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Old 07-31-2013, 08:38 PM   #1
mchrispen
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Default Time for a whole house RO system...

Just got my report from Ward Labs. Explains all of the troubles I have had lately with striking the right PH in mash and boil. Hopefully it will also help get those last few efficiency points if I get the right water Ph.

Anyone have a good recommendation on a whole home RO system? I really don't think I want to drink this anymore. Filtered it still tastes a bit weird.

The Colony, Bastrop Texas - Aqua Water, WL073013

Calcium: 9.00 ppm
Sulfate: 63.00 ppm
Magnesium: 5.00 ppm
Chloride: 102.00 ppm
Sodium: 296.00 ppm
Bicarbonate: 582.00 ppm
PH: 8.30

Last time we got a quote on a whole home system the sales guy went a bit overboard and I had to say NO... I would like a simple RO system, no softening. No crystal channeling from amethysts and so forth...

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Old 07-31-2013, 08:54 PM   #2
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Wowzers...

I dont know about whole house, but I just installed this http://www.amazon.com/dp/B003XELTTG/..._26725410_item

It gets my water down to ~7PPM, which I am fine with.

My buddy has http://www.amazon.com/Watts-Premier-...atts+ro+filter

It gets his water down to ~3PPM.

IMO whole house is a little unnecessary. Just get one big enough for drinking and brewing water. Both of these would fit the bill.

You can definitely get cheaper systems than the above, but through my research the durability and replacement filter costs steered me away from them. Also there was some questions about effectiveness of the cheaper units.

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Old 07-31-2013, 10:53 PM   #3
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I can say that the water for drinking sucks, but it is also very hard on the pipes and faucets. We have fairly nice fixtures, many of which need to be replaced after 4 years here. We had the hot water heaters serviced and there was nearly 10 inches of crap at the bottom. I knew the water wasn't great, and this does explain some difficulty in my brewing.

I have looked at the smaller systems, however for a whole house, would require something that would exceed the 50G per day, and I wouldn't mind if the brine went grey water for the septic.

Thinking whole house because I have a good investment in a washing machine, dishwasher and other appliances that are getting as corroded as the faucets. I hoped perhaps it would help clean up some of the problem areas (as it did in a former residence), and give these things a better lifespan.

FYI - Ward is awesome. I mailed on Friday and had the results in my email yesterday evening.

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Old 07-31-2013, 10:55 PM   #4
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Look at the Titan skids. There are certainly others as well. There are some things to think about in a whole house system. RO water, being very low in ion content is quite corrosive and cannot, therefore, be run in metal pipe. If your house is new and all the plumbing is PEX you are fat. Otherwise, any copper plumbing would have to be replaced. There is little point in flushing your toilets with RO water (unless you really want to be rid of manganese and iron stains) or showering/bathing with it (unless you are willing to pay to be free of shower head encrustation). What I am getting at is that you may want to run the 'whole house' system only to a subset of loads such as kitchen sink, refrigerator ice maker, brewery, dish washer, washing machine etc. and keep the others (hose bibs, showers...) on the untreated system.

In addition to the RO skid you will need an atmospheric tank (to collect the RO water), a pressure tank to hold some of it at pressure for distribution (just like a well pressure tank except made of a non metal) a pump to pressurize the tank (from the atmospheric tank) and controls (float switches, pressure switches, safety pressure relief valves...).

Judging from your water report, it has already been softened. This is actually necessary for RO system longevity.

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Old 08-01-2013, 01:50 AM   #5
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Last time we got a quote on a whole home system the sales guy went a bit overboard and I had to say NO... I would like a simple RO system, no softening. No crystal channeling from amethysts and so forth...
That water is already quite soft, so an additional softener is definitely not needed. I'm estimating that the corrosion is probably due to the elevated chloride concentration. It is notorious for corroding steel, but I expect that there is no steel in your plumbing fixtures.

I'm assuming that the other thing that they were trying to sell you was a hardening filter, loaded with calcite so that the RO water has a little calcium in it.

I run RO to my brewery, the kitchen sink, and ice maker. It would be costly to have a system that could supply all the water circuits in the house. Good luck with it.
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Old 08-01-2013, 11:53 AM   #6
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First, AJ and Martin, thanks for all of the education you guys provide. I really feel the water adjustments are the last frontier for my brewing.

I need to chew on this advice. Home is 6 years old, with PEX, but I cannot find a central manifold. Going to have to involve a plumber I suspect.

I am now leaning toward a large, hi flow, prefilter and charcoal for the whole house, and a smaller RO for drinking and brewery. I have forgotten the scale of the rejection water, that would just be wasteful whole house.

Brewed a pale ale Tuesday with the water, couldn't get the mash Ph below 5.6. That's with 20 ml 10% Phosphoric, 8 oz acid malt, 5 grams gypsum and 15 cal chloride. Malt bill 25.5 lbs, no roasted malts. Took 45 minutes to reach 5.6. Infusion at 152F.

Will see if I can find RO or distiller to try next time with target adjustments, and remake this recipe.

Cheers, Matt

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Old 08-01-2013, 01:04 PM   #7
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That is huge alkalinity in that tap water. Fortunately, you are using phosphoric acid and that offers the lowest flavor impact. Going with RO will reduce the need for acidification.

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Old 08-02-2013, 04:41 AM   #8
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I have forgotten the scale of the rejection water, that would just be wasteful whole house.
While recovery in the smaller RO systems is typically not adjustable and is typically set to a disappointingly low value (18 - 20% - this is done so that the membranes don't crust up with even quite hard feed) the larger whole house systems (such as the Titans I mentioned in the earlier post) are equipped with a high pressure gear pump and can be run at higher recoveries (50%) by throttling the concentrate output line. This increases pressure across the membrane causing more water to flow through. But it also increases the ion concentration in the waste stream and can lead to precipitation on (fouling of) the membranes if the feed water is not softened (calcium and magnesium removed as has been done for your water). Even higher recovery rates (70%) can be achieved by feeding some of the concentrate back around to the input. The plumbing, valve and flow meter for this can be ordered as an option when these systems are configured.

Nature being the way she is, there is a cost for increased recovery by feedback and that is reduced rejection. With your alkalinity as high as it is there isn't a lot of wiggle room for rejection so you'd have to do a tradeoff.

Of course you always have the problem of disposing of the concentrate which is, as the name implies, carrying ions at higher concentration than the feed. At 50% recovery all the numbers will double and at 67% they will be treble (1.7 g/l bicarbonate).
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Old 08-05-2013, 01:32 AM   #9
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Martin,

I should take some pictures, but the corrosion is happening at the faucets, I suspect where the steel fittings are screwed together. I cannot get the aerators off any of the faucets, they are corroded with a white and green gunk. I used to think it was calcium scale, but clearly it isn't. I would guess it's bicarb and some salt coming out of solution and reacting with the chromium or nickel in the stainless. Both our "copper" finished and stainless finished also show some green oxidation like you expect with copper oxidation. I am going to have to replace it all at some point soon, it is that bad.

AJ,

Are you referring to the light commercial systems? looks like 20" filters, pumps and may need pressure or atmospheric tanks, 200-500 GPD. Those look actually fairly cost effective compared to Kinetico. Either way - don't want to get swindled. Of course, the sites seems to imply that I should scale to twice the capacity to reduce pump wear. It also looks like I should get a much more extensive water test if I do this whole home. Are there really any benefits to this? or am I worrying too much. A small system will meet my brewing and drinking water needs it seems.

I was told that the extra waste going into the grey tank in my aerobic septic could be problematic. However the system was sized to support a large family, and there are just 2 of us on it. The effluent is also treated with Chlorine before being sprayed. Beginning to be confused by the tradeoffs. I guess once a tank is full, the waste is consumption based, save the back flush. And a lot of waste water is bad when we are in an extreme drought down here.

And once again, thank ya'll for the advice and time!

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Old 08-05-2013, 02:26 PM   #10
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Are you referring to the light commercial systems? looks like 20" filters, pumps and may need pressure or atmospheric tanks, 200-500 GPD. Those look actually fairly cost effective compared to Kinetico. Either way - don't want to get swindled.
I bought a 500 GPD skid from Titan (http://www.amazon.com/Flexeon-Gallon.../dp/B0051PRBZQ) for a bit under $2K. I thought that fairly reasonable for 500 GPD. Not that I use 500 GPD. It's only plumbed into my brewery and lab. What I was after was the 20 gph that 500 GPD implies. I can collect the 50 -75 gal RO water I need to brew in a couple of hours and if I don't collect enough I can get plenty more while I am brewing.

I put the system together myself, had too much fun doing it and spent way too much money on tanks, controls, pressure valves etc. So I guess I got swindled but it was a do it yourself con. Pic of the system at http://www.pbase.com/agamid/image/124857348. An unanticipated benefit was that when the well failed on boxing day we had an ample supply of drinking, toilet flushing, cooking water until they came out and replaced the pump several days later.

Note that there are a million possible configurations for a larger RO system wrt pumps, whether to have an atmospheric tanks and if you do what size, pressure tank sizes, controls (float switches, pressure switches, pressure relief valves) etc. If you don't put it together yourself then you are relying on what someone else tells you you should have.


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Of course, the sites seems to imply that I should scale to twice the capacity to reduce pump wear.
That's clever!

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It also looks like I should get a much more extensive water test if I do this whole home. Are there really any benefits to this? or am I worrying too much.
Yes, there is a reason for a more extensive test in larger systems because they are adjustable for recovery and the maximum allowable recovery is that which keeps the all the salts in the concentrate below their saturation levels. I put your numbers into my spreadsheet and was very surprised to see that your 'limiting salt' is calcium carbonate. Even though your water has been softened it is still super saturated with respect to calcium carbonate. The saturation pH is 8.25 and your reported pH is 8.3. The calculation tells me that your maximum allowable recovery is 0%. Your source water will, theoretically, deposit chalk on and foul your membranes.

The solution to this for you would be to inject acid to lower the pH. At pH 7.5 calcium carbonate would still be your limiting salt and you could operate at 44% recovery (approximate number). But if you have high silica content that can be limiting. For example the 28 mg/L in my well limits me to 47%.


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A small system will meet my brewing and drinking water needs it seems.
Solving the pH problem in a whole house system would doubtless be expensive and require elaborate equipment. Beyond that anyone who has dealt with a widowed mother or other relative knows that all this fancy automatic stuff can be a problem if you are not there to operate/fix/maintain it.

You will still probably have to do something about the pH/huge alkalinity with a small RO system or even the ones that run less than 20% recovery won't last long. Of course if they are cheap enough you can throw them away (or their membranes anyway).

You have over a gram of junk in each liter of your water. Little wonder that you see encrustations on plumbing fixtures. A whole house system has its appeal for water this bad but it has its downside too.

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I was told that the extra waste going into the grey tank in my aerobic septic could be problematic. However the system was sized to support a large family, and there are just 2 of us on it.
With 50% recovery and assuming that most of the recovered water winds up as grey water (i.e. most of it is used for washing as opposed to drinking/brewing) that will double your water consumption and grey water load i.e. as if there are 4 people. If the system is sized for 4 then things should be OK. The alternative is to dump the concentrate elsewhere but as it will contain 2 g/L stuff (mostly sodium bicarbonate) I would be reluctant to dump it on the lawn for example.


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The effluent is also treated with Chlorine before being sprayed.
???

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And a lot of waste water is bad when we are in an extreme drought down here.
That drives you to set up for higher recovery and that means removing the bicarbonate with acid before RO. This would have the added benefit of less bicarbonate in the concentrate but the potential costs have been noted.
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