructions.
I didn't change the carbon filer as it's relatively fresh, only 3 months in.

I'm still reading 100 mg/L GH at the output, raw water still registering as 120 mg/L...
My test kit is good until 04/2025. It's a aquarium tritation kit, should be fairly accurate I suppose.

I guess the next step is to change brands of filter in the hopes that something else will perform better. Or ditch this setup and get something new, but using a traditional sodium exchange so as to not drop Alkalinity.

A few pics to keep this interesting:

The new Profitec Pro 800 sitting on the counter. I'm feeding it bottled water that should not scale according to its composition.

This is the filter setup. Water from mains, into housing with softener cartridge, into housing with carbon filter cartridge, into pressure regulator and then to the machine or purge.



And here is my test setup. People always tell me our kitchen looks like a lab LoL.

Damn this forum, I've had too m..muh...mah..mmmm..much caffeine!

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homeburrero
Team HB

#8: Post by homeburrero »

Something is wrong here. This type of filter should take water with 300 ppm as CaCO3 of hardness down below 20 ppm until it is depleted. I suppose that defective cap might render it as ineffective as what you measured, and Amazon reviews indicate that some of these had bad caps. We once had a user that removed and tossed the end gaskets before installing, and that would of course make it very ineffective. I think you should contact your vendor to get a refund and let them know they may have a bad batch.

As far as I know, none of these cartridges are NSF 44 certified, but your Pentek/Pentair should be a reputable brand. Of the HB sponsors, Chris Coffee is one who sells 10" generic cation softeners that fit your housing.
Pat
nínádiishʼnahgo gohwééh náshdlį́į́h

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spiffdude (original poster)

#9: Post by spiffdude (original poster) »

Agreed.

And just to reassure you, I didn't toss the rubber gaskets. I studied in mechanical engineering so I know a sealing component when I see one LoL. I could undertstand someone non technical making such a mistake.
Damn this forum, I've had too m..muh...mah..mmmm..much caffeine!

baldheadracing
Team HB

#10: Post by baldheadracing »

I'd try a different test kit and/or a TDS meter.
-"Good quality brings happiness as you use it" - Nobuho Miya, Kamasada