help with choosing water softener?

jadeiteApril 28, 2013

I've been lurking on this forum for about a year, trying to learn about water softener systems. We had our water analyzed, and these are the results:

Nitrogen, Nitrate (as N): 0.86 mg/L

Dissolved metals:
Calcium 49 mg/L
Magnesium 5.6 mg/L

Hardness (as CaCO3): 140 mg/L

pH 7.85

Bicarbonate (as CaCO3) 160 mg/L CaCO3

Total dissolved solids: 221 mg/L

Sulphur: 6.7 mg/L

Everything else (iron, manganese, turbidity, VOCs) is below detectable limits.

We have had a recommendation for the local Kinetico dealer who quoted us $2795 + tax for a 2040S, including installation.

We are on city water, we are a household of 2 adults, occasional visitors. We have 3 bathrooms but never more than 1 in use at a time, 1 kitchen, 1 laundry. Our average monthly use is estimated at 3000-4000 gals, not including irrigation which we plan to bypass. Water comes in at 65 psi in 1" piping.

Based on the water analysis, we are thinking of a carbon filter for kitchen (faucet and fridge) to remove the chlorine in the water which is high at times.

What would you knowledgeable people recommend for softening, what makes/models, what size etc.? Are we better off just signing with Kinetico? From everything I've heard they are solidly reliable but expensive. Is this cost justified, or would we be better off with Fleck or some other manufacturer, and finding a plumber to do installation? My husband is handy and capable of doing simple maintenance and repair, but he doesn't want to take on installation of something he doesn't understand.

Thank you for your help,

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It's difficult to determine what you will be "better off" doing - you will have to weigh cost, convenience, expertise, support, etc. for yourself. I can provide some pros and cons to assist you.

Your situation is actually a bit difficult to determine the correct size softener if you go with a traditional single-tank softener. Purely based on water usage and hardness, you could get away with a 0.5 cubic ft softener. However, flow rate through such a small softener would be severely limited. The size of your house would dictate about a 1.25 cubic ft softener, but that would cause you to regen every 20 days and risk possible media compaction or regen more often and use a lot more salt. So you see the dilemma. A 0.75 cubic ft softener is a reasonable compromise

The Kinetico, on the other hand, is a packed bed softener, allowing much higher flow rates through a much smaller softener. It does not suffer from the drawbacks of a traditional softener for your specific situation. The price is high, but it may be a bit easier to accept the price if you think of this as a 20-year purchase. $140/year, If you decide to go with a standard softener, call around to local dealers first and see what they can do for you. You want your softener to meet the following criteria:

  • High quality American or German made resin. This will provide a tight size distribution for optimal flow within the resin bed.

  • When you have CITY WATER: 10% crosslinked resin. The oxidizers that city water treatment plants use, such as chlorine or chloramine, are harmful to softener resins. Higher crosslinking will resist chemical attack longer.

  • Top basket. This serves two purposes. It sets up a proper water distribution during normal operation and prevents resin loss during backwash.

  • Gravel underbed. The gravel underbed is there to set up proper flow patterns, improve backwash and prevent channeling. Many softener sales companies like to leave this out or sell softeners with a vortex system instead. Vortex systems weigh less than gravel so they cost less to ship. In addition, they are a more expensive item that adds profit for the softener salesperson, but provides no additional benefit to the homeowner . It simply adds another piece of equipment that can break. .

  • Fleck or Clack valves. These set the industry standard. Be aware that you will not be able to purchase Clack valves online. This is not a problem if you purchase locally.

  • Noryl bypass. Most softeners are available with either Noryl or stainless bypass valves. Both are good valves, but the noryl tends to be more reliable when not used for long periods of time.

  • Install the softener with a three-valve bypass. This will make it so much easier if you ever need to remove the softener for repairs or wish to take it with you when you move. Preferably, use full-port, quarter-turn valves.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 3:04PM
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AIW - thank you for your advice. My husband favors Kinetico because of their solid warranty and good reputation in our area. I'll look into alternatives just to be sure we make an informed decision.


    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 11:02PM
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