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Water Softener Questions

Posted by cjzimmer (My Page) on
Tue, Jan 12, 10 at 13:11

I've started reading through various posts on here and my head is spinning. I thought I could easily pick a water softener and replace the unit I'm currently renting and be done. However, now I realize this is far more complicated than I ever realize and am attempting to learn. Please bare with my newbie questions.

Currently Renting a Culligan Estate 2 water softener. We've had it about 11 years. I know nothing about the specifications as the guy on the phone didn't volunteer much information and I didn't know what to ask. Now I've started research so I realize I need alot more information.

TO buy the 11 year old unit is $299 a new unit is $799. I presume this was the same model as the current unit however it doesn't seem to be made anymore since it's not listed on Culligan's website.

We are on city water that is very hard. I haven't had a recent in home test done but the city report says it would be about 20 (which is in line from what I remember when it was tested years ago). We don't have any problems with iron.

We have 7 in the family, but 5 of them are kids, among the group we average only 2 showers a day but we run the dishwasher 2-3 times a day. I'm sure our water usage will go up as they grow but I'm not sure how much longer we will stay here (guesstimate is 5 years) Looking at my water bill it looks like we are averaging 8-10k gallons of water a month (if I'm reading the statement correctly)

So my first questions are about sizing. With the calculators they have given me numbers of anywhere from 32,000-110,000. Since I don't even know what I current have, I have no idea what to compare to. What seems a realistic size?

If I already have a softener installed, is it easy to pull out what unit and install another? I don't know much about these things but I'm willing to read/learn if it's feasible for a not very mechanically person to do so. If I have to redo plumbing I know that is out of my league but I'm hoping since one has been installed it will be more like disconnect one and reconnect the other.

Would you purchase one of the Culligan units mentioned above or invest in something else? If you knew you would be only using it 5 years would that affect your choice? What if you planned to stay longer?

Lastly I don't have alot to spend on this right now. I think I need to keep this below $1,000 but closer to $500 if that's feasible. If my numbers are completely unrealistic please tell me that and I will know I have to wait to make this purchase.

Thanks for any information you can share.

Stephanie


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Water Softener Questions

I wouldn't buy the 11 year old Culligan cause it's getting long in the tooth and will need a rebed in the near future. It's a timer based softener and that is old inefficient technology. Odds are it is undersized and hardness is leaking though. How often does the softener regenerate?

If your house is properly plumbed for a softener at the service entrance then yes, another softener will screw or solder right in, but you may need a plumber. If your current softener is only softening the water to the water heater that's another story entirely.

If you buy a contemporary on demand softener that is correctly sized then it will be an asset to the home and can be appreciated by a seller if you move.

In order to correctly size a softener we need to know the exact water conditions, # of people (7), and # of bathrooms. Do you have any high water use appliances like a Jacuzzi?

Based on what you've posted above the softener would be around 3.5 cu ft and that size of a QUALITY softener will never be bought for $500... maybe $1000 if you mail order it and you'd assemble and install it yourself with little to no service after the sale... you'd be on your own buying mail order.

Here's my advice...

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. Go to http://www.epa.gov/safewater/labs/index.html to locate a certified lab near you. 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.

Since 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 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.


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RE: Water Softener Questions

Thank you for your advice. It's helping me to figure out where to start. As far as more specifics, We have 2 full bathrooms but one is only used a couple times a day when someone can't wait for the main one to be unoccupied. We have never used both showers at the same time. Our only water using items are the dishwasher (run frequently) and a front loader washer than runs about 5-7 loads a week.

I'm pretty sure the water softener is only treating the water to the heater. The unit sits right next to the heater and I remember discussion about not treating the cold water line so the drinking water would taste better.

Why do you consider this setup a bad idea? I thought you weren't suppose to drink softened water because of the extra sodium? Surely I'm missing something so please fill me in.

I'll followup after I get more information about my water. Thanks again for you help


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RE: Water Softener Questions

That's all the info I need... ask Culligan what size (how many cubic feet of resin is in) the $799 softener they want to sell you and exactly what model Culligan they are recommending.

What is the height and diameter of the resin tank on your Culligan... the tank with the control valve on it?

"I'm pretty sure the water softener is only treating the water to the heater. The unit sits right next to the heater and I remember discussion about not treating the cold water line so the drinking water would taste better.

Why do you consider this setup a bad idea?".

Yes, IMO it is a bad idea and not in the best interest of the homeowner. You can read my comments on the subject by clicking here

If you care to Google you'll find a lot written and posted on the subject.

"I thought you weren't suppose to drink softened water because of the extra sodium? Surely I'm missing something so please fill me in".

If a water treatment salesperson told you it's bad to drink softened water it is because they can only close the sale by installing the softener to only soften the hot water. That was a common sales tactic back in the door-to-door days

If you're healthy then the amount of sodium (NOTE it is NOT salt) or potassium (if you're using that) exchanged into 20 grain hard water to soften it is around what's in a slice of white bread. My water is 30 grain plus hard, is softened with KCl, and I'm still typing.

If your doctor has put you on a low sodium or NO sodium diet then using potassium chloride as a regenerent is an acknowledged NO sodium substitute. BTW, potassium is good for you. Like bananas? They're a great source of potassium.

So, for 11+ years your water heater and hot plumbing has seen soft water while all the supply and cold plumbing, fixtures, faucets, and appliances has seen 20g hard water. Where the hot and cold mix you're getting a hard-soft water mixture so you're not getting the advantage of using less soap and detergent.

If you're paying for soft water then you should be getting 0 hardness soft water all the time, everywhere in the house... nothing less.


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RE: Water Softener Questions

"If a water treatment salesperson told you it's bad to drink softened water it is because they can only close the sale by installing the softener to only soften the hot water. That was a common sales tactic back in the door-to-door days"

I don't quite get that. Can you elaborate?


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RE: Water Softener Questions

In the old days of door-to-door hit and run sales and easy and cheap install (or included in the outrageously high price) was a big part of the appeal to home owners. Since very few homes were built then with any provision for softener installs and there usually was room to sit a softener next to the water heater and a laundry sink close by provided the drain it made for a quick and easy softener install and a slick close by the salesperson so they could move on down the block and make their quota for the day.

Anyone caring to do a little research will be amazed to find how many restaurants are putting softened water on the table and one would never know.

Granted, NaCl softened water tastes different than unsoftened water and so does KCl softened water and so does RO water but the differences in taste are that you're not tasting what has been removed from the water. In a way, RO and or distilled water is what WATER itself tastes like.

Softening ONLY the hot water still exposes the cold plumbing and every fixture and appliance to the negatives of hard water and where cold and hot mix the water is still hard.

Why pay for a softener and not get the benefits of soft water?


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