The following details some of the most common water treatment issues...

Hard Water

What is hard water?

Waters that contains dissolved minerals, such as calcium and magnesium above certain levels are considered "hard water" Because water is considered a "solvent", i.e., over time it can break down the ionic bonds that hold most substances together, it tends to dissolve and 'gather up' small amounts of whatever it comes in contact with. For instance, in areas of the world where rock such as limestone, gypsum, fluorspar, magnetite, pyrite and magnesite are common, well water is usually very high in calcium content, and therefore considered "hard".  Hard water is the most common problem found in the average home. Hard water is water that contains dissolved hardness minerals above 1 grain of hardness per gallon (GPG) or about 17 parts per million of hardness.

What are hardness minerals?

Calcium, manganese and magnesium are the most common.

How do you measure hardness?

Parts per million or grains per gallon are the most common unit to measure hardness. One part per million (PPM) is just what it says: out of one million units, one unit. Grains, or grains per gallon (GPG) is a weight measurement taken from the Egyptians; one dry grain of wheat, or about 1/7000 of a pound. It takes 17.1 PPM to equal 1 GPG.

Why should hard water concern me?

For many uses, it would not matter. For instance, to put out fires, wash the mud off the streets or float your boat, water would have to be pretty hard to cause a problem. But for bathing, washing dishes and clothes, shaving, washing your car, and for most commercial and industrial uses, as well as others, hard water is not as efficient or convenient as "soft water." For instance:

  • You generally use only 50% as much soap cleaning with soft water or with water where the effects of hardness have been neutralized, as you do with hard water.
  • Hard water and soap combine to form "soap scum" that can't be rinsed off, forming a 'bathtub ring' on all surfaces and  leaving unsightly spots on your dishes, fixtures, etc..
  • The soap scum remains on your skin even after rinsing, clogging the pores of your skin and coating every hair on your body. This can serve as a home for bacteria, causing diaper rash, minor skin irritation and skin that continually itches.
  • When hard water is heated, the hardness minerals are re-crystallized to form hardness scale. This scale can clog your pipes and hot water heater, causing premature failure, and necessitating costly replacement.
  • For many industrial uses, the hardness minerals interfere with the industrial or commercial process, causing inferior product.

Who will test my water for hardness?

If you are connected to a municipal supply, call the Water Superintendent, or your municipality.  They can either provide the answer, or direct you to the proper individual.  Remember the conversion factor: it takes 17.1 PPM to equal 1 GPG. In other words, if your water has 171 PPM calcium in it, divide 171 by 17.1 to get the answer in grains. This example would be 10 grains, or GPG. If you are on a private supply, you could contact your county extension agent; collect a sample in an approved container and send to the city or state health department for testing; find a testing lab (try the yellow pages); or call a water conditioning company.

By the way, if you are on a private well, YOU, AND YOU ALONE are responsible for the safety of the water you and your family drink. You should test your supply for bacteria at least once per year and other contaminants at least every three years -- more often under certain conditions.

My water is hard - Now what?

If your water tests over 1 GPG hardness, you should condition it with a Triangular Wave Deposit Control System.

The Triangular Wave System for neutralizing hardness and preventing the formation of lime deposits uses an electronic deposit controller; no salt or other chemicals are added to the water.

The Triangular Wave System will:

  1. Give the benefits of soft water without adding salt or removing health giving minerals.
  2. Prevent any further hard scale buildup in and on water equipment and fixtures.
  3. Remove existing scale that is inside the water system.
  4. Soften the existing hard scale around taps, basins, and toilets.
  5. Reduce soap scum and improve the lather of soap.
  6. Make the water feel silkier.
  7. Reduce the harsh effects of hard water on skin and clothes.
  8. Reduces water spotting on fixtures and surfaces in contact with the water.
  9. Provides a much more environmentally friendly solution to hard water; no salts or chemicals.
  10. The water will taste better as pipes will be cleared of both mineral and biological deposits.
  11. Plants that receive the treated water will grow better.

Water with Odors ...

My water stinks! What can I do?

First, you must learn a little about your nose: Once you smell some thing, your sense of smell can be dulled for a short while, and you can't make accurate judgments of smell. For instance, if I blindfold you, let you smell gasoline, hand you a piece of onion to eat and tell you it is an apple, you can't tell it's not because your nose isn't working properly!! (Your sense of taste isn't working either -- smell and taste are closely related and affect each other!) So, to correctly analyze your problem, you need to become a detective.

The best time to locate the smell is after you have been away from home for a few hours -- this allows your nose to become sensitive to "that smell" again. With your 'sensitized' nose, go to an outside spigot -- one that the raw, untreated water flows from. Turn it on, let it run a few minutes, then smell it. If it smells -- we found it. If not, we must look further. (Many, many smells are not in the raw water at all, they are introduced into the water inside the house.)

Go to a cold, treated water spigot inside the house, turn it on and let it run a minute; then smell. If this water smells, and the outside, untreated water didn't -- you must have a device (cartridge filter, water softener, etc.) in the water line that needs to be cleaned and sanitized. If it is a cartridge, or 'string' filter, replace the element and sanitize the housing. If you have a water conditioner call the Company where you bought the unit for advise on how to sanitize the unit.

If the cold, treated water inside didn't smell, turn on the hot water and let it run a few minutes -- does it smell? If it does, chances are you have a sacrificial anode inside your hot water heater that is "coming apart at the seams" and throwing off a "rotten egg" odor. This obnoxious smell will drive you right out of your shower!

The only solution is to remove the anode from the heater, voiding your warranty, or replace it with a new one made with aluminum alloy. This anode is placed in a (glass lined) hot water heater to seal up any cracks in the glass lining and prevent corrosion of the heater tank.

You will find the anode on the top of the heater; remove the tin cover and insulation -- look for what looks like a pipe plug -- about 3/4 inch in size with a 1 1/16"fitting. Turn off the heat source and the water; have someone hold the tank to prevent it from turning, and unscrew the "plug". You will find that the 'plug' has a 30 - 40 " long pipe (or what's left of one) attached to it. Hopefully, most of the rod is still attached -- just corroded. If so, replace the plug with a real pipe plug and throw the anode away. If part of the rod has corroded off, and fallen into the heater, you may have to try to fish it out. Either way, before you plug the hole, pour about 2 pints of chlorine bleach into the heater first. This will kill the smell left in the heater. If, after a week or so, the smell returns, you must fish out the rod that is in the bottom of the tank. Good Luck!

OK, it's my raw water that smells - Now what?

First you must determine what is causing the smell, and how strong it is.

Minor, Musty Smell

If it is a minor, or low-level smell, you MIGHT be able to solve it with a small, point-of-use Triangular Wave Counter Top or Under-Counter KDF / Carbon filter. You can place these filters on the water line going to the cold water where you draw you drinking water. Or, you might solve it with a Triangular Wave Whole-House KDF / Carbon ilter on your incoming water line to filter all of the water inside your home.

Because carbon removes smells by Absorbtion, i.e., the smell "sticks" or "adheres" to the carbon particles, you must be careful not to exceed the manufactures recommended flow - some filters even have a flow restriction built in them. If you run water through them too fast, you will not remove the smells.

The KDF process filter media help protect the carbon from bacterial contamination.   Carbon filters remove organics from water, and the bacteria found in water like to eat organics -- the carbon filter is a nice, dark place, just full of food for them to grow and reproduce in. Patented KDF process media are 100 percent recyclable and contain no chemical additives. Hospitals, restaurants, municipal water treatment facilities, and homes rely on KDF process media to safely reduce or remove chlorine, iron, hydrogen sulfide, heavy metals, and bacteria from their water. 

KDF process media control microorganisms in two ways. The first is a by-product of redox; the exchange of electrons sets up an electrolytic field in which most microorganisms can't survive. Second, the process of forming hydroxyl radicals and peroxides from some of the water molecules interferes with the microorganisms' ability to function.

Strong, Rotten-Egg Smell

Strong, rotten-egg odors in the raw water is usually the result of the decomposition of decaying underground organic deposits. As water is drawn to the surface, hydrogen sulfide gas can be released to the atmosphere. In strong concentrations, this gas is flammable and poisonous. It rapidly tarnishes silver, turning it black. It is toxic to aquarium fish in sufficient quantities. As little as 0.5 ppm hydrogen sulfide can be tasted in your drinking water.

Strong, Musty Smell

If you are unlucky enough to have this problem, you should consider the Triangular Wave Whole-House KDF / Carbon Filter System or look for a company that has local experience in dealing with this problem. There are ways to solve this problem for homeowners. 

Filters - installation of a Triangular Wave Whole-House filter with KDF and granular activated carbon media is successful many times for hydrogen sulfide removal.  The copper in the KDF media reacts with the hydrogen sulfide to form copper sulfide and water.  The copper sulfide is insoluble in water and can be backwashed out of the Whole-House Filter. 

Other filter systems are available.   These types of filters must be recharged with chlorine or potassium permanganate. The removal capacities of these types of filters are usually fairly low, and must be sized to contain enough media to prevent premature exhaustion, and subsequent passage of the smell to service. It is also typical that the amount of hydrogen sulfide can fluctuate rapidly, causing great difficulty in sizing the unit. In addition, potassium permanganate is extremely "messy", and will leave stains that are very difficult to remove.

Aeration - consists of breaking the incoming water into small droplets (spray) into the air, drawing fresh air through that spray, collecting the water into a storage tank, repressurize the water, passing it through a particulate filter to catch any particles that might be carried out of the storage tank. The air drawn though the spray must be vented outside the house -- remember, it is toxic and explosive. Although this system necessitates another pump to repressurize your supply, you are not adding any chemicals to your water, which makes it attractive. This system is low maintenance and no chemicals to purchase. Initial cost may be higher, however, and space requirements may be greater.

Water that Stains

I have red stains in my sinks and other fixtures - Help!

Red stains are normally caused by iron in the water. You must test to determine the amount and the type of iron you have. Some types are: oxidized, soluble, colloidal, bacteria or organic-bound. All are a problem! It only takes 0.3 ppm to stain clothes, fixtures, etc.


This type of iron is usually found in a surface water supply. This is water that contains red particles when first drawn from the tap. The easiest way to remove this type of iron is by a Triangular Wave Deposit Control System in combination with a fine mechanical filter. A cartridge type filter is usually not a good solution, due to the rapid plugging of the element. The Triangular Wave Deposit Control System will help the filter function better.  Another method or removal is by feeding a chemical into the water to cause the little particles of iron to clump together, and then fall to the bottom of a holding tank, where they can be flushed away.


Soluble iron is called "clear water" iron. After being drawn form the well and contacting the air, the iron oxidizes, or "rusts", forming reddish brown particles in the water. Depending on the amount of iron in the water, you may solve this problem with a Triangular Wave Deposit Control System and a KDF / Carbon Filter.  The Triangular Wave system conditions the iron particles and keeps them suspended in the water.  The KDF media alloys function as catalysts to change soluble ferrous cations (positively-charged ions) into insoluble ferric hydroxide, which can be removed with regular backwashing. With enough oxygen dissolved in the water, iron removal rates of 98 percent or better are common.  You also may use an iron filter that recharges with chlorine or potassium permanganate, or feed chemicals to oxidize the iron and then filter it with a mechanical filter. You can sometimes hide the effects of soluble iron by adding chemicals that, in effect, coat the iron in the water and prevent it from reaching oxygen and oxidizing.


Colloidal iron is very small particles of oxidized iron suspended in the water. They are usually bound together with other substances. They resist agglomeration, ie, the combining together of like substances forming larger, heavier, more filterable ones, due to the static electrical charge they carry. This iron looks more like a color than particles when held up in a clear glass, as they are so small.

Treatment is usually one of two: Feed chlorine to oxidize the organic away from the iron, thus allowing agglomeration to occur, or, feeding polymers that attract the static charge on the particles, forming larger clumps of matter that is filterable.


Iron bacteria are living organisms that feed on the iron found in the water, pipes, fittings, etc. They build slime all along the water flow path. Occasionally, the slimy growths break free, causing extremely discolored water. If a large slug breaks loose, it can pass through to the point of use, plugging fixtures. These types of bacteria are becoming more common throughout the United States. If you suspect bacteria iron, look for a reddish or green slime buildup in your toilet flush tank. To confirm your suspicions, gather a sample of this slime and take it to your local health department, or water department for observation under the microscope.

This type of iron problem can be treated with a combination of a Triangular Wave Deposit Control System and a Triangular Wave Ultraviolet Disinfection System. You must kill the bacteria, using the UV disinfection system where the water enters the building. The Triangular Wave Deposit Control System will condition the water and the conditioned water will dissolve, over time, the slime coating on the pipe walls.  The combined deposit control / UV system will work  continuously to prevent regrowth. A filter alone will not solve this problem.

Organic Bound

When iron combines with tannins and other organics, complexes are formed that cannot be removed by ion exchange or oxidizing filters. This iron may be mistaken for colloidal iron. Test for tannins; if they are present, it is most likely combined with the iron. Low level amounts of this pest can be removed by use of a combination Triangular Wave Deposit Control System and KDF / Carbon filter, which absorbs the complex. You must replace the carbon bed when it becomes saturated. Higher amounts require feeding ozone or chlorine to oxidize the organics to break apart from the iron and cause both to precipitate into a filterable particle.

I have blue or green stains on my fixtures - Help!

You either have copper in your water supply, or you have copper pipes and corrosive water. Test for copper in your water. Test the pH, total dissolved solids content and the oxygen content of your water.


Copper can be removed by a Triangular Wave KDF / Carbon filter. The removal rate is about the same as it is for iron.

Copper Pipes and Corrosive Water

If your pH is from 5 to 7, you may raise it by passing the water through a sacrificial media such as calcite (calcium carbonate).  By sacrificing calcium carbonate into the water, the pH of the water will be increased and the corrosively will be reduced. Be sure to install a Triangular Wave Deposit Control system downstream of the calcite to prevent calcium carbonate scale form forming on the pipes and water appliances.   If the pH is below 5, you will need to feed chemicals into the water. If the corrosively is caused by excess oxygen, the hot water will be much more corrosive than the cold. Treatment is by feeding polyphosphate or silicates to coat and protect the plumbing, or to aerate the water to release the excess oxygen.