Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Drinking Water Saga

4 years!  It's been four years, but we finally have our own DRINKING WATER!  I know, I know....those of you with unlimited access to drinking water are probably yawning.  But this is big stuff for us.  I am so thankful to have water we can drink.  I could go on and on about our water.  Maybe I will.  I'll try to keep it under a 1000 words.

Rejoice people!  When you come to visit us, you can drink water out of this special faucet.  Our drinking water faucet.  Water from our own well that we can finally drink!  Hurray!  No more filling gallons and gallons of water and lugging them home.  Oh double hooray!

But it was a journey.  We learned more about well water and well water treatment than we ever dreamed.  I guess that's part of moving into a house in a neighborhood that is "famous" for its horrible water.

Our main issue was that we have extremely hard water, high levels of sulfates, and extreme levels of hydrogen sulfide (the yucky gas that causes the horrible rotten egg smell).

We have a water softener that we use to cut down on the hardness. We had a Terminox to get rid of the stinky smell, but after 4 years we were tired of how much water it wasted to give us unscented water.  (We got rid of that bad boy by using Craigslist.)

We got rid of the Terminox and installed some heavy duty carbon filters.  We found out they didn't last long, so Biker Boy did more research and we had a local water treatment company come out to give us quotes.  The local water company quoted us $10,000 to put in a Triple O system with a tank.  No thank you. And we still wouldn't even be able to drink our water after that. 

Biker Boy found out about chlorine injection pumps to get rid of hydrogen sulfide stink (that the local company never told us about).  We decided to go that way.  It was only after asking the local company if they installed chemical pumps that they told us they had put some in and they work really well.  Still makes me wonder why they never told us about it in the first place?  Probably because it's a 10th of the cost.

You can find out about the installation of our chemical pump here.  Biker Boy ended up installing it himself.  After much fine tuning and tweaking...we're happy to report it works above and beyond what we expected.  We've continually tested for any free chlorine and we don't have any.  I still can detect a small whiff of a "swimming pool" scent when I shower, but my nose may be finely tuned to that with being a swimmer.  We have a big carbon filter attached to the house plumbing to get rid of any residual chlorine and scent that is left over. It smells less chloriney than the water from the city nearest us. put that water in a water bottle and it smells like you filled it from a swimming pool.  Any hoo....

I don't know why....but this chemical pump has had an added benefit.  I've noticed less mildew in the shower, the toilets stay sparkling clean and fresh smelling, and my dishwasher (ohh...don't get me started on how I dislike that thing), dishwasher is sparkling white after each use.  I will not complain about any of those things.

Even after a chemical pump and a carbon filter, we still couldn't drink our water.  It still had high levels of sulfates and then salt because of our softener replacing all the other hard stuff with salt.  We bought a Reverse Osmosis system from Costco.  (It's this one...and I'm not paid or perked for telling you.)  Biker Boy punched a hole in our sink to put in the special faucet.  I had to buy a special bit for him to do it.  I got it at Harbor Freight Tool where it was less than half the cost of one at a big box home improvement store.

The RO equipment went under our sink.  We just keep dog supplies down there, so there was plenty of room.  We did have to install a booster pump as seen in the photo below.

There is a big tank that the water is kept in.  There is a bit of noise as that tank is filling up, but we just put the drain plugs in the sink and that covers up the noise.  Or we run the dishwasher and then can't even hear ourselves talking to each other.  The dishwasher is that noisy.  We put the dates we put the filters in and can easily buy replacement ones from Costco.  Biker Boy really liked this system because the filters last a long time and are easy to replace. 

But, even after installing the RO system, I was not ready to let my family drink the water.  The well was tested when we moved in 4 years ago, but hadn't been tested since then.  So I had a local testing company test the water from the well and the water from the RO system.  No bacteria or other yucky stuff was detected.  Of course our water was very hard and the sulfates levels were beyond acceptable in the water straight out of the well.  The water from our RO system was devoid of anything.  The sulfate levels dropped to almost nothing.  One word of caution if you're installing water treatment equipment....have your water tested by an independent place, not the place installing your equipment.

We also did some additional testing.  We had our water tested for radon.  Ever heard of testing water for radon?  I never had till my brother and his wife sold their home and it tested high for radon in water.  Since our well is 300ft deep in different types of rock, we had it tested.  It came out at the lowest detectable amount or nothing at all, so we're good.

We also did some testing with kits we bought at a pool store and Home Depot.  The chlorine strips were used to test for free chlorine and to adjust our chemical pump.  We also did back up tests with the strips in the water quality kit for pH, copper, nitrates, nitrites, and bunches of other things.  Read the directions carefully and follow them if you use these kits.

So I'm happy to report we can now drink our water.  It's tasteless and scentless and so refreshing.  Yes, the RO system does waste some water, but it's a lot less than our old system.  You can get a system to put the wasted water back into your hot water lines, but we're going to wait on that.  The reviews on it weren't so great. Although the reviews on the Zero Waste system sold from Costco are a mixed bunch, you can check it out yourself.

Any other water sagas out there?  Now go and drink a glass of water, I think I will.

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