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Water Quality/Options to handle excessive TDS


We purchased a property in Crawford Co. Pennsylvania zip 16440.  It is located in the bourough.  Well that feeds the house is approximnatley 85 ft. deep.  Provides plenty of water. All water supply plumbing is new from pump to tap. Mix of copper and Pex. Heater, well tank new also. There is a 5 micron filter after well tank prior to UV treatment then water softner.  Softner is a waterboss using magnesium chloride.  

There is a distinct rotten egg order for both cold and hot water.The water has somewhat salty taste.  Not like seawater but noticable.  We currently do not drink it.  Had the water tested with the following results

PH 7.8
Hardness 4
Iron - just a trace
Nitrate / Nitrite - minimul
Total hardness TDS 1800 - yup that is correct

Since we are near Cambridge Springs, PA which had/has a lot of natural springs and used to bottle its spring water I'm assuming that could be the thing bumping up the TDS.  I am hoping you could provide some direction with the following;

1.) Is there a way to determine what comprises the 1800 on the TDS reading and are there any system to help get that level down if necessary?
2.) Water is bacteria free (had it tested) is it an issue if we choose to use it for cooking is that an issue?
3.) Any thoughts on helping remove the rotten egg / sulfur smell


ANSWER: Hi Mark,
Is the sample you had analyzed directly from the well?  This is very important.

General Contractor
Environmental Engineer

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi Steve.  The sample came from a drain tap located on the weltrol pressure tank.  So it went through the well pump and 5 micron filter only, Not the UV light or softner.

Hope this helps.

ANSWER: Hi Mark,

OK, a couple more questions now that I have that answer.  When you say water has a salty taste are you talking about the untreated well water or the water exit softener?  Does your hot water heater have a sacrificial anode in it?  If so, what is the composition of the anode (what metals)?  The rotten egg smell you are talking about - do you detect it in the water coming directly out of the well before softener, etc?

The water test you had performed showed hardness at 4. 4 what?  In other words, what are the units - either ppm (parts per million) or gpg (grains per gallon).  This is very important since 1 grain = 17ppm so the results are either 4ppm or 68ppm - huge difference!

You listed this: Total hardness TDS 1800.  Did you mean to put just: TDS = 1800 and should have left "hardness" out?  As it is it makes no sense to have total hardness of 4 and then 1800.  I'm pretty sure I know what you meant - that the TDS is 1800.  

So, let me know the answers to these questions and we'll get you straightened out.


PS:  TDS is not good or bad.  It's just a number showing the total dissolved solids in the water.  Some water can have a TDS of 3000 and actually be better than water with a TDS of 200!  It depends on what is in the water that makes up the TDS number.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Regarding salty taste.   This is cold water that I tried from the tap which has gone through the softner.  I tried putting the softner on bypass and purging the system to ensure no softned water was left in the cold water line I was drawing from and it still had the taste. Again, not real salty just noticeable.  

When I installed the hot water heated purchased from HD.  I also purchased the recommended di-electric unions.  Not sure of composite of the metals but could check. When installing I don't remember seeing one the mention of Anode but One was red and one was blue capped.  The red went on the hot output. They were silver colored in appearance

Regarding rotten egg smell yes it is detected before the softner.

Regarding water hardness 4gpg.   Also it was TDS = 1800.

Thanks again for all the help

I don't see where the sample that you had analyzed came from.  Is it your well water or the water coming out of the softener?  I assume it's your well water since the hardness is so high but I want to make sure.  Also, you said the softener uses Magnesium Chloride.  Did you mean Sodium chloride??  I'm sure you meant sodium chloride but I want to make sure.  Also, what is the model # of your softener?

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Steve Young


I will answer questions on residential water treatment, i.e. use of softeners, filters, reverse osmosis systems, disinfection, iron and/or sediment removal and other issues facing the homeowner. I have worked extensively with well water systems.


I have worked in the water treatment area for many years as a consultant and as a professional environmental engineer in the private industry sector. I have designed reverse osmosis, deionization, and water softening systems. I have also done work in water quality and stream and river remediation as it relates to the Clean Water Act.

I am currently serving as an Expert for Home Improvement, Travel (New Mexico) and Travel (North Carolina);

BS Environmental Eng.

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