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Question DetailsAsked on 11/17/2016

i am looking to buy the water system for the hole house, but i really dont know what to buy

i do have heavy water, and a lot of clorine

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2 Answers


I am assuming you mean you need to buy "the water treatment system for the whole house", and probably if your water is real hard (but not necessarily, depending on area) are on well water - or perhaps a small local private water system.

If you actually meant water system - as in the entire system selection for a new build, discuss it with your architect - but in a real hard water area forced air heating rather than boiler and steam or hot water is a lot simpler though somewhat less efficient (though those can be done using an isolated system running an antifreeze solution), and I would recommend plastic pipes - so since I abhor PEX, I would say CPVC for the water lines.

Hopefully you do not have "heavy water", the material in the news that Iran has accumulated more of than allowed by the new nuclear weapons limitation treaty with them - I doubt you are building a nuclear refining operation in your basement. You undoubtedly mean "hard water". The dissolved mineral content in the water is measured as "hardness", commonly comprised mainly of varying amounts of iron, manganese, calcium, magnesium, and calcium compounds - with calcium and magnesium carbonates from the water passing through and picking up minerals from chalk, limestone, or dolomite normally being the major component though in some areas iron algae is the main culprit. So normally the worst hard water areas are those in ancient ocean deposits or large dried up lakebeds (thing Death Valley), though it can occur in mined areas, some volcanic areas, desert areas, and scattered other geology as well. Also, well water is far more commonly the source of hard water, thouse some surface waters (especially in drier areas) also has the problem.

These dissolved minerals are what normally make for the spotting on dishes, the feeling on your skin that you are not "squeeky clean", the need for more soap and sometimes additional additives to clean dishes and clothes and yourself, and buildup of "scale" in the pipes and water heater and boilers, which can eventually block them. Imagine the deposits around hot springs like at Yellowstone - those travertine deposits are an extreme example of "scale" deposited from mineral-containing hot water as it cools or contacts air - pretty much what happens in your pipes if you have very hard water. hard water is very common across the country, especially the midwest and southwest.

Below is a link to an article with a chart on the varying degrees of "hardness" - normally anything over about 60 ppm is considered by at least some users to be "hard", over about 100-120 ppm generally you see noticeable scale buildup on appliances and fixtures and serious dishwasher and clothes washer issues and many people notice a "sticky" or "crinkly" feel on the skin like when you dry off after being in salt water, so at that level and above most people feel they need water treatment. Over about 200-240 ppm you typically get serious pipe buildup and noticeably shortened water heater and dishwasher life and, unless you add special water softening chemicals in the wash, "gray" clothes and very noticeable spotting and scale on dishwasher washed or air-dried glasses and dishes.

If you have excess chlorine, as in high free chlorine levels, the cause should be determined and hopefully remedied. Rarely this can be found in natural groundwater (predominately in oilfield areas and along the Gulf coast region, and some volcanic regios with hot springs), but normally free chlorine results from adding chlorine to the water supply for disinfection purposes - using chlorine gas or powdered or pellitized hypochlorate or similar compounds - the latter is what is used in household chlorination systems and pool chlorine systems usually too, to avoid the hazard from a chlorine gas system. Generally, in drinking water, it is designed to leave the process at about 1 to 4 ppm (parts per million) in the water, with the intent of reaching the consumption point (dissipates and degrades along the way) at about 0.3-0.5 ppm desired, and targeting not more than 1 ppm in drinking water. US Federal delivery limit (Maximum Residual Disinfection Limit, or MRDL) is 4 ppm - amounts up to about 50-150ppm have been shown to not have measureable adverse health effects in testing.

Rather than high chlorine I suspect you mean a high "chlorides" count - meaning high mineral salts, common in drier regions like west texas and the southwest. Also can be introduced into the groundwater by mixing with salt water (due to ocean proximity, deep salt water mixing naturally, or due to well-caused cross-contamination), or by agricultural activities such as irrigation washing salts into the groundwater. Also by winter salting of roads contaminating shallow aquifers.

For Angies List sources of information, in addition to a touch in the following recent question which includes some links to other similar questions, you can find quite a few more in the Home > Water Treatment link in Browse Projects, at lower left.

You can also google this search phrase - about the first 6 results (everything before the link address starts off with "answers") for Angies List articles on water treatment and water softening.

Other sources for recommendations on type of system to use - and you likely are going to need both a removal system for "hardness" and maybe also a salt reduction unit, or perhaps an additional oxygenation unit if indeed you have high free chlorine:

0) talk to neighbors pulling from the same water source - to find out what they use and how well they like their system, realizing you will hit some outliers so you need opinions from a fair number to get a feel for the "average" answer

1) county health department or perhaps county engineer's office commonly has info on general water treatment needs in your area

2) Well and Pump contractors sometimes can provide basic info on commonly needed treatment for well water in your area, if you have one for servicing your well - some also sell and install such equipment, so bear in mind they will likely recommend the same system for most applications, not necessarily the best. I remember one area in Ohio where EVERYONE (including municipal systems) used the same type of system with poor results until the Feds paid for a regional water quality study which showed the treatment method being used was about the worst possible for those water conditions, and changing from a salt to a resin based system with the right chemistry dramatically improved the results at little cost increase.

3) country agricultural agent or state agriculture or geology department usually has reports on well water quality and water quality issues and common treatment for different areas in the state, sometimes in great detail (well-by-well) in severe water quality problem areas - or if your area has a water conservation district or such, then them

4) civil engineering firms experienced in site development and water / septic system design can also provide professional testing and evaluation of your situation - will be a more "professional" opinion than well and pump contractors or neighbors, but also probably about $500-100 more for professional services and detailed water quality test so while it will usually get you the best designed system is normally not done except for new subdivisions in untested areas.

5) of course water treatment contractors - but be aware most of them sell only one or maybe 2 types of systems, so they tend to say their is what you need when nit may or may not be the best - or in many cases even a real "treatment" system at all - there are a lot of scam systems out there touting magical ionization or electrolytic or magnetic suspension or such that have been shown to be no more effective than the magnets-around-the-gasline systems claiming to vastly increase your car's gas mileage. Also, someone trying to sell you a water treatment system is NOT necessarily looking out for you - many, especially a lot of the franchise schemes, are out for quick sales only.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD



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Answered 3 years ago by Member Services

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