Water Softener Decision

tonelab77April 3, 2014

I need some advice on purchasing a water softener. I've lurked for quite a bit before posting this, and have read a lot of information. I've narrowed it down to a Fleck 9100SXT 48,000 grain on-demand system with dual tanks, and a Kinetico Premier S250 (recommended by a local Kinetico consultant). The price differences are huge (around $1500 for the Fleck vs. $4500 for the Kinetico).

My house is 9,737 sq. ft., has a 1-1/2" main water line, and 15 GPG water hardness. We have 5 people in our household (2 adults, a six year old, a two year old, and an infant). There are 5 bathrooms but only 3 of them are regularly used.

I like the Kinetico system because it will accept a 1-1/2" water main, doesn't require electricity, and the warranty is very good. However, I don't like the price.

My main concern is water flow. Our water pressure is ridiculously good, and I'd like to keep it that way. I appreciate any and all feedback! Thank you for reading this!

This post was edited by tonelab77 on Fri, Apr 4, 14 at 0:11

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Electric powered versus water powered can be a moot point as it costs mere pennies to power a conventional water softener control valve. In an installation where providing electricity is problematic or very expensive then the water powered Kinetico has a formidable advantage.

Matching the control valve on a softener AND resin tank size and resin volume to the plumbing supply size and flow requirements is VERY important. Unfortunately the Fleck 9xxx series is a 3/4" ported valve.

If you have a good Kinetico dealer, and you need to ask around and make sure that they are, then consider the cost an investment over a very long haul.

Sometimes you do get what you pay for.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2014 at 2:04PM
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justalurker...You're the person I hoped would reply. I have electrical outlets in the proposed room. So that's a non-issue. Forget about the Fleck 9100SXT then. But what about the Fleck 9500SXT 1-1/2"? It's nearly $1,500 less than the proposed Kinetico S250, but I would have to have it installed myself, which is an added cost. Your thoughts?

    Bookmark   April 4, 2014 at 12:19AM
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Before I did anything I'd want to see SFR tests to see if that 1.5" water service is doing what it should. If the 1.5" service is there because your plumbing and fixtures require it then you should see high numbers for SFR.

I'd also want more results from a water test like iron, manganese, pH, TDS assuming you are on a water system.

You'd be installing and servicing and troubleshooting and repairing the 9500 yourself so that offsets the lower price. It's a less common valve and maybe harder to find parts than for a 9100. Not as good a warranty as the Kinetico and the Kinetico dealer will stock parts for the S250.

If you have a good Kinetico dealer, and you need to ask around and make sure that they are, then consider the cost an investment over a very long haul. A dollar's worth for a dollar is the best deal around... even in today's economy.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2014 at 12:41AM
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Kinetico consultant came by today and quoted me $3990 for the premier s250. Which I think is expensive, considering they quoted $3295 for the S350 to someone on another post you were a part of less than a year ago:

Posted by lisaahern on
Wed, Jul 31, 13 at 21:00

The S350 was quoted to us at $3295 installed.

Also, I see a Kinetico 2060s (manufactured in 2008) on ebay for around $1500. The consultant informed me that the 2060s is the same as the S250. The only difference being the newer adjustable disc in the S250. Basically if water hardness changes over time, it's easier to adjust the disc on the S250 vs changing the disc for a different one on the 2060s. Not that big of a deal for me. I realize that there will be no warranty on used equipment. Should I try to get the S350 at the previously quoted price of $3295? That sounds good and I don't want my system regenerating so often.

How would I go about finding out if my local Kinetico dealer is any good? I already have a bad taste in my mouth (no pun intended) with them trying to charge more me for an S250, than someone else was quoted for an S350.

Almost forgot to mention, I just found out that my water shut off controls a guest apartment I'm renting out to a single lady. It's about 800 sq. ft. So it looks like I need to figure in another adult and another bathroom. :/

The more I research and read horror stories, the more I'm leaning towards a Fleck 9500 SXT.

This post was edited by tonelab77 on Fri, Apr 4, 14 at 21:42

    Bookmark   April 4, 2014 at 8:39PM
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Kinetico prices, as most all prices, vary in different locations so you should take that into account. The price you'll pay will depend on the Kinetico dealer's attitude, his market, and your negotiating tenacity.

Don't lean one way or another... stand up straight and get all the facts you need to make an informed decision.

Before you go shopping you need to nail down water conditions and water usage so you know what to shop for.

# of people (including apartment)
# of bathrooms (including apartment)
SFR (absolutely necessary)

Need more details regarding water conditions... not guesses and not from a year old water report. Get a water test from a certified lab. Assuming you're on a water system...


I can tell you that with a 1.5" water service a Kinetico S250 with .7 cu ft of resin in each tank should not have sufficient SFR to prevent hardness leaking through. But we don't know that since you haven't included SFR.

Kinetico specs the S250 for 11.6 GPM @ 15 psi pressure drop which far exceeds the specs of resin manufacturers. Resin manufacturers spec 1.5 cu ft of resin in a 10x54 resin tank @ 12 gpm so someone is either fudging their numbers or there should be a sound explanation for the discrepancy in SFR. Are you sure the dealer is specifying the S250 or is it the S250OD model which uses BOTH resin tanks in service then withdraws one tank from service during regeneration which reduces your SFR during that time?

Until you provide complete and accurate information there's little more I can do to help.

This post was edited by justalurker on Sat, Apr 5, 14 at 13:25

    Bookmark   April 4, 2014 at 9:53PM
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Dear tonelab77,

Don't know if this helps in any way, but I found this link about softening systems: http://www.qualitywaterassociates.com/softeners/sizingchart.htm

Here is a link that might be useful: http://www.qualitywaterassociates.com/softeners/sizingchart.htm

    Bookmark   April 5, 2014 at 12:57PM
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Sorry, I wasn't notified of your response by email, so I just read it. I'm positive he's quoting me for the S250. I checked SFR today at a laundry sink. It took 5 seconds to fill a gallon (opening hot and cold all the way). Which equates to 12 GPM.

Living here, are 3 adults, a seven year old, and two babies. There are 6 full bathrooms and three powder rooms (toilet and sink only). Of the 6 full baths, only 3 are used regularly. The powder rooms are only used when we have gatherings. We also have 2 washing machines and 2 dishwashers. As far as independent lab tests, I haven't had them done. Where could I do that? Any suggestions?

I also had another idea. Not sure if it's a good one, but I'm just brainstorming. What if I were to split the 1.5" main line into two 3/4" lines and had two 9100SXT systems on each 3/4" line, then join their outputs back into 1.5" to maintain water pressure? I know it sounds like a hair brain idea, but would it work? the 9100 series is more widely used and serviced than the 9500, so parts and serviceability would be easier, which was a concern.

I'm not too keen on having to rely on a proprietary company's parts and service. What if their service stinks? It's not like I can call another service provider. If they service my region, I'm stuck with them. I've read horror stories.

Thanks for the insight and assistance in helping me get the correct system for my needs.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 6:20PM
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You want to check SFR at an appliance or fixture that has the best flow. Usually that's a tub with a separate hot and cold faucet not a mixing faucet. Try the tub and compare numbers.

Instead of dueling softeners in parallel how about ONE softener with a SINGLE resin tank and a control valve that accommodates 1.5" plumbing for far less $$$ than anything you've thought of yet and a far simpler installation and lower maintenance? Odd that you overlooked that solution? Twins are nice in the right situation and yous is not that situation. A single resin tank softener will do nicely.

Once you post the details of your water conditions we can size the softener.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 8:41PM
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I tested that fixture because the flow there is insane due to the fact that there isn't an aerator on the spout, whereas every other faucet has an aerator. It has separate handles for the cold and hot (if that's what you mean by a non-mixing faucet).

I'd be open to a single tank solution. Like a 2850SXT? It's $1000 less that the 9500SXT.

Where can I have my water tested by an independent lab? Kinetico was here several days ago and said 12 GPG hardness (if that helps).

This post was edited by tonelab77 on Thu, May 1, 14 at 13:44

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 9:23PM
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Yellow Pages under laboratories or water testing? Call your local environmental heath department they usually know the local labs.

Assuming you are on a municipal system we need to know...

Also, any water hogging appliances like a Jacuzzi?

You seem to be gravitating to commercial control valves for some reason... why? A Clack WS1.25 although less common and not sold online would do nicely and a Fleck 7000SXT (1.25") control valve with 1.5 connectors would also work at far less cost with a minimal compromise although technically a code violation it is done VERY often. There is a Clack WS1.5.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 9:41PM
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Since your home is so large, there is one other possibility you may wish to consider. This will only work if your home's plumbing is arranged in distinct zones (non unusual for a home of your size).

Install two softeners. Rather than installing in parallel, as you suggested, set them up so that each one provides service for a distinct area of the house. Ensure that each will see approximately the same amount of use.

This will do two things for you:

1. It will eliminate the need for one quite large softener that will be too large for all those low-water-flow moments such as running a single bathroom sink.

2. It will still provide the capacity you need for your high-flow fixtures.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2014 at 11:28AM
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Your suggestion won't work here alice. Thanks for chiming in though.

Looking to get my water tested today. Any idea how much it should cost to do so? One place is asking $100. Is that the going rate or...?

Also wanted to get some input regarding a chlorine filter. Is it a waste of money? Will removing chlorine make water unsafe?

Looks like the Fleck 7000SXT is a great option. I don't know why I never looked at the specs. Which would be a better choice, the 7000SXT or the WS1.25? I couldn't find much info on the WS1.5.

This post was edited by tonelab77 on Thu, May 1, 14 at 13:46

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 1:22PM
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Problem with water authority reports are that they are dated (2 years with yours), usually report results as a wide range, and are indicative of the water conditions at the treatment facility rather than at your location. You want to treat the water conditions that your water has after traveling through the system and arriving at your home. Lab prices vary but $100 for a comprehensive test by a certified lab is reasonable.

I am not in favor of removing anti-bacterials at POE (whole house). Anti-bacterials are added to water systems for a reason. If you remove anti-bacterials at POE and there is cross-contamination in your plumbing system you will provide a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. There are those who disagree and they can do anything they want to their water, but, IMO better safe than sick.

Both the Clack and the Fleck are very competent with a slight edge in ease of service going to the Clack. Clack control valves are not sold online so you have to find a local B&M water treatment pro to get a softener that has one. Tech info for either valve is available for free download and parts are sold online.

If you opt for the Fleck 7000SXT with 1.5" connections then make sure you get the larger diameter 32mm distributor tube.

Although it is done often be advised that installing any POE appliance with a smaller diameter than the water service is technically a plumbing code violation. A 1.25" ported softener control valve on a 1.5" water service may have no negative effect while a 3/4" ported softener control valve on a 1.25" water service would definitely have a negative effect and that is done more often than I would have believed until I saw so many installations doing exactly that.

This post was edited by justalurker on Mon, Apr 14, 14 at 17:00

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 2:35PM
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Ok, then no chlorine filter. Better safe than sick is right!

You think this place (http://www.cleanwaterstore.com/well-water-test-kits.html) will do a suitable test? It's free and tests everything you mentioned with the exception of chlorine, which I can test for myself here.

If that's not suitable, then will this place (http://www.karlabs.com/testkit/) be okay?

This post was edited by tonelab77 on Tue, Apr 15, 14 at 14:06

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 2:03PM
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I like dealing with certified labs cause they're only interested in selling you tests not water treatment equipment.

Local labs know the general and specific water conditions in the area. I favor dealing with local labs rather than mailing samples away .. but that's me.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 3:32PM
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Just had a different Kinetico representative here, and she was singing a completely different tune. She said I need a CP 216s OD system, and that it runs $6175 installed! It's the biggest of their commercial systems (as you probably are already aware of). I don't understand how one rep can say I don't need more than an S250, and another says I need the largest commercial unit available. It doesn't make sense to me. If I wasn't turned off about Kinetico before, I surely am now. There's no way I would buy one of their systems with such different opinions from their reps.

I will be getting the results of my water test(s) sometime next week. I can't wait to have soft water! I'm sick of squeegeeing my shower after every use.

Here is a link that might be useful: CP 216s Specs

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 6:48PM
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I finally got the results of my lab tests. Please see linked PDF document below...


I've also been reading that I should have a whole house filter before the softener. Can anyone shed some light on this for me?

Also wondering what size UPS would be good to protect 7000SXT.

Please let me know your thoughts. Thank you very much!

Here is a link that might be useful: My Water Test PDF

This post was edited by tonelab77 on Tue, Apr 29, 14 at 17:49

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 3:57PM
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Looks like no one wants to help me now. I wonder why...

Anyhow, I've found some information in regards to the Clack WS1.5. Apparently it will cost $2200 for a system based on that valve. Considering the 7000SXT is around $900 for a 1/4" less and real noticeable pressure loss, I think I'm going to go with the Fleck.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 9:46PM
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"Although it is done often be advised that installing any POE appliance with a smaller diameter than the water service is technically a plumbing code violation"

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 10:40PM
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I'm not concerned with a code violation. But thanks for reminding me. No assistance in sizing my system, & no thoughts on my lab test huh?

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 11:20PM
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Often, vendors will specify their softener size by grain capacity, so make sure you specify by resin volume. A 2.5 cuft softener will regen every 7-8 days. Since your house is so large, you may wish to consider a 3.0 cuft softener. It would regen every 8-10 days and offer you more available flow. With your large household, the larger softener might be a better fit, but either size will work.

The following requirements are for an industry standard softener, and should be available from any decent softener vendor:

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

  • If you have WELL WATER: 8% crosslinked resin.

  • If 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, keep the bottom basket in place, prevent basket failure, 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.

  • The valve should regen based on water usage, not time.

  • 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. Use full-port, quarter-turn valves. This is a redundant bypass, which is my preference. If you choose to have only one bypass, install the three-valve bypass and skip the noryl bypass above.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 10:26AM
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Thanks for the info aliceinwonderland_id. I really appreciate your insight! You seem very knowledgeable according to other threads I've read.

I have a couple more questions:

1) Will a 18"x40" brine tank be sufficient for my system, or should I go with a larger 24"x41" brine tank?

2) I think I'm going to go with a Clack WS1.25EE instead of the Fleck 7000SXT. Considering that I have 1.5" main service, do you think I will lose any pressure by using a 1.25" valve? Or, is it worth paying triple the cost of the WS1.25EE for the WS1.5EE?

    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 4:04PM
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