Independent Water Tech - Softener/Filter

btwineSeptember 26, 2011

I'm on the hunt to replace a GE water softener that seems to have constant problems, with a better unit. The last plumber who came to fix the GE suggested the Independent water tech unit. I have done some research and they are a Canadian company with NSF certification.

However, it looks like on GardenWeb most of you prefer the Kinetico systems. Does anyone have any experience with the IWT units?

Thank You

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Among the top tier softeners there are two main camps...

Proprietary design where parts and service is available only through the authorized dealer network. The better known companies are Kinetico, Culligan, and ECOwater to name a few. These products tend to be much pricier than industry standard softeners and you are completely dependent on your local dealer for parts and service and usually at PREMIUM prices.

Industry standard softeners are sold by (local) independent water treatment professionals. These sellers assemble softeners using industry standard components and warranty them in house. Top quality components are Fleck, Autotrol, or Clack control valves and Purolite or Sybron resin, and Structural resin tanks. These dealers can tailor water treatment hardware to your exact needs and these industry standard softeners will last as long or longer than any proprietary softener with the same maintenance the proprietary softeners require. Industry standard softeners usually cost half to one third of what the Kineticos and Culligans cost and a real benefit is that tech info and parts and are available all over the internet and there's always an independent water treatment pro almost everywhere that services these industry standard softeners.

IWT seems to be offering industry standard softeners at a higher price than an independent water treatment pro to cover their advertising and marketing investment.

Here's what I'd do...

Get a water test from an independent 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.

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

    Bookmark   September 26, 2011 at 3:50PM
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"...most of you prefer the Kinetico systems..."

Wouldn't say that. I and a few other users have been frequent posters, true, but there are certainly other satisfied users of other units.

I have liked Kinetico because they're very efficient, don't require electrical hookups, and their guys did everything while I did nothing from beginning to end. In almost 20 years of use with old and new designs I've had no issues....unless you count refurbishment after about 16 years an issue. So, yeah, I like them.

I was also willing to pay their price, which is at the top end of all purveyors. I've also been living in the same two houses for twenty years. And Kinetico is well represented where I live. If I was intending to move in a few years, or lived well away from their service area I would likely have done something else. As it is, Kinetico has given me value for the dollar in my personal situation. They've held up their end of the bargain.

Local vendors and DIY'ers can have perfectly serviceable, quality units for far less money. Depends on your own skill and/or that of your local vendors.

Basically, I agree with justalurker.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2011 at 4:03PM
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Wow, ok, thank you so much for the information - looks like I have a lot of footwork to do before I post back. Thank you for your assistance and after I get the above done I'll be back!

    Bookmark   September 27, 2011 at 5:41AM
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