Help! Looking for a water softener

mfahnestockOctober 6, 2010

All ---

Relatively new to water softeners. My wife and I bought our first house in 2003 and we knew the water was 22 grains hard, so we invested in a metered water softener using ion exchange. Recently, it looks like the softener is beginning to fail and we are thinking about a replacement.

I've been reading up on the various kinds and it appears the magnetic (ScaleBan) really haven't the consistent results I would hope to see, so it comes down to the salt-free or ion exchange. My wife is not a big fan of the ion exchange as she thinks the water has a "taste" to it she doesn't care for, so I am leaning towards the salt-free route.

So here's my questions:

1. Do they work? Are they a working industry alternative?

2. What companies would you recommend working with? I looked at Pelican's website and they were rather expensive, but I want to make sure I have actual opinions rather than market media.

Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

Mark

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mfahnestock

Further clarification. I understand that Pelican is a "water conditioner" so to speak and it focuses on descaling and scale prevention.. got it.

I have read a number of articles that talk about softening water. My current water softener is on the water line coming into the house (hot and cold). We soften it all. The water softener is in an extremely awkward location (in a crawlspace which is located underneath the junk closet.. lots of fun putting salt in every few months). It's been running almost 7 years now.

My main reason for having a water softener was that our water is 22 grains, and I actually like my appliances and would like to keep them for a longer period of time. So with all of the debate on water softener vs water conditioning.

Help me understand the following:

1. Is it important to soften water? Or is it important to prevent scale build up? Why?

2. My wife and I like the feel of water that actually suds up with soap and doesn't leave a gritty feeling after a shower. That's how we equate our hard water (and is also an indicator that I need to replace salt). So because of this, do I only get that feel with water softening, or can I get that with water conditioning?

Looking forward to guidance! Thanks!

    Bookmark   October 6, 2010 at 9:50PM
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justalurker

Soft water gets you longer service life on appliances, fixtures, plumbing and clothes and cuts down on soap and detergent consumption.

Softening water is most cost effectively done with ion exchange. Water conditioners do not soften water.

Let's set aside any discussion of alternatives until after you understand that the softener you have is not working properly.

From what you posted it is not. Most likely the softener you have is undersized for your water conditions and water usage and is wasting salt and water.

Since your indicator that you need to add salt is that the water goes hard you haven't been getting 0 hardness soft water since the first time the softener ran out of salt.

We may be able to recover your resin and get your softener operating properly and correctly set up.

So, in order to help you I need the following questions answered...

1. What brand and model softener do you have?

2. City water or well water?

3. Do you have the results of a water test? Hardness, iron, PH, manganese?

4. How many people in the house?

5. How many bathrooms in the house?

6. Any high water usage appliances like a Jacuzzi or monster shower?

    Bookmark   October 6, 2010 at 11:27PM
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mfahnestock

justalurker ---

Thanks for the reply. I do keep salt in the softener, but as I mentioned, it's getting fairly old and just doesn't seem as effective as it has been in the past. Here's the answers to your questions:

1. Mfg: Chemical Engineering Corporation, Model # CSM1001
2. City water
3. No recent tests, just the original test which stated 22 gpg.
4. 2 adults, 2 children + 1 on the way
5. 3 bathrooms (2 shower/tubs)
6. No high water usage appliances

    Bookmark   October 12, 2010 at 11:39PM
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justalurker

Unfortunately that is an obscure brand of softener and the model number is not indicative of it's size.

If you measure the height and diameter of the resin tank I can get an idea of the resin volume to determine it's hardness removal capacity. If you could post a picture that might help.

Since you're on city water the water authority can provide you a copy of the EPA mandated water tests they routinely do. you need to know hardness, iron, PH, and manganese at a minimum.

You said "My wife and I like the feel of water that actually suds up with soap and doesn't leave a gritty feeling after a shower. That's how we equate our hard water (and is also an indicator that I need to replace salt)" and that is a certain indicator that you let the softener run out of salt from time to time. The first time it ran out of salt the softener lost a considerable amount of it's hardness removal capacity and just adding more salt will not recover the resin. So, the softener has not been operating correctly since then.

An industry standard softener that is correctly sized and properly set up for the water conditions and water usage on city water should give reliable service for a minimum of 10 years with 15 years being a realistic expectation.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2010 at 1:41AM
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andy_c

"Water softening" is a specific term with definite parameters whereby hardness minerals are physically removed or exchanged for softness minerals. The use of sequestering chemicals (using surfactants) is not included here; "water conditioning" is a generic term used in marketing to vaguely claim that their system somehow changes the 'condition' of the water, which can mean almost anything.

The Pelican is a conditioner not a softener.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2010 at 7:35AM
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asolo

Except for the promotional sites themselves, I've yet to encounter any poster/user who has had a good experience with these electric "conditioning" devices. In particular, none have reported improved performance from clothes washers or dishwashers which all of the purveyors promise. It appears that they are not viable alternatives to ion-exchange type water softeners.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2010 at 11:06AM
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