Help with whole house water softner system

monsoon99April 30, 2013

Again and again I have turned to the generous folk on gardenweb to help me with costly decisions about which I have little knowledge. So here I am again:

We live in Southern California (Pasadena area) and 3 years ago built a new house and are already seeing damages to glass shower doors, chrome faucets, staining of marble and granite and the list goes on. My concern is mainly this issue which I think is excessive calcium deposits?? I know very little about water softners just that I think I need to get one.

My general philosophy is to spend the money if I have to but get something that works well and requires little maintenance from me. I deeply regret not having installed a system to address this problem when we were doing the construction but there's nothing I can do about that. I have read some of the posts and the valuable advise provided by justalurker and asolo but it is still very unclear and the information is too technical. I do understand however that the first thing I need to do is get my water tested and provide info on our family's water consumption? Can someone tell me how to do these and get started? Thanks.

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First of all, are you on city water or a well? If you are city water, you can get your city's quarterly or annual water report. It may contain all the information you need.

If you have a private well, you can look on your state's website for certified drinking water labs. Contact the one closest to you and ask them about sampling protocols. They will have standard analysis sets for well water. Just make sure that you get, at minimum, the following:

pH, TDS, total hardness, iron, manganese, sulfides, nitrates, bacteria, turbidity.

Once you have the info, post it here, and we can help. You will also need to provide:

  1. Number of people in your home

  2. Any plans to change the number in your home within the next couple of years?

  3. Number of bathrooms

  4. Any high-water-use items, such as a multi-head shower or jetted tub?

  5. Objectionable odors or color in your water?

In the mean time, look in your local yellow pages and call water treatment pros. They will go to your house and give you quotes for softeners. If you are in one of the areas in California where softeners are restricted, you may need to find a company that swaps your softener tank monthly and regenerates at their location.

Since you consider the information you have read on this site to be too technical, I would not recommend purchasing online. You will be better off with local support.

There are several requirements for any softener you ultimately purchase [Kinetico softeners are an exception]:

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

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

  • 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...

    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 5:10PM
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Thank you aliceinwonderland. We are on city water and I found the water report but unsure what I should relay. There is a whole page of information on tetrachloroethylene to chlorides and sulphates. Unsure which of the chemicals is responsible for the water stains and calcium buildup.

Number of people in your home - we are two adults and our teenage son
Any plans to change the number in your home within the next couple of years? No
Number of bathrooms 3
Any high-water-use items, such as a multi-head shower or jetted tub? We have a jetted tub but hardly use it.
Objectionable odors or color in your water? We have an RO system for drinking water which makes the water taste wonderful. Water out of tap has no color but taste is not pleasant.

I will start making calls for water treatment companies although the few I looked at online said they were plumbers. I will use your detailed checklist when I meet with them. I will post questions as they arise. Thank you very much for your help.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2013 at 2:05PM
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You can post a link to the city water report and I'll take a look.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2013 at 2:27PM
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Here it is:

In case you can't open it, the website is

    Bookmark   May 1, 2013 at 2:44PM
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Hi Aliceinwonderland. I just met today with the Kinetico rep and he explained their system (KINETICO 4040s) and quoted me $3500 plus $300 for copper pipes needed to connect the system from our main water source to where it will sit. He also said that we would need to add salt probably once every six months to the system which is important for me as I don't want a system that needs us to add salt monthly. He gave me several referrals to people in my small town who have the system who I can talk to. I am sure Kinetico is an excellent system but what I came away with not knowing is if the other much less expensive systems are as good.

I got another email quote from another company that sells Pentair (Fleck) & Clack Corporation Commercial & Industrial Water Softener Systems.

system #1 - No Salt - The TurboTac Whole House Water Conditioner System - With ScaleStop Media.
Template Assisted Crystals (TAC) - The New & Improved Way To Treat Hard Water - No Salt Required!
Along With Next Filtration's ScaleStop We Add A Full Bed Of Coconut Shell Carbon Filtration Media.
Significantly Reduces Chlorine - Bad Tastes & Odors & Harmful Organic Compounds.

High Quality Drinking Water @ Every Tap In Your Home + Scale Prevention Throughout Your Entire Plumbing System!

Regular Size Tank - Suitable for Households of 1 to 3 Persons.
Whole House Scale Prevention - ScaleStop Media.
Whole House Coconut Shell Carbon Filtration - Significantly Improves Drinking Water Quality @ Every Tap.
Virtually Maintenance Free.
Self-Cleaning - Periodically Backwashes Dirt, Sediment & Solids Out of Tank and Reclassifies Granular Carbon. No Sediment Prefilter Required - Less Maintenance.
Less Than 1 Square Ft. of Floor Space Required.

PRICE $1,595.00

and the other system which is the Traditional water Softener System (requires salt - approx 1 - 40 lb bag per month)

Our Entry Level Whole House Water Softening Package

Softens water throughout the entire home.
Chlorine resistant softening resin.
Clack digital control valve.
Structural polyglass mineral tank.
18" dia x 30 ht. plastic brine tank - 300 lb storage capacity.
Regenerates with either Sodium Chloride or Potassium Chloride.

Softener Tank Size (tank only): 9" dia x 48" ht.
Overall Softener Tank Height (w/control valve): 61" ht.
Cubic ft. of Softening Resin: 1 cubic ft.
Brine Tank Size: 18" dia x 30" ht.
Brine Tank Holding Capacity: 300 lbs.
Regeneration Material: Sodium Chloride or Potassium Chloride.
Control Valve Type: Clack CK10 Fully Digital - 24 Volt - Built-In Bypass Valve.
Pipe Size Connections: 1" or 1 1/4" MPT.
Service Flow Rate Capacity: 10 gallons per minute (without hardness breakthrough).
Grains Capacity Removal Before Regeneration: 30,000 grains (approx 2,000 gallons of average tap water quality).

Softener Tank (Tank Only) - 10 year Limited Warranty.
Brine Tank & Brine Float Assembly - 10 year Limited Warranty.
Softening Resin - 1 Year...

    Bookmark   May 3, 2013 at 3:58PM
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