New home owners needing help with a water softener/system

mommaseedMarch 4, 2011

We are now home owners and very excited! We want to take care of our investment and need help understanding a water system/water softener. The folks here at Gardenweb.com have been so helpful during our building process that when we started talking water softeners, I knew I needed to come here again to get the straight scoop.

Our home is 2,800sf, we are a family of six and we have a jetted tub that is used about three times a week, we run our dishwasher daily and do 1-2 loads of laundry a day.

We live in Texas. Most of our neighbors have a water softener. How do we go about choosing the right softener for our home? And if we soften with salt or potassium, what do we need to do about our drinking water?

Thank you!

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justalurker

Here's water softener 101 ...

Get a water test from an independent lab. An independent lab has no agenda and won't be trying to sell you water treatment equipment. This is a MUST DO because without it everything is a guess. A quickie water test from Sears or a water softener company won't be as accurate (and possibly not as competent) as from a certified independent lab.

If you're on a well a comprehensive water test is even more important because you have to make your water safe and nice. Annual water testing for bacteria and nitrates is a good idea when living on a well.

If you're on a water system the water utility can supply you with the specs of the water AS IT LEAVES their facility but that is not necessarily representative of the water conditions at your water meter.

Hit the Yellow Pages and call at least three local water treatment pros. Make sure you call at least one of the big dogs like Kinetico or Culligan for comparison and at least a couple independent pros. DON'T TELL THEM YOU HAD YOUR WATER TESTED.

Give each an opportunity to offer suggestions and provide you with a quote to meet your water treatment needs. IGNORE ANY THAT DON'T TEST YOUR WATER THEMSELVES as they can't speak intelligently to water treatment without knowing what needs to be treated. "I sell softeners in this area all the time and I know the water" is not a substitute for a comprehensive water test.

Ask lots of questions. Softening the entire house or just the water heater (IMO a bad idea)? Warranty, parts & labor or just parts, how long and on exactly what? Install, permits required, licensed plumber? Routine maintenance and costs? Do they stock parts? Response time for emergency (water leak) calls? If they don't explain things to your satisfaction that is a good indicator of how you'll be treated after the sale.

After they've gone use your water test to compare with theirs. Are all your treatment needs being addressed?

Ask your neighbors if they have any water treatment experience. They might tell you who's good or who to avoid.

Come back here and post the specific recommendations and hardware components with the costs and we'll give you our opinions.

If you're a DIYer then you have other options but remember, when you do it yourself there's no one else to blame.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2011 at 3:42PM
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jesseb143

After much research I bought a Fleck from ebay from apluswater_softeners. Do your research and you will learn that Fleck is the best and this guy has great ratings. I am extremely happy with this unit, is uses a ridiculously low amount of salt to do the job compared to the various other crap warehouse store all in one units I have had. If you are the kind of guy who likes to tote around heavy bags of salt every month, this will not be the softener for you. I have had to put about 4 bags of salt in in the last year and a half. I know it sounds too good to be true if you have one of these GE's like I used to have, but the truth is these just work well. When you buy it off ebay, you have to put the resin in the tank, so either be handy or hire a plumber. I installed my own resin, because I am that handy, but I let a plumber install it from there, took him a day, but I had him put in fancy pressure gauges on incomeing and outgoing water so I could check for issues by comparing pressure drop of install to later pressure drops. My system drops 5 to 10 psi, if it goes any lower, I know I have a problem. Good luck, get a Fleck. I attached a link to the one I purchased. I went pretty overkill on this, most will not need such a large capacity. I have four kids, and do not like to add salt often.

Here is a link that might be useful: EBAY water softener

    Bookmark   March 7, 2011 at 11:07PM
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aliceinwonderland_id

jesseb143,

How lovely of you to register today just to tell us of your wonderful experience with an eBay seller. One would almost think you were in some way affiliated with the seller, considering the way you went out of your way to advertise for them, providing information that is almost entirely useless to the OP. I am so happy for you - it sounds like you have found the perfect combination of water softener and glowing advertisement. Well done. [stepping down from sarcasm box]

    Bookmark   March 8, 2011 at 1:07PM
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peteinsonj

I bought from a plus about a year ago, Fleck 7000 since I needed I high volume softener. Excellent machine -- really needs nothing than salt. Aplus was very helpful in selection and set up. If you go to their site they'll list the things they need to help you select the right size (which, if you google around, is consistent with other water softener companies).

(Alice -- I often share your "concern" when posts like this happen on various boards. In this case, though, since my experience was relevant, I posted, too )

Pete

    Bookmark   March 8, 2011 at 1:57PM
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aliceinwonderland_id

Glad to hear it, Pete. I have no problem with Aplus, other than their potential shill today. Thanks for the input.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2011 at 2:34PM
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