Newbie Water Softener Swap Advice

grandmumJuly 26, 2013

Bought a home that has a rented water softener and a whole house filter, both of which i am not familar with, never had soften water.

I dont want to rent the equipment and was thinking of installing a 44000 Whirlpool softener and getting rid of the filter all together.

Water hardness in area is in the 30-35 range and there are two people in the household.

Im not sure if this water filter is a neccessity either (obviously enough so that the previous owners had it) but I was thinking if so, I can add one under the kitchen sink instead at a later time.

As said, I know nothing about water softening so any advice or warnings are welcomed about installing or anything in general I should know before proceeding.

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35 gpg hardness is LUDICROUS hard so a softener is a very good idea. You'll get longer service life out of your plumbing, appliances, and fixtures. Your water heater will operate more efficiently your clothes will last longer, and you'll use a lot less soap and detergent. Since you already have a softener installed replacing it will me a simple job.

You might want to inquire from the company that you're renting from now exactly what you have and if you can buy it.

I would avoid the Sears, Whirlpool, GE, Morton, Northstar, etc box store softeners as they are low quality and a PITA to repair and service. although some people love them they are considered disposable.

With your water's hardness I recommend installing a Reverse Osmosis (RO) unit under the kitchen sink for drinking, cooking, and water for the ice maker if you have one.

Ok, water softener 101 ...

Get a water test from an independent certified lab. An independent lab has no agenda and won't be trying to sell you water treatment equipment. This is a MUST DO because without it everything is a guess. A quickie water test from Sears or a water softener company won't be as accurate (and possibly not as competent) as from a certified independent lab.

If you're on a water system the water utility can supply you with the specs of the water AS IT LEAVES their facility but that is not necessarily representative of the water conditions at your water meter.

Hit the Yellow Pages and call at least three local water treatment pros. Make sure you call at least one of the big dogs like Kinetico or Culligan for comparison and at least a couple independent pros. DON'T TELL THEM YOU HAD YOUR WATER TESTED.

Give each an opportunity to offer suggestions and provide you with a quote to meet your water treatment needs. IGNORE ANY THAT DON'T TEST YOUR WATER THEMSELVES as they can't speak intelligently to water treatment without knowing what needs to be treated.

Ask lots of questions. Softening the entire house or just the water heater (IMO a bad idea)? Warranty, parts & labor or just parts, how long and on exactly what? Install, permits required, licensed plumber? Routine maintenance and costs? Do they stock parts? Response time for emergency (water leak) calls? If they don't explain things to your satisfaction that is a good indicator of how you'll be treated after the sale.

After they've gone use your water test to compare with theirs. Are all your treatment needs being addressed?

Ask your neighbors if they have any water treatment experience. They might tell you who's good or who to avoid.

We also need to know # of bathrooms and the SFR of the plumbing. You can find the SFR bt putting a 1 gallon bucket unfer the bathtub spout and time how long it takes to fill it with both hot and cold faucets open.

Do you have any high water use appliances like a Jacuzzi?

Come back here and post the specific recommendations and hardware components with the costs and we'll give you our opinions.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2013 at 10:05AM
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Thanks for the great info!

As it stands now we are using the local reputable water treatment business that everyone in town uses. The rental fee is 20 bucks a month and that includes service calls etc. Everything is working as it should.

I come from 2 schools of thought... if it aint broke done fix it... and why rent when you can own....

My options are either buy a big box softener install myself or continue with this company/rental. I do not want to pony up thousands for a quality system.

im unclear which stance to take in this case but I have lots of information now to consider.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2013 at 2:17PM
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Well, $20 a month = $240 a year and never having to pay to fix it. Just add salt as needed and you're good to go.

In rough numbers you'd be looking to buy a softener around $700 off the internet and more from a local company. You'd have to install it and set up the control valve or pay someone to do it. You'd probably be paying your local reputable water treatment business to fix it if you had a problem and at a significant hourly rate.

This is what I'd do... have the local reputable water treatment business come out and test your water before the softener and after the softener to be sure your are getting the water you expect and are paying for. Should be ZERO hardness after the softener all the wat until it regenerates. If the softener is not correctly sized or is tired you'll get hard water leakage before the softener regenerates. You're paying for soft water and you ought to get it.

If they are coming put and exchanging resin tanks periodically then you want soft water until the minute they exchange tanks. A hardness test at that moment will tell you that.

If the water holds soft until the softener regenerates then keep renting... you're getting a dollar's worth for a dollar and that is the best deal there is or ever was..

This post was edited by justalurker on Fri, Jul 26, 13 at 17:42

    Bookmark   July 26, 2013 at 3:06PM
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Don't waste your money on a big box store softener... not with 35 gpg hardness. It will be regenerating so often that the service life will be a lot shorter than you'll like and will be right back where you are now but without a working softener.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2013 at 6:46PM
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