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Old 08-02-2012, 12:48 AM   #1
makomachine
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Default Ward Labs Report

So I'm a 100% RO water brewer with additions who just got a new water softener and RO system installed. My water has been undrinkable to date - extremely hard with "off flavors". Now that I have the system installed I'm wanting to see if I can brew with it. I can always use the RO water and continue along my path (just not having to buy it bottled), but that's not always convenient as I only have a 3 gallon tank. I just got my Ward Labs Report and after review, and with my limited knowledge, I'm a bit concerned my sodium levels (water softener) are going to make this possibly not a good idea. Looking for some experienced advice/suggestions on what to do. It would seem that PH will become more tricky to manage.

PH 7.6
TDS ppm 355
Electrical conductivity .59
Cations/Anions 5.1/6.0

All ppm
Sodium 116
Potassium <1
Calcium <1
Magnesium <1
Total hardness, CACO3 <1
Nitrate 4.5
Sulfate, So4S 5
Chloride, Cl 44
Carbonate, CO3 <1
Bicarbonate, HCO3 248
Total Alkalinity, CACO3 203
Total Phosphorus, P <1
Total Iron NOT DETECTED

Any guidance on approach is appreciated!

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Old 08-02-2012, 06:27 AM   #2
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Yes, your water softener pretty much destroys the suitability of your water for brewing by removing nearly all the beneficial calcium and replacing it with at best useless sodium. This is, however, a good thing to do for your RO system as eliminating calcium means that calcium carbonate cannot precipitate on and clog up your membrane. The 3 gallon tank does not represent a real limitation. Simply tee into the line going to the pressure tank and run the leg of the tee, through a valve, into your HLT. Relieved of back pressure your RO system will produce more water per day that it did with the pressure tank though the rate will still be very modest. If the system produces 5 gallons a day and you need 20 gal to brew simply start collecting 4 days before brew day.

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Old 08-02-2012, 02:17 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ajdelange
Yes, your water softener pretty much destroys the suitability of your water for brewing by removing nearly all the beneficial calcium and replacing it with at best useless sodium. This is, however, a good thing to do for your RO system as eliminating calcium means that calcium carbonate cannot precipitate on and clog up your membrane. The 3 gallon tank does not represent a real limitation. Simply tee into the line going to the pressure tank and run the leg of the tee, through a valve, into your HLT. Relieved of back pressure your RO system will produce more water per day that it did with the pressure tank though the rate will still be very modest. If the system produces 5 gallons a day and you need 20 gal to brew simply start collecting 4 days before brew day.
Thanks AJ - exactly what I thought you would say. I actually was considering getting a separate storage tank that I could build up a few days in advance but your 'tee' solution has me intrigued. Need to look into that as I'm not sure how the water pressure is maintained out of the tank and to the faucet. If I were to tee off the line to an additional tank with faucet, would that cause potential faucet pressure issues?
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In Process: Braggot
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Old 08-02-2012, 03:51 PM   #4
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If the system is tee'd off and the pressure in the tank drops to atmospheric pressure, you won't be able to use the faucet. If you have higher water demands, then an option would be to add a larger pressure tank. You can typically only get about half the water volume out of a tank. So if you need 10 gallons to brew with, you will need a 20 gal pressure tank. You can keep both the existing 3 gal and new tank hooked up in the system to provide more volume. Craigslist is where I picked up a nearly new pressure tank a few years ago.

As AJ says, you will improve your system efficiency if you just run off your product water into an open tank instead of storing it in a pressure tank. But if you need the convenience of a pressurized RO water supply, then the larger set of tanks is the way to go.

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Old 08-02-2012, 04:17 PM   #5
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Yes, it would. What happens in the normal installation is that the pressure on one side of the membrane is at essentially the feed pressure while the other side is at the pressure of the bladder tank. As water flows through the membrane into the bladder tank it fills, the bladder gets compressed and the pressure in the tank goes up either to the point where no more trans membrane flow can take place or a pressure operated valve sensitive to tank pressure shuts off the feed. If you tee off the line to the pressure tank and open a valve connected to the tee water is forced out of the tank through the tee by the bladder until the bladder is fully expanded and then any additional water which flows through the membrane now goes out the tee rather than into the bladder tank. Obviously, opening the dispenser valve will not result in any flow because there isn't any pressure in the bladder tank.

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