New Home, Hard Water, Solution?

Water analysis, treatment, and mineral recipes for optimum taste and equipment health.
luvmy40

#1: Post by luvmy40 »

We just bought a new(old) home with city water.

The analysis is 246 ppm TDS, 4 ppm chlorine, .4 ppm iron, chlorides unknown.

This is what I am considering:

For the whole house
https://www.homedepot.com/p/Rheem-Prefe ... /314448288

with the following added for drinking water, ice maker, and espresso machine
https://www.homedepot.com/p/APEC-Water- ... /206314523

Any thoughts, suggestions or alternatives?

I had Kinetico test the water and they offered a similar system at 12x the price.

PeetsFan
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#2: Post by PeetsFan »

Welcome to the Addiction.
I think RO isn't necessary. Your water is treated. RO is expensive, wasteful, and complicated to use.

What you need to do is soften and filter your water.

You can test your water's hardness very easily using a Hach 145300 Total Hardness Test Kit, Model 5-B. This will accurately test hardness 100 times. It looks a little complicated but it's very very simple: Measure water in glass, add tiny scoop of powder, swirl, then add drops of fluid until water turns color. Easy!

So you've tested hardness before and after your water softener. Next, you just need a good carbon filter to remove the chlorine (which you have) and other basic contaminants (which you probably don't have).

The problem with RO, besides cost/complexity/low flow, is that it over-filters the water, leaving it tasteless. RO water is also slightly corrosive; some minerals and hardness are good.

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homeburrero
Team HB

#3: Post by homeburrero »

Without having a ballpark average number for your tap water's hardness, alkalinity, and chloride levels I think it's premature to decide how to treat it for use in an espresso machine. I don't think you can find these numbers online, but a friendly call to your water authority often will do the trick. Be sure they know you are interested in chloride rather than chlorine (the latter is assumed to be there and can be handled by simple carbon filters). You can test yourself with drop titration kits like the one PeetsFan mentioned. The inexpensive API fishcare GH & KH kit will measure your hardness (GH) and alkalinity (KH). Hach makes the best kits, including a kit to measure chloride, but ideally you can get an idea about chloride from your water authority.

Youngstown, OH gets water from surface water that is slightly hard, but is lime softened at the treatment plant. It may need some softening if you want scale-free water in the espresso machine. Once you have numbers you can better decide about that. That water is also reported to have some chloride issues due to road salt runoff, and if those numbers are high, and if you want to protect a valuable espresso machine from corrosion, then you may need an RO unit with a remineralizer or a blending feature.
luvmy40 wrote:with the following added for drinking water, ice maker, and espresso machine
https://www.homedepot.com/p/APEC-Water- ... /206314523
PeetsFan wrote:The problem with RO, besides cost/complexity/low flow, is that it over-filters the water, leaving it tasteless. RO water is also slightly corrosive; some minerals and hardness are good.
The one you linked does have a calcite remineralizing cartridge that will add enough hardness and alkalinity to avoid corrosion issues. The simple calcite cartridge does not add much mineral, but is a good choice for this purpose because it is consistent and predictable -- no snake oil and no contents that might tend to over-correct the pH in an effort to please the 'alkaline water' crowd. The RO membrane will drop any chloride ion down to very low levels.

P.S.
This is some info I've found for what I think is your water source, but unfortunately lacks any chloride info. https://ohioauditor.gov/AuditSearch/Rep ... umbull.pdf
It indicates finished water with about 75 mg/L total hardness (52 mg/l calcium hardness) and about 39 mg/L alkalinity. Close to ideal, and actually a little softer than the SCAA standard. It might benefit by conventional softening if you wanted reliably scale-free water in your espresso machine. Avoid any WAC (decarbonizing) softener like the BWT bestmax or the Mavea/Brita Quell -- you don't want to reduce that alkalinity.
Pat
nínádiishʼnahgo gohwééh náshdlį́į́h

luvmy40 (original poster)

#4: Post by luvmy40 (original poster) »

I neglected to update my forum profile for my location. The new home is in Ravenna, OH. The Portage County Seat. I did run a softener and three stage under counter filter on my Youngstown water. My water in Ravenna is pretty good on PH, 7.8. The hardness is through the roof at about 250. I have not been able to find any information on chloride content. I think I m going to go ahead and install the equipment I linked to in the OP. It's not very expensive and the RO system has good reviews. The RO will only be used for espresso, ice and drinking water. I hate that it is so wasteful at 1/3 use to waste, but as I said, it won't see much volume.
homeburrero wrote:Without having a ballpark average number for your tap water's hardness, alkalinity, and chloride levels I think it's premature to decide how to treat it for use in an espresso machine. I don't think you can find these numbers online, but a friendly call to your water authority often will do the trick. Be sure they know you are interested in chloride rather than chlorine (the latter is assumed to be there and can be handled by simple carbon filters). You can test yourself with drop titration kits like the one PeetsFan mentioned. The inexpensive API fishcare GH & KH kit will measure your hardness (GH) and alkalinity (KH). Hach makes the best kits, including a kit to measure chloride, but ideally you can get an idea about chloride from your water authority.

Youngstown, OH gets water from surface water that is slightly hard, but is lime softened at the treatment plant. It may need some softening if you want scale-free water in the espresso machine. Once you have numbers you can better decide about that. That water is also reported to have some chloride issues due to road salt runoff, and if those numbers are high, and if you want to protect a valuable espresso machine from corrosion, then you may need an RO unit with a remineralizer or a blending feature.


The one you linked does have a calcite remineralizing cartridge that will add enough hardness and alkalinity to avoid corrosion issues. The simple calcite cartridge does not add much mineral, but is a good choice for this purpose because it is consistent and predictable -- no snake oil and no contents that might tend to over-correct the pH in an effort to please the 'alkaline water' crowd. The RO membrane will drop any chloride ion down to very low levels.

P.S.
This is some info I've found for what I think is your water source, but unfortunately lacks any chloride info. https://ohioauditor.gov/AuditSearch/Rep ... umbull.pdf
It indicates finished water with about 75 mg/L total hardness (52 mg/l calcium hardness) and about 39 mg/L alkalinity. Close to ideal, and actually a little softer than the SCAA standard. It might benefit by conventional softening if you wanted reliably scale-free water in your espresso machine. Avoid any WAC (decarbonizing) softener like the BWT bestmax or the Mavea/Brita Quell -- you don't want to reduce that alkalinity.

PeetsFan
Supporter ♡

#5: Post by PeetsFan »

homeburrero wrote:Without having a ballpark average number for your tap water's hardness, alkalinity, and chloride levels I think it's premature to decide how to treat it for use in an espresso machine. I don't think you can find these numbers online, but a friendly call to your water authority often will do the trick. Be sure they know you are interested in chloride rather than chlorine (the latter is assumed to be there and can be handled by simple carbon filters). You can test yourself with drop titration kits like the one PeetsFan mentioned. The inexpensive API fishcare GH & KH kit will measure your hardness (GH) and alkalinity (KH). Hach makes the best kits, including a kit to measure chloride, but ideally you can get an idea about chloride from your water authority.
Thank you so much! This subject is so complicated for me. You're a huge help to a lot of people and you deserve praise, accolades, and a huge pile of cash. I can help with the first two.

luvmy40 (original poster)

#6: Post by luvmy40 (original poster) »

I finally got the whole house softener installed. After the MFG. recommended decon and purge(add 3 oz. Clorox to regen and run 50 gal after initial regen), my test results are puzzling.

Pre softener, with the API GH/KH kit I had 217+ PPM GH and 107 ppm KH. Post softener. I have <18 ppm GH but 89.5 ppm KH.

How can the calcium level be higher than the general hardness?

I have a chloride test kit on the way.

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homeburrero
Team HB

#7: Post by homeburrero »

luvmy40 wrote:How can the calcium level be higher than the general hardness?
Be aware that KH titration kits just measure the alkalinity, so your numbers are right where you expect them. The GH says that your magnesium and calcium hardness is less than 18 ppm, so your softener did a proper job there, exchanging sodium for those hardness ions. The alkalinity (measured by the KH kit) stayed about the same, which is what you expect.

The terminology here is a source of confusion. KH stands for Karbonathärte, and that term, in addition to the term "carbonate hardness" has a very muddled definition. It is very often used as a synonym for the carbonate and bicarbonate measurement. Any drop titration kit that purports to measure KH, "carbonate hardness" or "temporary hardness" is actually measuring the alkalinity. In natural waters, the alkalinity is almost always the same as the true carbonate hardness (the amount of hardness cations that can be associated with carbonate and bicarbonate anions). But in softened water and in many recipe waters that may not be the case.

Many of us (myself included) tend to use 'KH' as a lazy shorthand for an alkalinity measure.


P.S.
Don't look in Wikipedia for a good definition of "carbonate hardness". It's currently a mess. Here's a good definition from chapter 16 of the Craft and Science of Coffee:
[snip] In this chapter the term "hardness" will be used to denote "total hardness," which is defined in accordance with worldwide industrial norms as
the sum of amounts or equivalent concentrations of calcium and magnesium. In contrast, "carbonate hardness" is defined by the maximum
amount of scale that can form for a given water composition, and is determined by the common minimum of total hardness and alkalinity,
whichever is lower. During scale formation both total hardness and alkalinity are reduced in equal amounts. Most natural water sources have
a total hardness that is higher than their alkalinity, as depicted in Fig. 16.2A where the carbonate hardness is equal to the alkalinity. However, water treated with a so-called softener that removes calcium or magnesium and replaces them with sodium or potassium has a reduced total hardness, without affecting the alkalinity. In this case, total hardness is lower than alkalinity and carbonate hardness is equal to total hardness. [/snip]
Pat
nínádiishʼnahgo gohwééh náshdlį́į́h

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luvmy40 (original poster)

#8: Post by luvmy40 (original poster) »

Thank you!

luvmy40 (original poster)

#9: Post by luvmy40 (original poster) »

The bad news is, I have 82 ppm CL according to the Chem World Chloride Test Kit that arrived today.

I will do another test to confirm, but it looks like I will definitely be needing an RO system with re mineralization.


ETA:

I tested again and got the same results. So I have a PH of 7.8 but my alkalinity level is very low and 82 ppm CL.