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Water Quality/need to lower ph in well water

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QUESTION: My well water ph is 5.5 and I have some copper pipes to the kitchen, didn't want plastic in the cooking area.  But on testing at the standing point copper was very high.  I need to reduce this but I don't want chlorine in my water.  I read about the muractic acid but that seems a bit more scary than I would like.  Would it just be better to change to plastic health wise then to try and change the water ph with muractic acid?

I live on a 'farmette' and use no chemicals.  I can send you the breakdown on the water quality if you need it.  Virginia Tech U just offered a comprehensive test and I have all the numbers.

Thanks so much
Tish Iorio, Doswell, VA

ANSWER: Hello Tish,
At this point I don't think I need a complete water analysis.  However, I would encourage you to get one so that you will have it for future reference should something else come up.   Currently the reason you have such a high Copper concentration in your water is that your water pH is acidic and is literally eating the copper pipes.  The last thing you want to consider is muratic acid!!  That would lower the pH even more.

You basically have the same issue that my wife and I have on our country home.  Our well water has a pH of 5.0 and we have a considerable number of copper pipes.  What you need to do is install a water neutralizer.  Here is what I am talking about:
http://www.reverseosmosis.com/products/Viseon-Calcite-Filter-System-%252d-Acid-N

This unit uses a Calcite (calcium carbonate) which should not violate your ban on chemicals at your farm.  At least the spirit of your not wanting to use chemicals.  I say that because Calcite is a naturally occurring mineral that is found in most water supplies and is not harmful in any way.

This system is very easy to operate and requires very little maintenance - just have to add calcite every 4-6 months, depending on your water usage.

This should completely take care of your problem.  Also: at this point I see no reason to add chlorine.  Do you have a well or are you on city water?

Good luck,
Steve

Environmental Engineer
General Contractor

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

QUESTION: Oops, I need to raise the ph.  It is now 5.9 according to the tests taken by Virgina Tech U.

I talked to my well man and he says the Calcite is a problem with an on demand hotwater heater.  The Calcium gets converted to little beads that come in the water and block up the heater.

Could this system be put on after the heater?  I realize that water would not be ph raised but it would be easier to change just the hot water copper pipe to plastic.
Thanks
Tish Iorio

Might be cheaper in the long run to change the pipes out.  Understand that the new CPVC plastic is safe.

Thanks

ANSWER: Hi Tish,
I'm not sure what you mean when you say "Oops I need to raise the pH"  I thought that all the time.  
What is the metallurgical composition of your on-demand hot water heater?  I would probably not recommend running low pH water through this equipment.  Generally, these heaters have a very low tolerance for scaling and corrosion, and you may wind up destroying the unit.   You may want to consider a chemical feed system.  I know you have said you don't want to use any chemicals but you have to be reasonable with some of those decisions as they relate to water chemistry in my opinion.
For instance you can set up a system to feed a solution of baking soda (soda ash) to raise the pH and, because Sodium has a much higher solubility than Calcium, there shouldn't be a problem with the hot water heater.  Let me know if this is something you would be interested in and I will give you information.  I didn't realize you had an on demand h.w. heater in my first answer or I wouldn't have recommended a calcite neutralizer.  Please include any other things that may relate to your system so I have all the information upfront.
Thanks,
Steve

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

QUESTION: Hope you had a great vacation and it was cooler where you were than here!

My Navien is all stainless steel inside.

When I was in Annapolis I talked with a friend about his system as we both had the same ph problems in MD.  He has a very old Sears 'Neutralizer'.  He got it second hand from a friend some years ago.  It is about the size of an oxygen tank cylinder.  I stopped at Sears and they no longer carry one and we tried to find out who made it for Kemore but with no success.  They carry all the parts...the salesman suggested I buy the parts and build one!!!!  He was helpful however.

So I went on line looking just for a neutralizer with no success.  With  my very limit knowledge it was difficult to find just a neutralizer without a system that does a lot of other things.  My well man says my water is just about pure, thus, he says, the reason for the acidity.

I am afraid you are my life line here.  The results of the tests from VA Tech were as follows: all mg/L
Iron .074; Manganese .006; Hardness 21; sulfate 6; flouride ND; total dissolved solikds 60; ph 5.9; sodium 3.79; nitrate-N 2.355; Arsenic ND; coppper .026; lead .006

At First draw: copper 4.768; lead .041   These seem to be my problem areas due to the copper pipes and low PH.

Thanks so much
Tish Iorio

Answer
Hi Tish,
I was in the Rocky Mountains and it was great.  Warmer than normal but still much cooler than a lot of the country and also not nearly as humid!  We, here in North Carolina, have had a pretty nice summer so far.  Not nearly as hot as normal (it's been averaging 85).  We have had a lot more rain than usual so it's more humid but I'll take it over the mid 90's we usually have this time of year.

The neutralizer you mention from Sears is exactly the same type of system that I told you about in my original answer.  My wife and I have used a neutralizer at our house for the past 13 years and have had no problems.  It has prevented us from having to replace all the copper piping in our home which would have been incredibly expensive!

The only issue you face with a neutralizer is your on demand hot water heater.  It is my opinion that, since your water is so pure, that it would only require a very small amount of the calcite to neutralize the water and therefore it would not pose a problem for the h.w. heater.  Your water has a TDS (total dissolved solids) of 60ppm.  I have never seen well water this pure.  I've seen some water that is close but not this low.  You are very fortunate!!  The type of neutralizer that is generally recommended is one that combines Calcite with Corosex in a 90/10 formulation.  However, I would not recommend using any Corosex for your neutralizer because of the quality of your water.  You would probably wind up with a pH that is too high.  You should go with 100% calcite.

Here is a good product:

http://www.plumbingsupply.com/neutral.html   You would want product #n210.  There are other companies that supply neutralizers and you can certainly shop around.  I have used this particular unit on several applications with good success.  

So, I hope this answers your questions.  Let me know if you have any questions or concerns.

Steve
Environmental Engineer
General Contractor  

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Steve Young

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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.

Experience

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.

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

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BS Environmental Eng.

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