Justalurcker - I have a question

dakota01June 9, 2010

I will have city water in my new home - and I know that I will need some type of softner.

I called the city and it has 80 ppm calcium hardness or 3 grams of calcuim. There is no iron in the water to report.

I have 3 bathrooms (tho only 2 will be used)

1 person

I would think normal usage, dishwasher, laundry, bathing.

Can you recommend a simple, easy to fill ( no big blocks that I have to lift into a tank that is high).

I don't mind using the blocks if the tank is lower. With my old culligan unit I have to get on a step ladder, wrap a belt around the block and lift and lower into the tank..Way too hard for me to do this on a regular basis.


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Pretty much every industry standard softener will have a brine tank that is about 36" high. That is what you'll be lifting the bag of salt and dumping it into.

Once the softener is installed and a couple bags of salt are dumped into the brine tank you'll we watching the salt level on a weekly basis. When you see water in the brine tank you add enough salt so you don't see water. You don't want to just fill up the salt tank because that invites salt bridging and mushing.

You can leave a bag of salt near the softener with the top slit all the way across. Take a gallon milk jug with a screw on cap, screw the cap on, cut the square bottom of the milk jug off and you have a nifty scoop for adding salt to the brine tank.

Use solar salt, which is in little chunks... no 50 lb blocks.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2010 at 3:51PM
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FWIW....Kinetico has a brine tank that is 12x16 and 20" tall. Site does not show photograph, but they do exist. Plus they use less salt than anybody. I've had two of them -- with these smaller tanks -- for 18 years. One of my locations is similar to your description with one person in residence. I typically add salt pellets every other month even though not down to water-level. Dollar-wise, they're high-end but they do hold up their end of the bargain. They do what they're supposed to and they don't break.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2010 at 4:54PM
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Why are the salt tanks so high? I have 24" of unused space above the salt.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2010 at 5:54AM
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As a selling point sales people will say... 'just fill up the salt tank and you can forget your softener for quite a while' and then down the road the service tech will say 'that will be $125 for the service call to clean out the salt tank because you had a salt bridge ot salt mushed at the bottom'.

Using quality NaCl or KCl and keeping enough salt to cover the water keeps brine tank problems to a minimum and gets the homeowner to look at the softener on a regular (weekly) basis so they might spot a problem before it becomes more serious.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2010 at 10:00AM
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Thanks for your responses.
Now I did hear that Culligan has some kind of a tank service, where they bring in a tank weekly or so and you don't have brine tank.

Does those work well? Or would I be wasting my time and money? Glad to hear that I could get something that uses the pellets, but I would like something that takes up very little space in my laundry room. That's why I have an interest in the tank service by Culligan

    Bookmark   June 11, 2010 at 11:25AM
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An ion exchange water softener exchanges sodium or potassium ions for hardness. When the ability of the resin to exchange is depleted the resin must be regenerated. That is done by backwashing and brining the resin. That is why electricity and a drain is required for a softener.

The tank exchange companies like Culligan offer is a routine replacement of the resin tank when resin hardness removal capacity is depleted with another resin tank and regenerated resin.

Exchange tanks will work exactly as well at removing hardness as a regenerating softener provided the tanks are exchanged before the resin's hardness removal capacity is exhausted.

The PRO is a simpler installation with no power or drain required.

The CON is a routine expense that will quickly exceed the cost of a softener that regenerates and will continue month after month after month and the inconvenience of routine visits by service people to exchange the tanks.

What you should consider is calling two or three local water treatment professionals, a name brand or two and a couple independent companies, and have them come out to inspect the installation area and make recommendations. Those are usually FREE estimates but check before committing to a visit.

See what they recommend, post that, and we'll comment.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2010 at 11:43AM
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In my experience from years past and from friends who use the Culligan replacement tanks today, they do work well and you can avoid initial expense and maintenance of having your own, except..........

As justalurker said, the cost does add up.

Also, there can be an issue with your local supplier with their own regeneration procedures. On countless occasions I've noticed salty water coming out of the replacement tanks for several gallons after a tank-change. Not every time, but not infrequently either. Settles down quickly but it certainly is an annoyance. Your own supplier may do a better job than those of my experience but if you want to go that direction, I would ask the question directly.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2010 at 2:45PM
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Thanks I will do that...

You mention that I will need a drain - I really don't recall having a drain at my old house that had a softner, though they could have had it going directly into something that I could not easily see. My last house had a well and the builder may have allowed for the softner.

My new house is on a slab and I do have a drain in that area, but it may not be easy to hook up too.

I will call a few places and see what they come up with.


    Bookmark   June 11, 2010 at 2:46PM
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The problem Asolo mentions with exchange tanks is too common. In their effort to spend as little time and water as possible regenerating the exchange tanks the resin isn't thoroughly rinsed and salt is left over from the brining stage of the regeneration.

Once the local pros inspect the site and give you their recommendations we'll have a place to start comparing the options.

If you have a viable installation area in the long run your own softener will be less costly and provide you more consistent water quality than exchange tanks.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2010 at 3:25PM
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I had one company recommend a Nelsen softner with a carbon filter (to remove chlorine) price $1,900 installed.

Culligan $1,300 + $100 for carbon filter

If my main reason for a softner is to have soft water for bathing and keeping my appliances in good shape. Do I need the carbon filter also?

Can I use softned water on my house plants and new outdoor plants and shrubs?

I actually do have room for a system (2 piece) and do have a usable drain.

Thank You

    Bookmark   September 20, 2010 at 2:14PM
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Chlorine (or a similar anti-bacterial compound) is added to municipal water to kill bacteria and will shorten the life of softener resin. If the amount is at the low end of EPA requirements the resin will last an average of over 10 years.

If the chlorine count is very high the resin life will be shorter.

I do not want to filter the anti-bacterials before the softener as that leaves the house plumbing, fixtures, and appliances exposed for possible bacterial colonization.

If you use NaCl (sodium chloride) as a softener regenerant then you do not want to water your plants with softened water.

If you use KCl (potassium chloride) as a regenerant then you can water your plants with softened water.

KCl is more expensive than NaCl so you have to decide if the extra cost is worth it to you.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2010 at 2:40PM
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The Nelsen softener @ $1900 is way overpriced unless the installation will require serious plumbing. The Culligan is more reasonably priced.

You'll want to ask both (and subsequent) companies if the softener will treat the entire house or only the hot water.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2010 at 2:50PM
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