Well Water and Water Softners

Updated on October 03, 2011
K.K. asks from Traverse City, MI
11 answers

mama's.....after 20 years of city water and no worries, we are moving to a home that has 50 year old copper pipes and well water.
The owner had a water softner...and frankly I know absolutely nothing about them or how they work or when to tell if they aren't working. We are in the middle of full on remodel but will be living there in like 10 days. we noticed rusty stains in the dishwasher. so we bought "rust buster" salt for the water softener. the water appears to be clear...but yikes does it smell! what the hell do we do? isn't the water softner supposed to be fixing that kind of stuff? We're leaving PERFECT water for this....it'll make all of us miserable. but I have absolutely no idea where to start. all I know is we have a well, city sewer and an artesian well that is capped. does this mean anything to anyone? and does anyone have water they've had luck fixing?
please help!!

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So What Happened?

So I had culligan come out and found out that A.) the water softner isn't actually working correctly and B.) even if it was it would only remove lime and calcium from the water...not the rust and sulfur (the source of the smell). He wanted me to rent a system from him that would be installed before the water softner to remove the rust and sulfur. $40 a month for a year. I wonder if you can buy such things outright instead of renting them? anyway. this is what I have. Is culligan the only way to fix it? any do it yourself ways?

More Answers


answers from San Antonio on

oh girl. my husband's the better one to answer this question but he's in bed already. If it were me, I'd go knock on my new neighbor's door and ask them for help. Bring a batch of fresh baked cookies with you. They'll likely give you the name/number of the best well guy in the area. But if they're in the same situation as you - well water, city sewer, etc, they should know the right product to use. But it sounds to me that you need someone to come out there and teach to you exactly how your machines work. Each device is different and it's best to find someone who can cater to your specific situation.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

your getting sulfur in your well water. Nothing as far as a water softner will fix the smell. SUCKS I know I lived with well water dang near my whole life. If I didnt stink like rotten eggs I had rust stains in everything and lime deposit. The only thing that helped was Culligan. They came and put a filter on all the drinking faucets and the laundry taps. Cut the smell almost nil. Not the cheapest monthly bill but it was that or deal with the stink. Sulfur wont hurt you there fore there isnt much to do about it. I agree with the other posters, its best to find a company that digs wells and works with them to come and test your water. Since you own the well nobody will test it for you. Its not likely the old owners tested it either, its best to understand what kind of water your working with. Artisan wells are those that are deep and connect directly with ground water, and capped simply means its got some type of cap on the top of the well to keep anything from falling into it. If you need to fix something such as the pump head or your well was concrete lined and its falling apart you need to re-dig or re line and then you need to call a company that can take the cap off. You generally cant do it yourself.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

Troy said it is probably sulfur, does it kinda smell like rotten eggs? A water softener only removes specific minerals. You may want to consider a reverse osmosis whole house filter. I know if I didn't have county water I would have one.

I asked Troy because his old house had god awful water. :p

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Tulsa on

call your county water office and ask them to come test your well just for your piece of mind. it should be totally free. they also can recommend other things specific to your area.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I had a neighbor that had sulphur in his well and that sounds like what you are describing.

An artesian well is a well that flows on its own. No pump needed. Some times an artesian well is just barely flowing and some times it will geyser like old fathful in Yellowstone. Before so many people moved to California and lowered the water table, there were hundreds of artesian wells in San Bernardino Valley. The water from wells varies from location to location. You could have stinky water and your neighbor 1/4 mile away could have sweet drinking water. You never know.

We had very hard water out of our well, but our neighbor had relatively soft water but lots of sulphur. We drank our water as is from the well, but he had a water service and all kinds of filters on his water to make it useable.

Good luck to you and yours.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dayton on

We used to live on a old farm. It had horrible smelling, rusty water. It is sulfur.
I know my parents had a water softener put in and it seems like another thing too. Something we had to put bleach in to make it work.

Sorry that is horrible info. But I know there is something you can do...

Looks like these guys might be all around the U.S.. They are who had the product we used (type in your zip and see): http://www.culligan.com/en/

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

We have a water softener (removes a lot of the minerals but not all - the rust buster salt works best), a filter (It back washes every night on a timer) and a small chlorine tank (takes out the sulfur smell - we fill it with water when it's half empty and put 2-3 cups of bleach into it at that time).
With all that, the water you get is ok to wash and bathe in, but drinking it still needs one more thing which is a reverse osmosis filter we have installed under the kitchen sink (a line from that tank also feeds to the ice maker in the fridge).
We're happy with what we got from Culligan although there are other companies that do home water systems.
It's not hard to learn how to maintain your system.
I was on city water my whole life till I moved here 7 years ago.
With the water being way softer than any city water I'd been on before I had to learn to cut way back on the amount of detergent I was use to using for laundry.
You'll be fine.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

each water softner was installed by someone who should know what to do call the company that installed it and have them come look at it i do know yearly the softner is suppose to have the chrystals changed in it so your water doesn't get rusty n from the sounds of it it hasn't been changed the guy probably didn't do it knowing he was selling, also the smell is fint with a softner hardly noticable if the water softner is up on maintance. also use iron out to get rid of rust stains. good luck.


each water softner was installed by someone who should know what to do call the company that installed it and have them come look at it i do know yearly the softner is suppose to have the chrystals changed in it so your water doesn't get rusty n from the sounds of it it hasn't been changed the guy probably didn't do it knowing he was selling, also the smell is fint with a softner hardly noticable if the water softner is up on maintance. also use iron out to get rid of rust stains. good luck.



answers from Pittsburgh on

I grew up with well water. No smell at all.
My brothers house currently has a well and his water is stinky. He also has a water softener but that's because the water is very hard. Many companies will gladly sell you snake oil (softening system) that they know won't "fix" the smell.
Call the best plumber/well drilling company you know and get some advice asap.
Ask about a permanganate filter. And ask about other filters used in your area.
The sulfur-smelling water won't "hurt" you but it is gross. ;(



answers from Detroit on

Best solution? Go online and Google in Amway Water Treatment System. Don't go cheap and get Brita and the reason is that Brita has charcoal GRANULES. What will catch 99%+ of impurities and crud is the Amway Filter because it has a BLOCK of charcoal. With granules, what goes through goes through a lot faster. With a block the stuff is captured, and therefore not going into you. You can get a counter top or a below sink. And just confidentially, I ordered a counter top model when I moved to my current place. And when the guy came to set it up, it wasn't going to fly. So he ended up making it a below the sink! And that 's the one that costs more. Both aren't cheap, but you're getting more bang for your buck. And de;pending on how often you use it, you only need to replace the filter carbon every couple of years. If you're cooking food, drinking, watering your pet...that's the route to go.
The issue with bottled water is that you don't know how long it's been sitting until it's used. That's not all that good for you either. The good thing with this water treatment system is that you use what you wash with, only it filters out the gunk and it doesn't sit on the shelf.
Good luck!



answers from Detroit on

If you have a Home Depot nearby, they will test your water. It may be that you need a new water softner and Home Depot can help with that.

Getting an RO system for your drinking water will make the water more appealing. I am on well water and have been for over 19 years. I love my RO system.

Do you know how old the well is? Depending on the age of the well, you may need to have a new one.

It is an adjustment from city water to well water.

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