St. Louis Water Report and Plumbing Thoughts - Page 3

Water analysis, treatment, and mineral recipes for optimum taste and equipment health.
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homeburrero
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#21: Post by homeburrero »

I think that both Pressino and moodyerdoc have valid although opposing recommendations.

Re the need for RO to remove that chloride: Your chloride is borderline at around 30 mg/L, and the (overly simplistic) La Marzocco advice would advise RO + remin at 31 mg/L but not at 29 mg/L. Nothing magic happens at 30 mg/L, it's just a reasonable cutoff value they picked. Some (e.g. Synesso) would recommend RO if the chloride is above 15 mg/L. If you have a valuable or vintage machine that you want to use for years with no worry about chloride corrosion then I'd say go with RO and remin.

moodyerdoc's point about tolerating more chloride if your water has reasonable alkalinity is also valid, and your alkalinity, at 50 mg/L as CaCO3 is good. If you were to use conventional softening to reduce your hardness you would still have that nice 50 mg/L alkalinity and would have non-scaling water. You could use a whole house softener, or a point of use cartridge softener like the Homeland HWCS or the 3M/Cuno PS-124. Those cartridge softeners also include the charcoal filtration that you need for chlorine, off-tastes, and odors. They do nothing to reduce chloride.

I still firmly believe you should steer clear of any decarbonizing filter with this water. (BWT bestmax, Brita/Mavea Quell ST, Pentair/Everpure Claris, etc.) They would reduce scale risk nicely but exacerbate chloride corrosion risk because they lower the alkalinity and the pH.
Pat
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achosid (original poster)
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#22: Post by achosid (original poster) »

homeburrero wrote:I think that both Pressino and moodyerdoc both have valid although opposing recommendations.

Re the need for RO to remove that chloride. Your chloride is borderline at around 30 mg/L, and the (overly simplistic) La Marzocco advice would advise RO + remin at 31 mg/L but not at 29 mg/L. Nothing magic happens at 30 mg/L, it's just a reasonable cutoff value they picked. Some (e.g. Synesso) would recommend RO if the chloride is above 15 mg/L. If you have a valuable or vintage machine that you want to use for years with no worry about chloride corrosion then I'd say go with RO and remin.

moodyerdoc's point about tolerating more chloride: if your water has reasonable alkalinity is also valid, and your alkalinity, at 50 mg/L as CaCO3 is good. If you were to use conventional softening to reduce your hardness you would still have that nice 50 mg/L alkalinity and would have non-scaling water. You could use a whole house softener, or a point of use cartridge softener like the Homeland HWCS or the 3M/Cuno PS-124. Those cartridge softeners also include the charcoal filtration that you need for chlorine, off-tastes, and odors. They do nothing to reduce chloride.

I still firmly believe you should steer clear of any decarbonizing filter with this water. (BWT bestmax, Brita/Mavea Quell ST, Pentair/Everpure Claris, etc.) They would reduce scale risk nicely but exacerbate chloride corrosion risk because they lower the alkalinity and the pH.
I'm planning on purchasing a Linea Micra in the next few months, which makes me view this both directions: it's a brand new machine but also it's a La Marzocco and I'd be directly going against their water calculator, as nonsensical as their line drawing might be. If I were to do with a more conventional cartridge based softener (I'm not hugely interested in a whole house softener currently, but maybe eventually) what kind of additional maintenance should I expect that I would avoid if I went with a RO/Remineralization setup?

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#23: Post by Pressino »

moodyerdoc wrote: With your pH and alkalinity, the chlorides should not be a big issue. Remineralization really not necessary either with our alkalinity, etc. Plus, you get to enjoy softened water throughout the rest of your house.
I'm not sure that pH/alkalinity is going to obviate the risk of corrosion posed by the chloride ion concentration. The water's pH is certainly variable, depending on other variable factors, and alkalinity on it's own may reduce to some variable extent (again depending on other parameters), but not eliminate the corrosion risk. RO w/ remineralization, would IMO be a much safer. But I would defer to Homeburrero on this point.

Edit: Oops, I sent this from page 2 and before I resad Homeburreros comments...

achosid (original poster)
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#24: Post by achosid (original poster) »

Is there a cartridge based RO set up you would recommend?

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homeburrero
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#25: Post by homeburrero »

achosid wrote:what kind of additional maintenance should I expect that I would avoid if I went with a RO/Remineralization setup?
An RO + remin system will be much more complex than a simple softener cartridge, with 5 or 6 replaceable filters like this for example:




It would also have an accumulator tank and other parts. The expensive ones with blending features generally have a precision blending valve and inline conductivity 'TDS' meters.

The highly recommended ones from Pentair/Optipure that are sold by espresso equipment vendors will cost you a couple thousand $ USD or more. My usual advice was to buy one from a reputable espresso equipment vendor like the sponsors of this site but I don't see many options there for home espresso use.

The affordable undersink units that many HB members use and discuss on this site include iSpring, Homemaster, APEC, and LivingWater. (You can search this water forum with those keywords.) A couple of those are sold by big box hardware stores.
Pat
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achosid (original poster)
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#26: Post by achosid (original poster) »

That seems like a significantly increased pain over the cartridge softeners. Would my main concern just be potential for corrosion?

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homeburrero
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#27: Post by homeburrero replying to achosid »

It is, and yes your only reason for choosing RO over conventional softening here is to eliminate the corrosion risk from that borderline high chloride ion. Since you're looking at a Linea Mini purchase you can run this decision by the Lamarzocco USA support folks and refer them to this thread. They may punt and tell you to contact a local espresso water technician to help with your water setup. Let us know what they say.
Pat
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achosid (original poster)
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#28: Post by achosid (original poster) »

Will do. I misspoke (and edited) I'm planning on the Micra, not the Mini, not that it would change much of anything.

achosid (original poster)
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#29: Post by achosid (original poster) »

homeburrero wrote:It is, and yes your only reason for choosing RO over conventional softening here is to eliminate the corrosion risk from that borderline high chloride ion. Since you're looking at a Linea Mini purchase you can run this decision by the Lamarzocco USA support folks and refer them to this thread. They may punt and tell you to contact a local espresso water technician to help with your water setup. Let us know what they say.
They responded today:
La Marzocco wrote:Thank you for reaching out. For water treatment, we're going to recommend RO/Remineralization. The presence of chlorides really precludes the use of a softener as water with higher chloride levels when softened can lead to water that is aggressive towards the steel in our boilers.

Regarding off-the-shelf water solutions, we recommend the following bottled water solutions: Crystal Geyser (only if bottled in California or South Carolina - check the label), Poland Spring spring water, or distilled water coupled with Third Wave Water's Espresso Profile at a concentration of 1 two liter "stick" per gallon of distilled (we recommend a softer concentration than Third Wave Water does).
Looks like it's time for me to research RO/Remineralization setups! I juast asked if there are any home-level RO setups they recommend.

My machine is next to my refrigerator, so I can easily tap into the waterline in the basement before it goes up to the fridge: should I expect any issues if I put the RO setup in the basement to save space in the kitchen, and then run the line from it up through the floor to the machine?

achosid (original poster)
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#30: Post by achosid (original poster) »

And they've gotten back to me with a full response and suggested equipment:
Weak acid cation exchange "softeners" work by acidifying the water. Calcium has a pH saturation point of around 9.2. If you keep the pH artificially low, scale will not form. That said, it takes a truck load of free hydrogen to artificially lower the pH. It is the combination of elevated chlorides, low pH, and an alkalinity to chloride ratio below 4:1 that creates conditions for corrosion. Now, due to the unique engineering of the Linea Mini, there is less opportunity for corrosion. Also, while the water there is pretty bad for some time out of the year, it's also not bad at other times. Which is probably why this isn't a bigger issue. RO recommendations: Lots of people have had success with iSpring brand on Amazon. Specifically the RCC7P. Usually around $300. The Omnipure K2548-JJ can be installed in place of the 5th stage filter on the RO.

Pros:
- Standard filter cartridges, not locked into proprietary cartridges
- Pump feeding the membrane improves water quality and quantity. And for Chlorides a pump is superior to line pressure RO
- low cost

Cons:
- Probably foreign made. It will work just fine. It's just that there is a trade-off made to achieve this price point. No name parts, etc.
- You have to add a post RO remin filter. They do offer a system with an alkalizing filter, but the composition for use with an espresso machine is questionable.

That said I think probably 25+ customers have purchased these and only one person has reported a problem to me, and that customer let his pipes freeze. So that's really on him. There are other brands that I know people have had success with Apex, espresso Water, Fresh Water Systems, US Water Systems. Really, an RO with a pressure pump is the thing you want. Also do not get a tankless RO. In theory they should work, but in the real world there's a significant trade-off with the tankless in terms of water quality. I just went down a long rabbit hole for another customer investigating the Water Drop brand. They (Water Drop)finally got back to me and confirmed my suspicions. I have experience with commercial tankless RO systems used in grocery store produce misting systems, where corrosion isn't an issue.