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  1. #1
    Senior Member
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    May 2008
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    California
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    Water Filter System

    Yesterday morning I completed my water filter system. I will be getting a Vibiemme Domobar Double in the next few weeks and since it can be plumbed, and I am sick of filling and refilling the reservoir and emptying the drip tray, I prepared for its arrival. My water here is from a private ell and has a lot of calcium carbonate so we have been using reverse osmosis water from the blue machines mixed with Brita filtered water. Lugging four gallon bottles of water is a pain, and we aren't getting any younger. The planned arrival of the plumbed machine was the motivation I needed.

    The system consists of two, 10" filters, one with an ion exchange softener and the other a carbon filter.
    Water Filter System-filter1.jpg

    Above is the main part of the plumbing job. The valve to the espresso maker is closed in this pic because I wasn't finished with that portion of the system when I took the picture. That portion was finished yesterday. I can say that working under the house with JG plumbing makes it a lot easier.

    You can see that I have placed a number of valves into the system. These enable me to turn off teh water to any single device in the system without disabling anything else. There are three more valves not shown - One on the input side of the filters that turn off everything, one at the ice maker and one at where the espresso machine will be.

    Even though the plumbed machine is not here, I put the valve for that at the end of the line and can use that like one would use a nozzle at the end of a hose to fill the reservoir of the existing machine.

    The entire planning and installation is detailed on my website.

  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    Mar 2011
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    137
    Did you forget to include a spun-fiber sediment filter? With a home well, that would be my very first stage. Indeed, when I was on wells, I had two sediment stages, as the iron 'muck' would plug up a spun filter well before the other filters were ready to be changed. I had to change the stage 1 filter every 3 months! My setup was:
    Stage 1 Fiber Sediment
    Stage 2 Fiber Sediment
    Stage 3 Activated Carbon
    Stage 4 RO Membrane
    Stage 5 DI Resin Media
    Stage 6 'Finishing/Polishing' chlorine/taste/odor acid-washed carbon

    On city water now (San Francisco has Hetch-Hetchy reservoir water, some of the cleanest, best-tasting water in the country) so I removed a sediment and added another activated carbon in it's place. LOVE those quick-connect plumbing fittings!

  3. #3
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    With RO it is another matter, but this is a simple softening system. I do have a washable, fine nylon mesh, whole-house particle filter though. With the cost of pumping my own water, I decided not to go RO. We don't have iron problems here, and even the straight tap water tastes pretty good. The only reason even adding this is a plumb-in machine will be here soon (?) and the water is high in scaling minerals. SInce I added the whole house filter years ago I have not had to clean the filter screen on the faucets of washing machine. My long-term plan is to replace the softening cartridge with a refillable one that leave me the ability to open it and recharge the beads out of the cartridge which would also give me the chance to check for sediment and wash thee beads. I also have a GH + KH test kit on the way to keep an eye on the softener's performance.

  4. #4
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    Aug 2004
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    Des Moines, Iowa
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    1,552
    alphawave7 have you broke out a TDS meter and checked your water lately?

    Randy G, its possible to recharge softening cartridges but you'll have limited success. I would suggest visiting your local big box hardware store and check out the under the cabinet water softening system. They cost a bit but by the time you plumb it in and add salt your well on your way to recouping your initial installation costs.

    Randy, have another question for you. What is your current water in grains? Was curious to see how long your cartridges will be lasting.
    Have you ever walked through the aisle of your local grocer and smelled the death of a dying bean?

  5. #5
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    My well water varies widely depending on time of year. I have had TDS readings recently of around 85. Nearer the end of summer it will hit 225 or more. A good amount of it is calcium as the faucets and other fixtures get a good, hard coating of white death over time.

    From what I have read and experienced, with ion exchange systems the TDS meter does not give accurate readings since the total hardness remains about the same, with the calcium being replaced by sodium (or potassium depending on the salt used). I have a GH + KH test kit coming to monitor cartridge efficiency. The TDS meter is effective with RO systems becasue with those systems virtually 100% of suspended minerals in the water are removed leaving (nearly) pure H2O.

    My entire system with all the plumbing, including fittings and the run from the sink to the fridge to the espresso machine cost me just over $200 delivered. The softening pot alone would have been $175. The complete under-sink system as I ran it would have run about $375. Later, down the line, if the financial situation improves, I can replace the softening cartridge in the 10" filter with a washable particle filter and add the softening pot between that and the carbon post filter. My thought at this time was to gt something working I could afford to protect the machine but could later update if necessary.

  6. #6
    Senior Member
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    Mar 2011
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    Quote Originally Posted by CCafe View Post
    alphawave7 have you broke out a TDS meter and checked your water lately?
    Several times a month...I use a cheapie/innaccurate pen-style TDS meter (I have two). Their value doesn't lie in their accuracy, so much as their relative readings during comparisons. One says my RO is zero, while the other says 2, with the zero meter indicating my tap is 44ppm, and the 2 meter says 53ppm. I change my filters out when either report 5 after several trials.

  7. #7
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    If your stripping your water past 25ppm your going to create some nasty issues for yourself. I might suggest you pick up a more accurate TDS meter just to be on the safe side. Also get solution to calibrate your current meters. 0 or 2 ppm will destroy your coffee equipment pretty quickly, so I'm assuming that isn't the case.
    Have you ever walked through the aisle of your local grocer and smelled the death of a dying bean?

  8. #8
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    RO water which is very low in TDS is a problem if using it to feed an espresso machine. Of course, if the boiler has a water level sensor then it can read the water level and the boiler will be overfilled and will flood the inside of the machine. Beyond that, I have read warnings that state that if running straight RO to your ice maker to use plastic and not copper lines because the RO water leaches the line and it will eventually leak. Not something you want to do to your espresso machine's boiler. With softening systems, the use of a TDS meter will not tell you anything valuable becasue the ion exchange just trades scaling minerals for non-scaling minerals (primarily calcium and magnesium ions are taken out and replaced with either sodium or potassium. For testing softened water get the "Aquarium Pharmaceuticals GH + KH Test Kit." These sell for about $15 and are good for about 500 tests depending on the hardness of the water tested.

    If you already have an RO system, then the simple thing is to put a post-RO calcite filter cartridge in the line feeding the espresso machine or use a softening cartridge to bleed a bit of softened water into the RO. You can get dual display TDS meters that you can install right in the water line which will read pre and post treatment levels. Placing one of the sensors at the output to the espresso machine and a needle valve to control the mix, you can "custom blend" the water for the espresso machine to taste. Do a eBay search for "inline TDS meter." They are quite affordable.

 

 

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