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Monday, December 29, 2008

Softener Repair, Sulfur Content, and Copper Pipes

(My Original Blog Post:
Eddie from Ohio writes:

my water softener broke. we called culigan to come fix it and they sent a salesman out. without looking at it he told me that it will cost $1,400 and that i have a sulfur problem and i need a $2,000 sulfur filter. he said that sulfur eats my copper pipes. my parents live across the street and this has not been a problem in 30 years. do i need a sulfur filter?

Hi Eddie, thanks for the questions.

It seems that you have two questions.  I'd like to address your softener question first.

Common sense tells you that you cannot determine the damage to an appliance without actually looking at it. The salesman was hoping to catch you off  guard, to agree to the sale of brand new equipment.  This is what salespeople do.

There are several things that can go wrong with a softener.  The mechanics that initiate back washes etc. can break.  The ion exchange resin inside the softener usually will last about ten to fifteen years, depending on how hard your water is and how much water you use.  Your resin could also be clogged with iron, in this case back flushing with some Iron Out will solve this problem.  The point is, a good service technician will be able to tell in short order what the problem is and if it's worth it to fix it or purchase a new one, and  allow you to make that choice.

If your softener is from Culligan, I suggest calling them back and insisting on a service technician. If they give you a hard time, make some calls to local plumbers. Often, plumbers have the experience, and knowledge to troubleshoot and fix softeners and the supplier connections to find the correct parts.

If it does turn out that you need a new softner, I would suggest you consider a company called Kinetico. They make a wide range of water treatment as well as water softeners.  They tend to be more expensive than Culligan, but their equipment is of higher quality.  You do get what you pay for.

With regards to your sulfur issue, in short, the various forms of sulfur that may or may not be in your water will have no effect on your copper pipes.  If you do see some degradation of your pipes, it's likely that you have an issue with your cathodic protection.  Again, your local plumber will be able to help you with this.

Sulfur is commonly in your water in one of two ways.  The first is as dissolved sulfate.  This will not cause any odour or any adverse problems, and the only way to remove it is with reverse osmosis filtration.

The second is hydrogen sulphide, which does cause a rotten egg smell. It's usually present in very low concentrations if it's there.  This is only an aesthetic problem, and can be dealt with for much less than $2,000. If you don't smell rotten eggs in your water, it's not there.

I hope I've helped you. If you would like further clarification or have another question please do not hesitate to write back in.

0 keen observations: