Water Softener Selection Help

mm92672June 21, 2012

I have read a lot of postings and want thank all the regulars who reply with such valuable information. My local water treatment professional suggested two products: Puregen Eco-Twin Whole House System and a Fleck 7000SXT 2.0. I could not find much information on the Puregen and I would appreciate some advice on what to purchase.

I had 4 professionals come out to quote my needs: Kinetico, 2 locals, and Lifesource carbon filter.

Local #2 gave me two quotes. Quote 1 below, then I asked the below question and received Quote 2:

Quote #1: Fleck 7000SXT 2.0, Watts RO Unit (to fridge), extra pipe installed for $2200. (incl. tax).

Quote #2: EcoTwin 7000SXT with 2.0 Cubic feet GAC, 2.5 CF Resin, Watts RO (to fridge). $2700. (incl. tax)

I asked him the following: "I am sure the Fleck 7000SXT is sufficient for my needs however I like (not need) the idea of a twin tank concept for the reason of using 100% of capacity of the tank, regenerates when needed, regenerates with soft water, uses less salt and water. I want a carbon filter to filter out chlorine and to protect the resin. Also my 3 little kids will be big and use more water in the near future. What would the cost of a twin tank system be?"


The twin tank efficiency gain is approximately 5%, the cost of wasted salt and water will take approximately 20 years to pay for the additional cost. The Ecotwin tank GAC should last 5 years before the GAC needs changing. ECO-Twin design use the waste water from the softener to regenerate and backwash the GAC. Pros, better removal of Chlorine, THM, VOC, etc. lower operating costs

I cant find any user reviews, recommendations, etc. on the EcoTwin product. Is it any good or would I be better off with a large carbon filter and a single or double tank water softener with industry standard components?


About my water:

Water volume usage: Average: 3,740 gallons/ mo. Peak use: 5,236 gallons/mo.

2 adults, 3 kids: The little kids dont use much now but I want to plan for an increase in usage. We get extended visitors a few times per year.

1" pipes at my main. The house is on a raised foundation. I must run 30 ft pipe from main to side of house for install of unit and back for about 60-70 ft copper piping to be used. (Garage at rear of property, hose bib is at front of house)

Bathtub water will dispense at 1 gallon in 14 seconds with hot and cold open. The other fixtures have a lower flow rate.

Calcium: 47.0 mg/L, Copper 0.022 mg/L, Magnesium: 17.83 mg/L, Potassium: 3.7 mg/L

Silica 8.0 mg/L, Sodium 67 mg/L, Zinc 0.006 mg/L, Alkalinity (Total as CaCO3) 100 mg/L

Hardness 190 mg/L, pH 7.6, Total Dissolved Solids: 420 mg/L

Chloride 85.0 mg/L, Fluoride 0.6 mg/L, Sulfate 130.0 mg/L

Not Detected: Aluminum, arsenic, barium, cadmium, Iron, lead, manganese, mercury, nickel, selenium, silver, Nitrate as N, Nitrite as N, Turbidity

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Here I posted the quotes from the other vendors as a reference for others. I know that I found it helpful to get and understanding of the costs associated with water treatment systems.

The other quotes I received were:

1. Lifesource (Ugg, before I did any research and learned they are just a $3500 carbon filter and I want softerner)
2. Kinetico (I like the architechure but dont want to pay $6k)
3. Local #1: either looking for suckers or trully has the best stuff in the world: see below
4. Local #2: lots of local recommendations, very responsive to my questions. Quote above and who I will use, I just want advice on his options.

Kinetico quoted $5,995 (incl. tax) for: Mach 2030 conditioner, 1030 Upflow dechlor unit, K-5 RO drinking station (connected to refrigerator), designer faucet and one salt pack. He did say he could probably get me the home expo special of $500 off, so assuming $5,495.

Local #1 quote: $7,144 (incl. tax) for the following (all private labeled equipment but he mentioned a "7000 valve")

1. Commercial Backwashing Carbon Filtration System with 1.5" control valve connections. Timer Initiated regeneration. System flow rate 46 Gallons per Minute

2. Commercial Water Softening System with 1.5" control valve connections. System complete with brine tank and tank overflow assembly. Demand Initiated regeneration. System flow rate 46 Gallons per Minute.

3. Reverse Osmosis System, connected to refrigerator

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 11:09AM
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Here is an image and specs on the PureGen Eco Twin

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 11:19AM
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FWIW, I've had Kinetico softener and RO at two locations for twenty years. If buying again tomorrow, I'd pay their price and do it again. I am not DIY guy with this kind of thing. They did everything. I did nothing. All of their stuff has been excellent for me and their local reps have been great.

I've posted here quite a bit over the years. Search function will bring up many of my previous comments/opinions on the units.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 12:15PM
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@ asolo: Thank you. I have read your posts. I must admit, I am tempted by the Kinetico products because of a lot of positive user testimonies. Buy it and forget about it seems to be the norm.

I am wrestling with some basic fundamentals brought up in these forums that have me unable to make a decision: (my summaries are in italic, not actual quotes)
1. Married to Kinetico Vs Open/Multiple Sources of industry standard products (e.g. $129 for K5 replacement filters every 500 gallons Vs. Watts RO system cartridges are about $60/year) I like the analogy I read in here, Water treatment is all about the Dealer, Dealer, Dealer. Kinetico was a well dressed salesman with clean hands. My local dealer is more hands on and owns his own business.

2. Value or ROI. Do I really have to wait 20 years to "break even" between the costs of buying 1 Kinetico system and hoping it lasts 20 years Vs buying two industry standard systems? (assuming Ill get 10 years of serving from the products) Even if my numbers are +/-, do you get my thought process?

3. Soft water is Soft water. RO water is RO water.

Am I thinking about this purchase in the right way?

Part of the reason I started this thread was to have other people more educated on this subject to push me towards one of the two options offered by my local professional or towards Kinetico.

I do see a lot of technical posts about pounds of salt, regeneration cycles, under/over sized, programing the unit,etc. around industry standard products and not so much with the Kinetico products.

To others reading this post, if cost were taken out of the equation, which system would you purchase?

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 7:15PM
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Your points are ALL valid.

My hot-buttons, basically, are that I have money but I don't have time.....no time for DIY and no time for problems. The Kinetico folks where I live held up their end of the deal. The equipment is top-notch and their install guys are, too. But, yes, I am "married" to them. All I can say is that it's been a pleasant marriage.

In terms of function, I am going chime in about the RO system. Their K5W version has an advantage that has really impressed me. The holding tank works from line pressure and refills with zero back-pressure. What that does in-use everyday is provide full-pressure flow from the spigot from full-to-empty and allows complete re-fill from empty in under an hour. The tank is 2.7 gallons. At my 65psi line pressure, it flows 1.2gpm. The convenience compared to previous systems is very pleasing. Like all their stuff, the K5W, too, is at or near the top expense-wise. But, like their softeners, it does what it's represented to do and doesn't break or need any attention. Well, OK, filter changes....but those 1/4-turn cartridges are pretty slick. Change-out of pre and post cartridges takes me about two minutes about once a year -- which is about how often the 500-gallon limit switch kicks over. Although I regard anything above 90% exclusion ratio acceptable, both of my units deliver 97-99%

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 7:37PM
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Yes, I am posting to my own thread again..

I dont know how to link to another thread in Gardenweb/Home/Plumbing forum, but here is one that I like for the advice but worried about the quote from Kinetico.
The thread subject was:
Water Softener: Kinetico vs. Ecowater vs Culligan and other ???

The price quoted to them was:
Kinetico - $3950 ($2796 w/o R/O unit)
DECHLOR1060 Upflow Dechlorinator, CAH10MB Filter Housing, K2040 Water Softener, KRO+DX Deluxe R/O Drinking Water System w/tank, and 5MS 5 micron sediment filter

The price quoted to me was $5995.
What makes the Mach 2030, 1030 Upflow dechlorinator and K5 $2050 more?

Many of the regulars to the water softener forums were in favor of Kinetico in that other thread which makes me want Kinetico but $2050 more than another Kinetico quote?

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 7:38PM
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FYI....I paid $3395 for the 4040 unit and $1150 for the K5W two years ago. Both of those numbers were AFTER $500.00 discounts due to promotion they were running to change out their old equipment for the latest/greatest. If I was buying new (no trade-out) I would have paid full pop....$3895 + $1595. All of the old equipment was working to spec after 18 years but I thought I could see "the day" coming and responded to the promotion.

I am not personally familiar with the equipment you've been quoted so can't comment. I have seen personally and read frequently that the Kinetico folks don't deal. You pay their price or you buy something else.

Unlike many other products I've paid top-dollar for, the Kinetico equipment and their people where I live performed wonderfully. Yeah, I gritted my teeth when I wrote the check, but I've been satisfied every day with every bit of what they did. They seem to understand what's expected when they're charging what they charge. Apparently that's the market they want and none other.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 8:02PM
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The best anything is worthless if you can't get it repaired or serviced or get parts or tech info for it.

Not wanting to be a DIYer is an important consideration, BUT if you can get parts and tech info you can help yourself IF you have to. If you have a bad dealer or piss them off you're screwed because the manufacturer won't help you.

There seems to be someone just about everywhere that services Fleck control valves.

",,, if cost were taken out of the equation, which system would you purchase?"

A correctly sized and set for efficiency industry standard softener is easily repaired and serviced and will last as long as any proprietary design if one does routine minimal maintenance.

A Fleck twin resin tank softener will last as long as any other twin with a far lower buy in and it regenerates with soft water.

Carbon tanks over resin tanks is NOT industry standard. If you think you want carbon (and that's a whole nuther discussion) then a separate backwashing carbon filter is the way to go.

Asolo is right on the money about the Kinetico K5 RO. The WOW feature is really cool, but IMO the high cost and needing proprietary filters drops it from my list to own... unless Asolo will ship me one of his when the next zoot capri Kinetico is available

RO units made from American components and assembled in the US abound at reasonable prices and filters can be had at HD, Lowes, or even Walmart. I have a 16 year old Alamo RO that has a 98% rejection rate and just works.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 8:52PM
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@Asolo. Thank you.

@justalurker: Thank you. Would a twin tank water softener be "too much" for my usage? I mean, could I harm it by under utilizing it? I like the concept enough to pay a little more for the twin tanks,not for the salt and water savings, but it just seems to be an efficient design and for the times that I have a house full of long term guests, I want to ensure I have soft water.

I will search these forums for some carbon backwashing filters now. I know I saw some advertised at Pelican and other web sites.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 9:32PM
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If one has knowledge, skill, and time -- or the ability to obtain them -- there certainly are many more options than if you don't or can't.

Moving up a tier, if you have good, competent local dealers there are more options than if you don't.

I've learned justalurker's a smart fellow. I agree with everything he said here. Just hope he's not staying up late thinking I'm going to ship him anything. : )

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 9:38PM
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Regenerating with soft water is a big plus when you have iron and/or manganese... and you don't.

With a single resin tank softener there is less mechanical complication and the only time you don't have soft water is during regeneration at 2AM that night (morning?) every 6 or 7 days if the softener is sized correctly.

Looking at the #s you posted a 1.5 cube softener with a Fleck 7000SXT would do nicely and give you 12gpm SFR. Online price about $575 delivered but you'd assemble and install yourself.

Your resin should last 10-15 years easy. If you filter the chlorine then your entire internal plumbing system is unprotected. An RO for drinking, cooking, and ice making will deal with the chlorine.

So, $575 for a softener and $200-$300 for a quality RO, and add a few hundred for installation and you'll spend about $1200 max... tell your locals to sharpen their pencils.

Psst... you can go to Costco or Sam's Club and buy Watts ROs for under $200. Just DON'T use the saddle valve they come with.

@Asolo... we both know that when Kinetico comes out with a new RO you'll be first in line. Think of it... 100% rejection!

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 10:12PM
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@Justalurker: Thank you.
RE: If you filter the chlorine then your entire internal plumbing system is unprotected.
Are you referring to potential bacterial growth in the internal plumbing?

And what tool do you use to measure the rejection you are referencing in RO systems?

And are the small, pocket size water hardness testers good enough to periodically check the water?

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 10:26PM
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"Are you referring to potential bacterial growth in the internal plumbing?"

Yes... the antibacterials are added to the water for a reason.

"And what tool do you use to measure the rejection you are referencing in RO systems?"

A pocket TDS meter is adequate or if you're a real techie there's this... http://www.tdsmeter.com/products/dm1.html

AFAIK there are no small pocket size water hardness testers. You either get the test kit with a chemicals or you use hardness test strips.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 10:38PM
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Well, no, we both do NOT know that. Kinetico went through two other generations of them in the 18 years I owned the first one. Not exactly fast action on my part in response to new introductions.

I don't understand your sniping.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 10:43PM
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"I don't understand your sniping"

Because it's not sniping... rather a failed attempt at humor.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 11:04PM
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RE: Bacteria. Wouldn't that be ironic to spend all that money for the fancy Kinetico system, or any other system with a whole house carbon filter, and then end up with a bacteria in my plumbing because it filtered out the chlorine? I never thought of that. Is that a common problem?

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 11:10PM
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"....failed attempt at humor."

In that case, I'm being dense. Sorry. : )

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 11:13PM
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Whether to filter out chlorine whole house is a debate that has been going on for a long time. Dealers like selling carbon filters cause it increases their profit and adds to their service work when the carbon needs to be replaced.

If one is adamant that they don't want it in their water then they can do what they want but I won't be eating or drinking at their home..

Filtering chlorine whole house in order to save(?) the resin is not a good reason to do it. Cross-linked resins tolerate the amount of chlorine and chloramines in municipal water and give respectable service life.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 11:44PM
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For hardness monitoring, I use this: http://www.hach.com/total-hardness-test-kit-model-5-b/product?id=7640219508

For RO performance monitoring (TDS measurement) I use this: http://www.tdsmeter.com/products/tds4tm.html

justalurker and I have sparred about the whole-house chlorine filtering thing ever since I got one. There's also discussion about it elsewhere although I've yet to see comments from anyone who's got one and has also had their water tested periodically for bugs. I regard it as a non-issue in a closed system. And I enjoy not smelling chlorine in my shower. Justalurker thinks its a significant health risk and I suspect we'll never agree. Disappointed that he won't be eating or drinking at my house although I think a little whiskey in the water served might get us by his worry. : )

Chlorine does kill softener media. However, Justalurker is correct in saying that softener media exposed to the chlorine levels of most municipal systems does, indeed, give "respectable" service life. By "respectable" you should read 10-15 years assuming the unit is sized correctly. Your test kit will tell you when. He is also correct about chlorine in your drinking water being eliminated via the RO system. Whatever RO system you choose will have an activated charcoal pre-filter and an activated charcoal "polishing" post-filter which you'll be changing at appropriate intervals. My units shut off after 500 gallons pass through an internal metering device. In-use that turns out to be every 8-12 months at my two locations.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 12:26AM
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@justalurker, RE Chlorine. Interesting. I was considering it because I thought it would help solve the dry skin issues we are all having. In fact, I was the one who requested it from my local water treatment professional and that is why he suggested the stacked tank in the picture I posted above of the Puregen Eco Twin. That solution was the second quote I referred to earlier.

He originally told me a Fleck 2000SXT 2.0 and a Watts 525 RO system was all I needed. Do you think the 2.0 is the amount of resin? If yes, you suggested 1.5 earlier. Is that difference critical enough to discuss about it with him?

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 12:36AM
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Antibacterials in the water = no bacteria

Antibacterials removed from the water = possible bacteria colonization

To me that's NOT a non issue. I defend the right of anyone who chooses to risk their health but not the health of others in the home or visitors.


I make softener sizing recommendations based on occupation and water conditions, and SFR.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 2:08AM
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"Antibacterials removed from the water = possible bacteria colonization"

Yes. Correct. And, like the water in the house's pipes -- a closed system -- that would also apply to the RO water sitting in your storage tank...unless you re-chlorinate it. It certainly applies to the RO water you occasionally store in jugs for use later on. This is very common practice. I do not think it represents a significant health risk.

I acknowledge that you do think this represents a significant health risk and I have given you full credit for your point of view.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 9:17AM
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The RO's closed system is pretty safe since there is no possibility of cross contamination in the short distance between the tank and faucet. BUT, ROs are installed every day NOT using air gap faucets and that is a great way to cross contaminate an RO.

The house's system however, has multiple possibilities for cross-contamination and that is why filtering anti-bacterials out at the POE is a bad idea and should never be recommended to anyone unless they are made aware of the risks..

That is not what I think... it is what I know based on conversations with public health, medical, plumbing, and biology professionals and common sense.

For me, I prefer to KNOW that my water is safe... especially when I don't have to do anything or buy anything for it to be safe while you choose to spend money to introduce the ongoing question of whether your water is safe.

With respect, we will continue to disagree... you based on your singular experience and not having a problem so far and me in researching the question with people who's job it is to know.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 9:58AM
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Well, at least this is intellectually "healthy" for the OP and other readers. There are the two points of view on the topic pretty well laid out.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 10:13AM
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@asolo & justalurker. Great info and good pairing to debate both sides of both the chlorine filtration issue and the Kinetico Vs Industry Standard equipment issue. You have helped me rule out the option of the stacked Puregen Twin Eco tank listed earlier in this thread. I was about to flip a coin between the Kinetico and the Fleck system but I think I have shifted from 50/50 to about 80/20 to go with an industry standard equipment setup.

What about putting a carbon filter on the water lines to the shower only? My house is on a raised foundation and all the pipes are exposed in the crawl space. If I had a "Big Blue" filter housing with a carbon filter installed on that line only, would that be akin to the RO point:
The RO's closed system is pretty safe since there is no possibility of cross contamination in the short distance between the tank and faucet

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 11:19AM
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Look for POU (point of use) carbon filters for showers that are modestly priced and give one a try before you start cutting and soldering.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 11:28AM
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Agree with justalurker. That should do it. Be certain the canister is large enough to provide full-flow to your shower which will also provide the (small) amount of "dwell time" needed for the media to do it's job at full-flow. I'm sure there are tables about that somewhere.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 11:41AM
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@asolo & justalurker: RE: Shower POU Carbon Filter. Good point guys. Small, easy, step first to see if it accomplishes the desired results. Then I can see if it is the chlorine or the hard water drying the skin.

Thank you both for your help.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 12:09PM
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However, suspect you may have fine time positioning a single cannister to serve both hot and cold lines. Most shower valves mix hot/cold internally just before sending up to the shower-head. Single canister may have to be positioned between the valve and the shower-head. With your configuration, that may be easy or PIA.

Not in the bus....just noodling....but there it is.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 12:30PM
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@asolo: Ah, yes. Great point.

I want to add the following in hopes that it helps someone in the future. We remodeled our house and have been living in it one year. Actually, we knocked our old 1250 sq ft house single story house down and built a 2700 sq ft two story house. One of the local water treatment professionals, the one with the $71xx price tag, told me that they specialize in custom home water treatment. In other words, they are involved after the framing and add water lines wherever you want them. Yes, it is a nice to have, but I have learned that everything is cheaper during the framing stage. Something to think about for those building a house: take a moment to map out your water wants Vs needs. We are seeing white build up on our faucets, shower heads and dishwasher. Get water treatment for your new house and protect all those new investments. My advice, plan for water treatment needs at the same time as the remodel is being designed. As you think about your phone, internet, cable, speaker wiring, think about water too.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 12:55PM
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When you Google "carbon filter for showers" you'll get thousands of hits for shower heads with filters, filter added between nipple and shower head and so on. Don't make it harder than it needs to be.

When buying ANY house it's smart to consider the quality of the water before you sign the check... especially when the house is on a well.

It's always best to plan ahead especially with plumbing during construction. Then all you have to do is hope the plumber followed your directions.

ALL water treatment should be custom water treatment but retrofits are limited to what's there and how much the homeowner can afford.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 3:03PM
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I just had two long calls: one with my Kinetico dealer and one with my local water treatment professional.

Kinetico offered a "home show" discount of $595 plus $200 to close the sale today and a set of K5 filters for a total of $5200.

But, I went with my local guy: Fleck 7000SXT, Watts RO and the carbon filter for showers that he supplies.

He just came over with the installer to make sure they have all the parts for the install tomorrow morning.

They asked if I wanted the brine tank line to come up through the floor and into my kitchen sink drain or tie into one of the drains under the house. He said If it leaks under the house you may never know Vs if it leaks under the sink I will know. Also, I will hear gurgling sounds when it regenerates if he ties into the sink drain. Sounds to me that he should tie into a drain under the house. If it leaks, I would rather have it leak there than in my house. I can just calender once a month to check for leaks? Advice on where to drain it?

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 7:26PM
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Make sure your dealer is giving you a top basket for the 7000SXT and 10% cross-linked resin rather than the 8% stuff. Also, have him install a three ball valve bypass even though the Fleck comes with it's bypass which you will also use. That way, if the Fleck bypass requires service or leaks you can still have water to the house while waiting for repair or parts. Should be a minimal charge at time of installation. You also want the Fleck 2310 safety float in your brine tank.

You must be misunderstanding what he is telling you...

The brine tank is part of the softener and it's only line connects to the control valve on the softener. There should be an overflow fitting on the brine tank that should connect to a drain if the safety float fails BUT it is a gravity line and can not go UP.

If he is speaking about the Softener drain line then it can go up and he can connect it to the sink drain IF he uses an air gap.

If the softener starts running to drain under the house you will know it when your next water bill comes for sure.

Sounds like an unusual installation can you give more details?

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 8:26PM
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Right side of house

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 9:00PM
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I have a fire sprinkler system. You can see that on the main line just before the shut off valve under the bib.

The garage is in the back of the house and has no water.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 9:02PM
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He is also going to put a permeate pump with the RO. He said it should help decrease the ratio of waste water and give better flow rate.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 9:17PM
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