Monday, July 23, 2012

Troubled Waters in the Sierra Foothills

Troubled Waters: Common problems in household water in the Sierra Foothills!

As moisture falls to the earth in the form of rain, snow, etc. It is relatively free from impurities except for what it has collected from the air on its journey downward.

Problem: HARDNESS….. In this natural state, water is "aggressive" or acidic in form. As nature's natural solvent, water wants to dissolve something and hasn't, as yet, had the chance. When the water seeps through the earth it dissolves, in many areas of the country, shale, limestone and other rocks containing calcium and magnesium, which are the minerals that cause the problem called hard water.

Hardness deposits in water heaters can reduce energy efficiency and the soap scum caused by using soap and hard water leaves rings on bathtubs, hair and skin after shampooing and bathing.
Solution…..  A water softener helps remove damaging calcium and magnesium and makes water a pleasure to use for cleaning, bathing and does it more effectively and economically.

The softeners take the hardness minerals out of water by passing the water through a bed of ion exchange resin. The resin beads are covered with sodium ions and as the hard water goes through the bed, the hardness mineral ions (calcium and magnesium) replace the sodium ions on the beads making the water free from hardness----or as it is called----"soft water."

When the resin bed has exchanged all of its sodium ions for hardness ions it can no longer do its job. At this point, the softener is recharged by passing a salt brine through the bed. This brine 'bath' washes the hardness minerals from the beads with sodium. The unit is now ready to soften the water again.

We recommend "demand regeneration" softeners that monitor water usage like a home water meter and signals regeneration according to the amount of water used to reduce salt and water consumption.

Problem: IRON ….. Iron is introduced to our water supply when water passes through iron bearing rock and strata such as we find here in the Sierras. Iron in water can cause rusty stains on sinks and laundry, plug pipes and water using appliances and give water a bad taste.

There are three types of iron found in our water. Red Water Iron: Water is already rust colored when drawn. Clear Water Iron: Water is clear when drawn but turns rusty when oxidized (left over night) Bacterial Iron: A non-harmful bacteria that feeds on iron and is present in the red water iron. If left standing, such as in a toilet tank, it will turn into clumps of red slime and have a rainbow colored reflection when a flashlight reflects on it.

Solution: Iron filter: Contains a media rich in oxygen that oxidizes iron into particles then traps them in the bed. Two methods are currently the most popular in use. One regenerates a bed of manganese greensand when necessary with potassium permanganate to replenish oxygen. The other, newer method utilized aeration with an aspirator ahead of an iron filter containing a media that also raises ph, if necessary. Iron filters work best on a ph range of 7.5 to 8.5.

Problem: ACID WATER ….. Acid water is water with a ph lower than 7.0. When water falls to the earth it is relatively pure and in this condition it wants to dissolve something. It is very aggressive or acidic. When the water passes through subsoil that consist of granite, marble or other impervious material it remains acidic. When water in this acidic condition reaches home water supplies it attacks everything it touches. Acid water will leave blue-green stains on plumbing fixtures, pit chrome plumbing fittings and china and corrode pipes.

Solution: An acid neutralizer contains a mineral (limestone) that dissolves in the water raising the ph. The mineral media is sacrificial and must be replaced when necessary. We recommend equipment that back flushes itself because if the media is not back washed it will harden to a state similar to concrete. This will prevent flow and cause, what we call, “worm holes” These worm holes allow water to flow too freely thru the media but not percolate thru the limestone.

Mumford Plumbing can help educate you on water treatment, click HERE for more information.


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    Water systems of ancient times relied on gravity for the supply of water, using pipes or channels usually made of clay, lead, bamboo, wood, or stone. Hollowed wooden logs wrapped in steel banding were used for plumbing pipes, particularly water mains. Logs were used for water distribution in England close to 500 years ago. US cities began using hollowed logs in the late 1700s through the 1800s.
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