AWSX1686 (Forum Supporter)
AWSX1686 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UberDork
2/27/23 1:45 p.m.

So I bought a house with a well, and I'm hoping the hive mind can give me some insight. 

 

1. Wells

-I don't need too much info. I guess I have a centrifugal well pump, and likely a shallow well in this case.

 

2. UV. 

-The local water place says if you have a well, you need a UV light. Overall that makes sense, but they want ~$1250 to put one in. Now, they did say that included chlorinating the lines, since the UV light obviously can't treat what is past it.

-I am capable of installing myself (aside from chlorinating), so I'm inclined to do it myself. Does anyone have a recommendation?

I saw this one recommended by someone online: https://amzn.to/3IUugZP 

 

3. Softener. 

-The local guy tested my water @ 11 grains hard. 

-There was a water softener that came with the house, but it sprung a leak when we were doing other plumbing, and apparently it is undersized. 

-Again, I am capable of installing myself, but is there a good option that I can go buy online or otherwise?

    -The local water guy of course say "Lowes quality" units are not going to hold up like one from them...

 

4. Pressure. 

-How much can these pumps be cranked up? I recharged the pressure tank and the system seems to be running ~40psi currently fairly well, but more could be nice...

 

 

 

 

The quote from the local water place was: 

-ES-1044 Water Softener = $2395 installed

-GDS-8 UV Light & 2.5x10" Filter = $1260 installed

 

Datsun310Guy
Datsun310Guy MegaDork
2/27/23 2:04 p.m.

Softener - I buy the big box ones - problems after 6 years.  My hardness is 37-41 so we run them hard.  I agree the better ones are better and use less salt but I never have the cash to upgrade.

We bought the Morton $599 one last August and never got it to work properly so Menards swapped it out and a week later all was good.  

My last house was a softener nightmare then Chicago water came through and we didn't need it.  Then we moved to Locktucky to start over with E36 M3 water.

Toyman!
Toyman! GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
2/27/23 2:39 p.m.

My parent's house is run off of several wells. No UV lights or water softeners are needed. 

At a guess, your plumber is trying to sell you something. 

ggarrard
ggarrard GRM+ Memberand Reader
2/27/23 3:01 p.m.

As Toyman notes.... UV and Softeners are often not necessary.   

We've never had a UV system on any our water systems (parent's home, family farm, our 2 homes).   We have had softeners in our 2 homes, but our area is known for hard water. In both cases I bought from the small local business in order to take advantage of any service needs.  He also offered a payment plan that we took advantage of with our first house that eased the $$ crunch of the 1st few months of ownership.

Edit:  My hardener is set at 25...  water pressure runs between 25 and 60psi..

Gordon 

11GTCS
11GTCS Dork
2/27/23 7:02 p.m.

In reply to AWSX1686 (Forum Supporter) :

Congratulations on the house!  A centrifugal shallow well pump will have a shut off head rating (maximum discharge pressure at zero flow). If you can find a nameplate on the pump it may list the shut off head otherwise check the manufacturer’s web site to see if they have any information.  We use a similar set up to pump lake water for our summer cottage and the pump pressure switch is set to shut off at 50 psi.

See if you can get a sample of the well water tested before buying any more equipment.  We have a whole house filter at the cottage to keep any dirt and large stuff in the lake out of the plumbing. We also have a small point of use faucet in the kitchen that has a two stage filter and a UV light for cooking and drinking water just to be safe.  A whole set up in the point of use size would be in the $300-$500 range depending on the manufacturer and it’s an easy DIY job to install. 

BoxheadTim
BoxheadTim GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
2/27/23 9:11 p.m.

+1 on getting the water tested first. We ended up having to get a UV light installed because said testing found a couple of unpleasant organisms in our well water. That was after we had the well shocked a couple of times with bleach.

One thing to keep an eye out for is the cost of replacement UV bulbs. Our system requires a new bulb annually and those are not cheap. With hindsight, it would've potentially been better to get a system with a bulb sensor in the hope that the bulb doesn't require changing quite that often if it's actual health gets measured. But then again, the seller of the house ended up having to pay for the installation and this was the best system we could get out of them.

Datsun310Guy
Datsun310Guy MegaDork
2/27/23 11:06 p.m.

Another downside on the cheap $599 softeners - when you have an issue in the Chicago area there is nobody interested in fixing it.  You fix it or get another one.  

Ranger50
Ranger50 MegaDork
2/28/23 1:09 a.m.

I have hard water out here.... like my calcium is stupid high. I need a new system as salt doesn't do much.

UV lights imo are a waste unless you have some truly bad water with bacteria or noxious odors.

AWSX1686 (Forum Supporter)
AWSX1686 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UberDork
2/28/23 8:27 a.m.
11GTCS said:

In reply to AWSX1686 (Forum Supporter) :

Congratulations on the house!  A centrifugal shallow well pump will have a shut off head rating (maximum discharge pressure at zero flow). If you can find a nameplate on the pump it may list the shut off head otherwise check the manufacturer’s web site to see if they have any information.  We use a similar set up to pump lake water for our summer cottage and the pump pressure switch is set to shut off at 50 psi.

See if you can get a sample of the well water tested before buying any more equipment.  We have a whole house filter at the cottage to keep any dirt and large stuff in the lake out of the plumbing. We also have a small point of use faucet in the kitchen that has a two stage filter and a UV light for cooking and drinking water just to be safe.  A whole set up in the point of use size would be in the $300-$500 range depending on the manufacturer and it’s an easy DIY job to install. 

The current shut off switch on the pump is 40psi, but I wasn't sure if I can just go get a different switch and bump it to 50 or 60, or what the limits of the pump are. I'll have to get a closer picture to see model number. 

The water was tested. 11 grains hard. You can tell it's hard and that the old softener wasn't being used (the bypass was pressed when I got the place) because of the buildup at the faucets and stuff. 

AWSX1686 (Forum Supporter)
AWSX1686 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UberDork
2/28/23 8:29 a.m.

I am not really debating the need for UV and a softener, I'm fine with putting both in, I'd just rather do it myself than pay for it to be done. ~$300 for a UV light compared to $1250 I'll do it myself. Softener is the same way, I'm just trying to figure out which one to get I guess. 

bobzilla
bobzilla MegaDork
2/28/23 10:08 a.m.

Spend the money on the softener. We installed a lowes softener and it died in 5 years. We spent the money on a local place's commercial grade and it's worked great the last 13. Ours was quite a bit harder than yours was initially because it had sat dormant for close to 20 years. Its cleaned up a little since then

 

Peabody
Peabody MegaDork
2/28/23 10:13 a.m.

When we bought this place there was an old softener in the basement that I didn't think was working, and I didn't know much about water treatment.

So I called in 3 water companies and got quotes, following along as they tested the water, I picked their brains. I then compared the quotes and researched the equipment and water treatment in general, and put a system together on my own. The highest quote, and this was 25 years ago, was $8000, the others were not far behind. Water treatment is a racket. My water is hard, very hard at over 100 GPG, and it has iron. What I did was install a 5 micron filter right after the pump to a 44,000 grain Kenmore (GE) softener. That fed the house, and for drinking I installed an Amazon RO system. The 5 micron filter kept the iron out of the softener, and the softener lasted just shy of 20 years when it was no longer softening the water as well as it once did. I may have caused that problem by shocking the water, and could have replaced the media, but the rest of the machine was 20 years old so I replaced it. And since there are only 2 of us in the house now, I went with with a Whirlpool 40,000 grain machine. It's been fine, and actually uses a fraction of the salt the old GE used to.

My thoughts, you'll probably get 50 psi out of that pump, and 50 psi is a lot more enjoyable in the shower than 40. If the pump cycles as soon as the tap is opened, the bladder in your tank is probably shot. You can replace it, or just put some air in the tank with a compressor, to act as cushion. At 11 grains, your water is not bad, and a smaller machine, 30k or less should do the job fine. Look at a few of the online calculators, err on the large side. If you're going to be drinking  the water, I'd recommend an RO system to remove the salt. Even though softeners usually have a small strainer, I strongly recommend a 5 micron filter before it. It will save you the hassle of finding out the hard way that the strainer is plugged and having to clean it. Whatever filter(s) you buy, research them first to make sure they don't use proprietary filter cartridges/elements. I made that mistake on my first RO system, and it was more cost effective to replace the system than continue to buy proprietary filters. If you do install an RO system, you will need a booster pump, 50 psi won't likely be enough for it to run properly.

Water treatment, at least this kind, is a racket, but it's very simple and all the info you need is easily accessible.

AWSX1686 (Forum Supporter)
AWSX1686 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UberDork
2/28/23 10:34 a.m.

In reply to Peabody :

Thanks for that info. 

For drinking water I plan to have an output come off the line before it gets softened, but after the UV light probably. My wife doesn't like softened water, and that's way easier and cheaper than an RO system. 

I'll look into the calculators to see water softener size. 

Peabody
Peabody MegaDork
2/28/23 10:39 a.m.

Sure, at 11 grains it might be fine. I never tested it but I suspect our first place was close to that and it was fine for drinking.

Bob's right, the commercial grade softeners are better, though we never had a problem with our inexpensive ones. The real difference is in the controls. The tank and media are all pretty straightforward.

bobzilla
bobzilla MegaDork
2/28/23 10:47 a.m.

In reply to Peabody :

Ours got frozen a couple times in that time span along with the super hard water for that first year. We knew when it stopped working. 

As for drinking water, hell I've always had well water. 2 years in Fishers on city water was enough for me. That stuff tasted terrible. NEver had a UV or filter system outside the refrigerator. I never understood why peope were so scared of drinking water from a well.... unless you were in Michigan ,,,

AWSX1686 (Forum Supporter)
AWSX1686 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UberDork
2/28/23 11:02 a.m.

So, here's another question. Is the UV Light really needed on anything that's not drinking water? 

 

This is how I'm thinking about plumbing the system once I find what UV and softener I do want to use: 

I saw online you are supposed to have the UV Light after all of the other treatments, but if it's mainly for bacteria, I feel like I mostly care about it for drinking water. So if I take drinking water off right after the UV light, then if it helps the rest of the system great, even though it's before the softener. 

1988RedT2
1988RedT2 MegaDork
2/28/23 12:02 p.m.

I don't think I'd bother with the UV unless I had the water tested for microbial activity and found some nasties, and with a shallow well, that's certainly possible.  Even if you're not drinking the water, some bacteria could be bad for you to shower with.

I have a deep well, and have always had an iron removal unit.  Fixtures don't stain, but my hardness was tested at 6 to 8 GPG.  Never ran a softener until this year, and the reason we opted for it was that when I drained one of my two water heaters to replace the lower element, I shined a flashlight in the opening and was shocked to find that there were many inches of a white calcium deposit inside the tank.  Hoping this helps.  Installed cost was around $2500.

I think my well tank shuts off the pump at 40 psi, which seems adequate.  Perceived pressure at your shower head will depend on pipe size and length of run.

We've always gotten drinking water home delivered, but that's been more of an abundance of caution with the kids growing up than any fault of the well water itself.

11GTCS
11GTCS Dork
2/28/23 6:54 p.m.

In reply to AWSX1686 (Forum Supporter) :

I just looked up several Myers shallow well pumps.  It looks like the shut off head for the 3/4 hp and 1 hp versions are 69 PSI.  The flow output of a centrifugal pump decreases as you approach shut off head (maximum pressure but zero flow).  50 PSI is well below the shut off head so you should be able to increase the operating pressure without reducing the volume pumped and having long run times. The switch should have some range of adjustment, make small adjustments and watch out as there are live line voltage contacts that will be exposed when the plastic cover is removed.  

AWSX1686 (Forum Supporter)
AWSX1686 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UberDork
3/13/23 9:27 a.m.

I had my plumber quoting me a water softener, but I came into a luck deal that I couldn't pass up trying. It even happens to be the model of water softener I was thinking about!

 

UV light is on order and should be in this week. Hopefully that works well. 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0725MGTLG?psc=1&ref=ppx_yo2ov_dt_b_product_details

 

I am also going to grab a 30-50 switch for my well pump and replace the 20-40. Hopefully then I should be set for a while!

Peabody
Peabody MegaDork
3/13/23 9:40 a.m.

Wow that's a good deal.

AWSX1686 (Forum Supporter)
AWSX1686 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UberDork
3/13/23 10:57 a.m.

In reply to Peabody :

Yeah, couldn't pass that one up! I ran to the store as soon as I heard about it. 

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/14/23 12:16 p.m.

+ eleventy for testing water first before assuming you need UV.

Mom and dad have a well that is with the house they bought in 1968.  When I was a kid they had the water tested periodically for bacteria and junk.  After something like 20 years of not finding a single problem, they stopped testing.

They have a softener as well.  Theirs isn't terribly hard, but it sure does make a difference in soap scum, water stains, and how well the dishwasher works.

I have never seen a bladder tank in the well head before.  I would think you might expect many more years of service if you moved it inside.  Also easier to service and test.

AWSX1686 (Forum Supporter)
AWSX1686 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UberDork
3/21/23 11:13 a.m.

We got the softener and UV light installed Friday night. Went pretty smoothly overall. 

Yesterday morning i went downstairs and found the floor wet. I guess sometime Sunday night a small leak sprung at one of the copper joints. Not too bad, but annoying. Water in the pipes made soldering a pain and I melted my sediment filter housing so I had to grab a new one. Again, not too bad, but annoying. 

 

Hopefully it'll be all good from here. 

Still need to get a higher pressure switch for the pump. 

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