Acid Neutralizing

Since at least 2000 BCE., civilizations have learned to filter their drinking water. The earliest water filtration included physical features, like sand and gravel. Around 1500 BCE, water filtration branched out from physical to chemical treatment with coagulation. Hippocrates created the first filter sleeve in 500 BCE after discovering the importance of water to the human body. Clean water has always been pivotal in the survival of the humans; therefore, water purification and filtration has always been at the forefront of technological advances.

A form of water filtration, water neutralization, doesn't actually filter out particular substances, but adds minerals to the water which dissolve creating a chemical reaction to improve low water pH levels. The pH abbreviation refers to potential of hydrogen in aqueous (water) solutions. Potential hydrogen is measured on the logarithmic pH scale ranging from 0 to 14 which measures the concentration of hydrogen ions. Each one unit change on the pH scale corresponds to a ten-fold change in the hydrogen ion concentration. Any pH values lower than 7 on the scale have more hydrogen ions and are considered acidic and any pH values higher than 7 on the scale have more hydroxide ions and are considered alkaline. Water is pH balanced when it is perfectly neutral or at a pH level of 7.

How pH affects water

Water from lakes, rivers, springs or wells contain minerals, sediments and particles with their own pH levels that affect the overall pH level of the water. Water that is too acidic, or is at a level below 7, can cause damage over time to a plumbing system. In addition to being highly corrosive, acidic water can cause green, blue or red colored stains on plumbing fixtures and the surfaces around the fixtures due to the deteriation of the pipe leaching into the water. Acid neutralizers work to balance the water pH level.

Acid neutralizers are equipment that use a variety of components like a fiberglass tank, with top enclosure head, and special media (calcium carbonate and magnesium oxide) to neutralize the water. Acid neutralizers are sized according to the number of occupants and water flow requirements of the home, and the water’s pH level. Simply, acid neutralizers use the dissolved media in the systems tank to neutralize the pH level of the water.

Before purchasing an acid neutralizer, the water should be tested to make sure you buy the right one to correct your pH level. A pH level test can be purchased from an online plumbing supplier, a local hardware or pool supply store. It is best to test for pH on site at the water source. Taking a water sample just a short distance to another location to be tested can cause the pH test to be inaccurate. Installing an acid neutralizer is within the capacity of your average do-it-yourself-er. However, if ever in doubt, contact a local licensed plumbing contractor to ensure the safety of the water.

Installing an Acid Neutralizer

Before installing an acid neutralizer, determine the location for the acid neutralizer. Like a water heater or water softener, the acid neutralizer should be placed on a flat surface, not in direct sunlight, and not exposed to possible freezing conditions. A sediment filter is usually a good idea to install on the inlet side of the acid neutralizer to help prevent sediment build-up in the tank.

Installing an acid neutralizer is not as hard as you might think and no specialty tools are needed.

Common steps to install an acid neutralizer:

  1. Turn off the main line water supply at the meter. If you have a well system, turn off the shut-off valve after the pressure tank. If you don't have a shut-off valve after the pressure tank, then power off the pump and drain the pressure tank.
  2. Turn off the power to any electric water heaters.
  3. Open a faucet, to relieve any water pressure.
  4. Make sure the distribution tube is installed in the media tank.
  5. Tighten the head onto the media tank
  6. Connect the bypass valve to the head.
  7. Connect fittings to the bypass valve.
  8. Connect the head outlet/inlet lines to the piping of the house.
  9. Install the media no more than 3/4 full.
  10. Turn on the main water supply line
  11. Turn on the kitchen faucet both hot and cold water, and let it run to remove any air in the water lines. (the kitchen faucet is normally the highest faucet in the house)
  12. Once you're positive all the air is out of your water piping, turn the electricity back on to the water heater.
  13. Check for leaks.

Typically used on well systems, acid neutralizers provide a bevy of benefits in addition to safe drinking water. The neutralizers can decrease metal contamination and preserve the life of the pipes in the plumbing system, which in turn saves time and money. Maintenance on acid neutralizers is low-key and usually requires the tank to be checked occasionally for the media level in the tank. The media in the tank will slowly be dissolved over time. Since the acid neutralizer works due to the water contact with the media, you want enough media in the tank to properly neutralize the water. If the media is low in the tank, turn of the bypass valve and add more media into the tank. The tank should not be filled more the 3/4 full of media.

Acid neutralization equipment is a conglomeration of components, parts and media.

  • Acid neutralizer parts:
    • Acid neutralizer tank - Typically fiberglass, the tank holds the calcite and other media. When the water makes contact with the calcite in the tank, the acid neutralization process is triggered.
    • Distributor tube - This component comes already installed in the acid neutralization tank and is a replaceable part.
    • In/Out Up-flow head – The head includes a fill port and a removable basket that allows direct access to the distributor tube and allows water to drain from tank without adding or losing the media.
    • Bypass valve – Allows the acid neutralization system to be put into bypass.
    • Fittings – Two adapters are needed for metal pipe installations and two 90-degree elbows are needed for PVC pipe installations.
    • Flow regulator – Regulates the flow of water into the acid neutralization tank at a rate of 5 gpm (gallons per minute).

  • Acid neutralizer media:
    • Calcite – Food grade limestone. Depending on the model, could use two bags of Calcite. The calcite is the media that activates the acid neutralization process.
    • Corosex – Process bead-like magnesium oxide. Corosex neutralizes the free carbon dioxide in water, but must be used with some calcite to prevent the magnesium oxide from clumping together and solidifying.
    • Gravel – Must be food grade gravel. Approximately fifteen pounds are needed.

An alternative to an acid neutralizer would be a chemical feed system. Chemical feed systems would need to be sized and installed by a professional and require much more maintenance than an acid neutralization system. They are highly efficient systems that can address multiple problems at one time with one unit. However, these systems would be overkill for the average residential well system where an acid neutralizer would suffice.

Acid neutralizer equipment, parts, media and components can be purchased here at plumbingsupply.com



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