Ecowater - Costco

cba6777August 21, 2013

Looking to find opinions on anyone who may have recently installed an EcoWater softener/refiner via Costco. I was quoted almost $5000 for the ERR3500, then a $500 costco cash card gets sent 4 weeks after install. I am worried that I am being ripped off here, so any opinions would be greatly appreciated! I am in Orange County, CA.

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You are not being ripped off, but you are buying a proprietary water softener that cost 3 to 4 times what an industry standard softener would cost. It will not remove hardness any better or last any longer or be more reliable than an industry standard softener.

Parts and service are only available from the ECO dealer and they won't provide technical info so you can help yourself. In essence you are married to the local dealer ... for better or for worse.

If you are considering a softener then... Water softener 101

Get a water test from a certified independent lab. A certified 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 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 who will be listed but without a national brand name affiliation. 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? 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.

Come back here and post the specific recommendations and hardware components with the costs.

We'll need the results of your water test... hardness, pH, TDS, manganese, iron, copper, sodium, arsenic, for starters along with the # of people in the house, # of bathrooms in the house, SFR of the plumbing, and do you have any high water use appliances like a monster shower or Jacuzzi and we'll give you our opinions.

This post was edited by justalurker on Wed, Aug 21, 13 at 18:01

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 3:01PM
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Apparently none of the neighbors have a water softener. Which makes this an even harder sell to my husband! Unfortunately the Culligan in our garage must have a leaking tank since there is salt everywhere, & I refuse to pay $140 for a service call. When we first moved here it must have been working, since we weren't getting spots on the sink and the towels were softer - I also felt that "soft water" feeling when I showered.

I had the water tested, the results were:
Hardness; 20 grains per gallon
Iron; N/D (Non Detected)
TDS (Total Dissolved Solids); 412 parts per million
PH; 7.9
Chlorine: very minimal level (trying to get actual figures)

It is just me and my husband along with 2 cats. We have 4 full bathrooms. I figure with a couple of people visiting per year, maybe at the VERY most I could see 2 showers being used, along with a toilet or two and maybe even a dishwasher or washing machine at the same time. But most of the time it's just us two. And if we had company over I could make sure the dishwasher or washing machine wasn't used at the same time 2 people are showering!

We do have a jacuzzi tub, I've used it once, maybe?

I did a test from that tub (separate hot and cold faucets, run togehter) and it filled a 2.75 gallon bucket in 26 seconds.

I had an independent seller come over and she used to work for Culligan. She tested the water pressure as 60psi and our hardness at 17. She recommended a Fleck 7000sxt valve with a 1.5 cu. ft EnviroTwin tank, with carbon for $1900. She said I didn't even need carbon in the tank because we don't have chlorine in the water, so the price without it would be $400 less. She said the entire system has a 10 year warranty. And they use 10% cross link resin.

Since our water tastes horrible, and the Culligan RO system is not working and we don't feel like spending money with Culligan to fix it - she gave us a quote for a Pro-Q 5-stage R/O system with one extra set of filters for $450. She said if we wanted to try and fix our Culligan R/O she could have the guys that install the water softener to replace the filters & membrane for $125.

I was going to get Kinetico or Hague in here, but I have been researching this so much that my head is spinning & it seems like they would be more like the pricing of the Ecowater.

So based on that additional information, what do you think?

    Bookmark   September 11, 2013 at 8:20PM
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Need to know...

Your SFR seems low. Did you bypass the softener when you did the SFR test? If not, then test again with softener bypassed.

On a well or municipal water system? If water system then there should be chlorine or chlorimines The percentage of resin cross link doesn't matter if there's no chlorine and I'll venture she's not using top quality brand name resin. More than likely it's anonymous pacific rim resin or Nelsen resin which is from the cheapest place they can find it.

If on a well then test for nitrates and bacteria

diameter of plumbing at softener location
# of people = 2 (cats don't count)
# of bathrooms = 4
chlorine (important)
pH = 7.9
TDS = 412

You can buy a brine tank for around $100 delivered to your home and you don't need a Culligan one... they are pretty universal. If that's all that's wrong with the Culligan you can save a lot of money. Might be worth the $140 for a service call to get an estimate for returning the Culligan to service... consider the $140 tuition.

You don't want a softener with mixed media (resin and anything) cause they are a PITA to service the media. 10 year warranty on parts or parts and labor? Regardless, she is way too expensive for both the softener and her RO. You can get a quality RO for less than $450. She used to work for Culligan and is trying to make Culligan profit on industry standard water treatment equipment... she isn't doing you any favors.

When you post that info we can size the softener and you can call another independent treatment company or two.

This post was edited by justalurker on Wed, Sep 11, 13 at 21:17

    Bookmark   September 11, 2013 at 8:55PM
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I found out that our city water comes from 3 different sources. Hardness is usually 17-18, but if one of the sources is used, it can be a range of 4.9-16. When I had the water tested it came back as 20. Yikes!

Other stats-
Iron- none
Manganese- none
Chlorine residual -1.7 ppm
Chloride - main source 85, other sources 90 or 12 ppm
Sodium - 86 (or 80 or 24)

Diameter of plumbing at softener location - 1"

At this point I am debating between:

Fleck 7000 w/1.5cu ft tank, 10% crosslinked resin
PureGen ProQ r/o with 1 set extra filters
$1950 includes installation, tax. Also includes extra 5 year warranty on Fleck valve.

Fleck 5800 w/1.5cu ft tank, 10% crosslinked resin)
PureGen ProQ r/o with 1 set extra filters
$1700 includes installation, tax

Other quotes I received:
Fleck 7000 w/2.0 cu ft tank, 8% crosslinked resin
PureT easytwist E3RO550-RETRO r/o
$1565 includes installation, tax
(Only in business 7 months & didn't know what warranty was on Fleck valve, so I don't entirely trust his knowledge.)

Fleck 5800 w/2.0 cu ft vortech tank, "high grade resin"
Watts W525-PWS r/o
$1996 includes installation, tax
(I've learned that vortech tanks are a great moneymaker for these guys, since it costs less to ship without the gravel- so I'm not entirely trusting this guy)

I guess my biggest questions are,
is there a huge difference in Fleck valves?
1.5 or 2.0 cu ft tank?

    Bookmark   October 14, 2013 at 12:07PM
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