Well Water Filter Basics
July 1, 2017 7:11 AM   Subscribe

Recently purchased home has a well and a defective water filtration system. It's a point-of-entry system: chlorine tank, (carbon?) filtration tank, salt bin, and a couple of big mystery tanks. It's not working. We have to decide to repair or replace. Where can we find out more about optimal home water filtration, other than the companies who want to sell us their products?

Our filtration system guy is overworked, and we are clearly not his priority: two months of hings that SHOULD work, and the water is actually getting worse. So we've begun our own investigation. It seems the problem is the (carbon) tank, as the well water smells fine, but water checked after this tank is putrid. It sat in the sun unused for a year, so we've been advised by plumber that this tank is essentially a big container of algea. Two months of daily use of water, and an intense chlorine purge, hasn't refreshed the tank, so the simple (and most cost effective) solution seems to be to replace this tank.

We've got a new guy coming out to look at it and give us an estimate. But he's suggested that the chlorine-based system is outdated, and that the new preferred treatment doesn't require monthly servicing, just addition of a new salt block now and then. I've been trying to find non-sales oriented well water filtration information: health department or CDC or similar, but after very basic info, these websites suggest contacting a well contractor or similar for more information. This feels to me like trying to find out basic transportation information and being referred to Ford or Chevy. There's a pretty good bet what the solution from a company selling the product is going to be: every company will have the best solution, with "studies" to back them up.

Is there some source available online where I can get basic non-biased information on the types of systems and what I should be looking for? Special snowflake details: I have systemic lupus, and we can't move in until we get the water thing settled. (Nor would we want to. The water reeks.) Is it a better investment for me to replace a component, or the whole thing? (Age os system unknown, but it's at least several years.)
posted by Nancy_LockIsLit_Palmer to Home & Garden (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: You should be able to Google for "Filtration Theory" to get an overview of what is going on.

There are limited numbers of house filter manufacturers and a bunch of companies that rebrand those basic components. Can you identify the manufacturer of the filter and then look up their maintenance/installation manual? Filters are simple things and designed to be maintained/installed easily.

It may be that you need to physically dump the media and clean the vessel. Replacement Granular Activated Charcoal (GAC) is about $4/lb.

It may be cheaper/easier to just buy a new vessel with the media installed.

http://www.waterfilters.net seems to have reasonable prices on parts as does Home Depot.
posted by pdoege at 8:51 AM on July 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The first source for information that I could think of is Garden Web forums. Here are the results of a query specific to well water filters. A post on that site directed me to Terry Love's site, which includes well water-specific forums. The caveat with that site, according to a Garden Web post is "The forum strongly supports something unrelated to water quality issues called a cycle stop valve (CSV). Please be aware that several of the members have a financial interest in these devices. Other than that, it is a great forum."

Now, a personal anecdote that may or may not apply to where you live: We owned two new homes with private wells while we were in Maine. While the water was generally really good (in one case part of the aquifer serving Poland Spring), it's up to the homeowner to monitor water quality. We did this using mail-in water testing kits. For most of the time, the water tested fine, and since it was a deep, drilled well we didn't have odor issues.

In the case of both wells, when the time came to sell the homes we discovered contamination. Both, in different towns showed unacceptable levels of coliform bacteria. We treated this ourselves. The last well also showed unacceptable levels of arsenic, which required a more sophisticated filter.

Bottom line is no matter where you live, your state should have well water information resources (here's the one for Florida), and when it comes to filter systems it's buyer beware.
posted by SteveInMaine at 3:31 PM on July 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

Kinico, google them best system there is
posted by patnok at 5:01 PM on July 1, 2017

County extension agent?
posted by Pressed Rat at 7:14 PM on July 2, 2017

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