Return to the Plumbing Forum | Post a Follow-Up

 o
Comments on EcoWater please

Posted by
neo.one
(gw:neo.one) on
Thu, Mar 23, 06 at 14:17

Hello,

I am looking into a water system for my home. This involves a softener and an RO unit. I am still making my way reading through the threads (and will continue reading after this post) and this whole area of softeners seems to be touchy. I apologize in bringing up the topic again but I am a newbie in this area and needed some specific comments.

So far, we've only had one quote from an EcoWater company. They recommended the ERR3002 (like this one but with a separate brine tank, at least I think that is what it is) for the water softening and the ERO R350 for the RO system. The estimate came to be 4000+ and although we do not mind paying for a good system, that price seems excessive. This comes with a lifetime warranty on the units, 10yr warranty on the electronics, installation of the softener (to code), RO to the sink and fridge, and a hose bib outside.

The things we like about the system also are:

- Regeneration is measured vs timed.
- Supposed low maintenance. Salt replacement is about 12 months. RO filters replaced about once a year. RO membrane about once every 3 years.
- Small foot print of softener. The water line is in a single car garage and it has to fit on the side of the garage while allowing the car to be parked. The softener is 14"x14" and the additional brine tank is 16"x16".

I know there will be questions on water quality, pipe sizes, and flow but I don't have those numbers yet. This is a brand new house. The builder would not plumb for a softener so everything has to be done afterwards

The EcoWater guy says the hardness is 13. All we know is that the water leaves spots, is rough on our skins, tastes terrible, and ice comes out smoky. We lived with a similar situation in our previous home with constant wiping down of everything near water. Although it minimizes spotting, the cleaning does not eliminate it.

We are a 4 member household with 2 pre-teen kids.

I apologize for the post being somewhat long. If you need more info, please ask and I will provided it if available. I would appreciate any and all responses on this system and alternatives. Specifically on this system, I'd like to know if much is just marketing/sales vs true value. I know people will have their biases but at this point I'd rather have more input than less.

Thank you.

Chris


Follow-Up Postings:

 o
RE: Comments on EcoWater please

FIRST, get your water tested so you know what you need to remove or treat in the water.

- Regeneration is measured vs timed.

Most current softeners are demand (measured) rather than timed. Ist is simply more efficent.

- Supposed low maintenance. Salt replacement is about 12 months.

That simply means they are filling the brine tank with salt which can lead to bridging in the bottom of the brine tank. Better way is to only put in as much salt as you need to cover the water. Simple and EZ to monitor on a weekly basis.

-RO filters replaced about once a year. RO membrane about once every 3 years.

RO filter and membrane replacement depends on the hardness, TDS, and other problems with your water and the gallon usage. Their RO won't be dramatically more efficent that the competition.

- Small foot print of softener. The water line is in a single car garage and it has to fit on the side of the garage while allowing the car to be parked. The softener is 14"x14" and the additional brine tank is 16"x16".

The diameter of the resin tank (the actual softener) depends on the capacity of hardness removal you require for your water hardness. With a hardness of 13 and four people in the house a 1.5 cu ft softener would be a 10" diameter by 54" tall resin tank and you can get brine tanks in 11x11 so physical size is not really an issue or something unique to ECOwater.

Check around locally for other water treatment companies for second and third and fourth opinions. Ask you neighbors who they use. If you find a local water treatment pro who you trust and their prices are competetive give them consideration. Quality hardware, competent installation AND service AFTER the sale is what you're looking for.

As far as the builder, the time to plumb for a softener is BEFORE and NOT after the house is built. When you choose a softener company make sure the price includes installation and any permits required. Get them to work with the builder because it will save you money and grief in the long run.

Ask questions, and then ask more questions. do your homework.

Water softeners ain't rocket science but it is chemistry and physics :)


 o
RE: Comments on EcoWater please

  • Posted by
    neo.one
    (gw:neo.one) on
    Thu, Mar 23, 06 at 21:13

Thanks for the reply. I will get the water tested in more detail and check into a few more local companies. As for plumbing for a softener before the house is done, it is too late. We had asked before but they did not want to do it. We will just have to deal with it now (like everything else in life :)).


 o
RE: Comments on EcoWater please

Then the quality of the softener install and the people you choose to do it are all the more important.

Please let us know what you find out.


 o
RE: Comments on EcoWater please

Chris

You asked for any and all comments so I am taking the liberty to respond. jal did a good job in outlining the basics and what needs to be done before you start looking at various solutions to your water problem(s).

One thing I recommend to all is that they have their water tested by a service or agency that DOES NOT SELL WATER TREATMENT EQUIPMENT. That will help ensure you receive an unbiased test report. AFTER you understand what is in the water you want corrected is the time to start looking for proposals from various vendors. NOT BEFORE. If you are on a municipal water system they will be able to supply you with a test report on the water usually at no charge.

You wrote: "I would appreciate any and all responses on this system and alternatives. Specifically on this system, I'd like to know if much is just marketing/sales vs true value. I know people will have their biases but at this point I'd rather have more input than less."

Please understand that nearly all that a water softener sales person tells you applies to ANY WATER SOFTENER. There are NO SECRECTS in the treatment of water problems. Pretty much what you get from a salesperson is all show and, more often than not, outrageous prices. The main differences are only if the units are measured or clock type and their associated warranties. Most all the rest is simply "bells and whistles" to impress you. The ole dog and pony show stuff. It is alive and well today in the water treatment business.

Water softeners and RO's are available at most home improvement and hardware type stores to include SEARS. You are probably unaware that Ecowater manufactures SEARS water softeners and RO's so you maybe able to find a unit a SEARS that comes close to duplicating the Ecowater softener and RO at a far more reasonable price. For example, you can purchase a one cubic foot metered (measured) water softener from SEARS for $400 or less on sale. RO's go for less than $200. Those are just examples. Look around.

The Ecowater water softener they pitched you has activated carbon in it because their site states it reduces tastes and odors. Generally it is NOT a good idea to place activated carbon in a water softener tank because it gets mixed up easily with the water softener resin (ion exchange material) and ends up having a reduced service life. (That is another one of those sales gimmicks) Furthermore it is expensive to have them come out and "change out" the activated carbon after it quits working because they also have to throw out the water softener resin with it. Find out how much they would charge you for the change out if you wanted it done. The amount of activated carbon placed in a water softener is usually not sufficient to last a family your size on city water more than a year or so. Keep that in mind. If you want taste, odor, and chlorine removal from your water that is best accomplished by a SEPARATE TANK OF ACTIVATED CARBON AFTER the water softener. A 1 cubic foot tank of activated carbon will remove chlorine from a million or more gallons of water. A separate tank like that would not require any special plumbing or valves (they are installed in an upflow fashion)and simply sit there and do their job. You can purchase those for generally $300 to $400. Cheap enough for about 10 years of service and easier to change out as well.

You can also buy equipment from SEARS and they can arrange installation, same thing with HOME DEPOT. You can also get quotes from local plumbers to install if you choose to go that route. That $4000+ number they threw at you seems awfully high to me considering the water line is already in the garage and all they would need to do is cut into it for the softener and run a line for an outside faucet. Hooking up the RO is not difficult, many homeowners can do it themselves easily enough. At any rate unless there are things you are unaware of or not understanding about the installation all I can say at this time is that price they gave you is at least $2500 too much.

Regarding salt useage for your family. I ran a few numbers and came up with an estimate of between 500 and 600 pounds of salt use per year. So if that person is telling you to put that much in one tank at a time, well...........I think you need to look for another person. I dont like the idea of putting in salt weekly, too much hassle. For my water softener I buy 50# salt blocks (also available in 25# size) and toss in a couple in the salt (brine)tank as needed. No problems with "bridging" either.

And by the way, you will still have spotting when you have a water softener (spots are caused by minerals in the water one of which is sodium), however, they are much more easily cleaned up. :)

Good luck.


 o
RE: Comments on EcoWater please

In responding to the statement in Chris' original post that EcoWater told him "salt replacement is about 12 months" I am in error. Obviously even if the salt usage is only one bag per month (and that is low for Chris' usage) the 16x16 brine tank would need to hold 480 lbs of salt in order to meet EcoWater's statement that "salt replacement is about 12 months". That statement from EcoWater needs to be clarified and again, as johngeorge pointed out, I am in error.

As far as salt replacement using a 50lb block "as needed" isn't that about the same as putting in a 40lb bag once a week or AS NEEDED?

And johngeorge, thanks for the dose of attitude ... "so if that person is telling you to put that much in one tank at a time, well...........I think you need to look for another person". I hadn't had mine yet today and the forum is better served without it. We're all just trying to help ... some more than others.


 o
RE: Comments on EcoWater please

Water softeners and RO's are available at most home improvement and hardware type stores to include SEARS. You are probably unaware that Ecowater manufactures SEARS water softeners and RO's so you maybe able to find a unit a SEARS that comes close to duplicating the Ecowater softener and RO at a far more reasonable price.

We bought a Sears water softener several years ago. It lasted one whole day (was essentially DOA but managed to flood the basement as a parting shot). Aside from the battle we had with Sears to take care of the problem, when we replaced it with a genuine Ecowater softener (they're built locally), I saw that the Sears version had plastic gears where the Ecowater had metal; the plastic cabinetry was thinner on the Sears, and so on.

Don't forget that Sears specifies how the products with their brands are built. It should make people think when Sears sells "the same" product with more features for less money. Sears -- like pretty much every other company -- is out to make as much money as it can. Think about how they can do that by adding features and cutting prices. Maybe where they cut back makes a difference, maybe it doesn't. But the extra stuff they're throwing in or the price they're offering you is not "free." You can decide if you want to pay it.


 o
RE: Comments on EcoWater please

To johngeorge,

I want to apologize for my remarks regarding your "attitude" in your post. I responded to what I perceived, was attitude directed at me in your post. Re-reading your post I am in error and see that your remarks were not directed at me. I should have read your post more carefully.

Please accept my apology.


 o
RE: Comments on EcoWater please

  • Posted by
    neo.one
    (gw:neo.one) on
    Fri, Mar 24, 06 at 13:45

johngeorge,

Thanks for your input. From reading here, I did notice that the Sears units are built by EcoWater. I think GE's (sold by HD) might be too. I looked into HD and Lowes (sells Whirlpool) and some do not offer installation of softeners. The ones that do only do replacements and not new installs.

Also, like Steve_o pointed out, the specs of units from Sears and others may differ from what EcoWater provides directly. One of the things I was trying to ascertain is the details of this difference.

With the amount of salt needed from yours and justalurker's calculations, that is a lot of salt. I am not sure what the sales guy was referring to then. He kept pushing the lifetime warranty (besides the 10 years on the electronics) so that if anything went wrong, things will be replaced for free. So what you are saying is that there really is no way to feasibly maintain the system other than having a once a week (or at least once a month) routine to check the system and levels?

justalurker,
Thanks again for the additional info. I am glad you caught johngeorge's reference. I read it as a poke at the salesman and not you. :)

As for the specs of the recommended EcoWater units, are they typical, better, or worse than the ones that can be put together elsewhere (like with Fleck and Clack)? If better, is it more the price? Kind of like Bose (no offense intended to Bose owners :)) where the package is nice but just somewhat over priced.


 o
RE: Comments on EcoWater please

Chris,

After you've contacted a couple or three other local water treatment people you will have the answers to most of your last questions.

The "ready-built" softeners like the Sears, GE, Morton, and such are not as well designed or made of the same quality components and materials as the REAL softeners you'll get from a local pro. IMO, the "ready-built" ones are OK for slightly hard city water and people up against a constraining budget. Any softener is better than no softener at all IF YOU HAVE HARD WATER.

In general you'll get a better designed, more reliable, longer-lived, and easier to get parts for softener from a local pro ... especially if they have a good reputation for servicing what they sell. These softeners will deal with harder water better, longer, and require less service than a "ready-built" one.

Your Bose analogy is sort of relevent ... a Bose Wave Radio sounds real good in a small space or for background music but it'd be hard pressed to do home theater.

With your hardness and water usage you'll be better off with a Fleck or Clack or Autotrol or Kinetico or Culligan or Rayne or such from a local dealer you trust to do a proper install and who will stand behind their product and their work.


 o
RE: Comments on EcoWater please

justalurker

No apology necessary. :) After rereading my post I can see how that particular statement could have been misinterpreted. Darn written word, no inflection or body language.

You are obviously very knowledgeable about water softeners. Are you in the business? Just being nosey. I was in the business, but, had to give it up as my knees gave out on me. If you are in the business I feel certain you have many satisfied customers. Good service is what gets them and keeps them.

Best to you.
johngeorge


 o
RE: Comments on EcoWater please

Chris

You wrote "With the amount of salt needed from yours and justalurker's calculations, that is a lot of salt. I am not sure what the sales guy was referring to then. He kept pushing the lifetime warranty (besides the 10 years on the electronics) so that if anything went wrong, things will be replaced for free. So what you are saying is that there really is no way to feasibly maintain the system other than having a once a week (or at least once a month) routine to check the system and levels?"

You can generally have salt delivered and placed in the salt (brine) tank, in most areas, by a water treatment dealer on a scheduled basis if that is a service you would want or need. You will pay more for your salt that way. Otherwise you will be responsible for checking the salt levels on a regular basis and adding any if needed, ie, water barely covers the top of the salt in the tank. There really is nothing to picking up the cover of the salt tank and peering inside to see if it needs salt. Remember, the fuel the water softener runs on is salt. Keep gas in its tank. :)

Regards the amount of salt used per year the figures you were given are not unreasonable nor out of the ordinary for a family of 4 with 13 grains hard water. (1 grain of hardness = 17 mg/l) Some info on water softeners is found here: http://www.ext.vt.edu/pubs/housing/356-490/356-490.html

There really should not be any service necessary on the water softener for a number of years unless, of course, you get a lemon like steve. What a terrible experience that must of been. My own experience with various makes of softeners is that, yes, there are slight differences in the valve designs and their construction. However most, if not all, manufacturers warrant their equipment for a number of years.

As justalurker pointed out; "The "ready-built" softeners like the Sears, GE, Morton, and such are not as well designed or made of the same quality components and materials as the REAL softeners you'll get from a local pro. IMO, the "ready-built" ones are OK for slightly hard city water and people up against a constraining budget. Any softener is better than no softener at all IF YOU HAVE HARD WATER."

So if indeed you are on municipal water and you simply have a hard water problem most any off the shelf box water softener will work just fine for you.

Good luck.


 o
RE: Comments on EcoWater please

Let me clarify my statement that "IMO, the "ready-built" ones are OK for slightly hard city water and people up against a constraining budget. Any softener is better than no softener at all IF YOU HAVE HARD WATER".

By "slightly hard city water" I mean LESS than 3-4 grains of hardness. Over that, IMO you should be looking at a REAL softener. Over 10 grains of hardness the limitations of the ready-built softeners begin to show and over 15 grains the "ready-built" softeners have less years of service and begin to require repairs more often.

BUT, if all you can afford is a "ready-built" softener then having one of them is better than having no softener at all. A "ready-built" softener will definitely work but it will not work indefinitely. As long as you know what you're getting then you won't be surprised down the road.

The trials and tribulations of Sears, ECO, GE, Morton, et al softeners are well documented in many threads on this and other forums. The fact is, a competetive local water treatment pro will offer you a REAL softener for little more than the cost of a "ready-built" if you figure in the "value-add" of a proper installation, proper setup, a warranty that works, and service after the sale. All those aspects of buying a water softener are worth money and should be considered. A water softener is more than just an appliance and your water quality is important.


 o
RE: Comments on EcoWater please

  • Posted by
    neo.one
    (gw:neo.one) on
    Sat, Mar 25, 06 at 5:39

When I sounded surprised at the amount, I meant more as a lot in the tank at one time since I supposedly (from the salesman) only needed to deal with salt once a year. If I need to monitor it weekly, monthly, ..., I will. I don't need a salt "service" which is what turned me off from Culligan. I am not sure about now, but when we talked to a Culligan rep for our previous home, it sounded like system AND service was mandatory.

Well, it is now the weekend so I have a few more days to do more reading before making calls on Monday. :)


 o
RE: Comments on EcoWater please

I had a unit made by Ultima at my previous house - it lasted 7 years with no problems until I moved. It ran about $700 at the time, and another $300 or so for the matching RO unit.

When I built my new house I decided to see what was out there so I got the sales pitches from Eco, Pure, and Culligan. Eco and Pure were shockingly expensive - around $4000 like your quote. Culligan was around $2500 so I gave them a try. I ended up unhappy with the unit and their service so I returned it.

After all that I ended up with an Ultima again. Should've just stuck with my original water guy to begin with. The softener has a Fleck 7000 valve with 1.25" port to match my water line. The softener plus RO came in at around $1500 installed. Our family of 3 used to use about 50 pounds of salt a month, give or take. I go to Home Depot at least that often so I usually just picked up a bag or two each time I was there.


 o
RE: Comments on EcoWater please

  • Posted by
    neo.one
    (gw:neo.one) on
    Sun, Mar 26, 06 at 20:45

Thanks chiefneil. That looks like a nice setup.


 o
RE: Comments on EcoWater please

Hi Chris,

Most EcoWater dealers are independently owned & operated so you should consider both the equipment and the local service department as to the overall value your investment represents. A good rule of thumb (in addition to licensed, bonded, insured, carry workman's comp., etc) is has the local company been around for at least ten years and are there neighbors you have that are current customers.

My opinion on water treatment differs from johngeorge's on the use of activated carbon for chlorine reduction. It not only improves odor & taste but also protects the resin from chlorine fouling. When that happens, the resin loses capacity & will experience a significant pressure drop, requiring the resin replacement. If a carbon tank is placed in service, it should be installed before the softener and have a control valve to backwash on a regular basis. Another option is to install a big blue filter with a carbon cartridge but is pretty costly over time. The thrid choice is a multi-media bed where you will find activated carbon, resin, & gravel as a set up. Not all tick carbon is the grade that mixes with the resin, which makes both ineffective, as johngeorge points out.

I also disagree with the assessment that a water treatment company cannot provide both a water analysis & recommend treatment options. Unless there are fluctuating water hardness levels in your city (like many areas in my local geography), the water data from in home testing should be very similar. Most city water testing includes water hardness, pH, chlorine, and total dissolved solids (TDS). From that point forward, the biggest factors in choosing a softening system will be pipe size (to match valve size), single tank vs. twin system, and capacity. If you get several companies out there, you should get a range of systems and companies that can narrow your search down to a system you'll have confidence in.

Most customers pick up their own salt and have no problems with cleaning out their salt tanks 1-2 times per year. Depending on which system you choose to purchase, there are several other service steps that should be conducted every year which most homeowners can easily do, too.

Good luck with your future purchase.

Art


 o
RE: Comments on EcoWater please

HEY, I AM INQUIRING ON IF YOU WENT WITH ECOWATER FOR A SOFTNER. IF SO DO YOU LIKE IT. I AM IN THE PROCESS OF GETTING THE SAME SOFTNER AND WOULD APPRECIATE SOME FEED BACK IF POSSIBLE.

THANKS ALOT,
BRUNO


 o
RE: Comments on EcoWater please

I had a question to all of you.

On the product itself is there a difference between companies such as EcoWater, RainSoft and Ultima? If so, knowingly that these are opinions only which one do you prefer?

Thanks!

PS new mbr and new home owner


 o
RE: Comments on EcoWater please

As an Ecowater installer/service technician I answer a lot of questions regarding water treatment, so I will provide you with some water for thought! First of all Kitchen cold and all outside taps MUST be bypassed, if not then a Bypass must be provided at the softener (either a three valve bypass or plunger style twin valve etc...) secondly raw water should be used to water all plant life! Calcium and Magnesium are essential for growth and mineral balance (PH too). R.O water has very low dissolved solids measuring as low as 4 ppm. This is very clean water so consuming large volumes one should also be supplementing their diet with vitamins. There also some confusion about membrane life and replacement times. One simple rule is get a water test every year (free at my shop) yearly filter changes and service and always run you R.O feed line off a softened line. Doing this extends the life of membranes and sodium (an potassium) don't get through. ERR3500 is a Refiner not a softener, refiners have carbon layers and a multi media bed which removes some iron and other contaminants. True the carbon depletes quicker and will require re-bedding in a five to eight years depending on the water source. But this carbon layer removes chlorine and acts like a polishing filter. I have this model and I'm much happier than just having a softener. Another feature that the ERR3500 has is a water use memory. A map of water use is generated for 28 days and thus only the bed that needs regeneration is regenerated. Ecowater accomplishes regenerations using an 80 percent brine strength. So the salt doesn't sit submerged in water all the time. At the beginining of the cycle water is added in the brie tank and when the cycle is complete the brine tank is "dry", the boards require next to nothing in power consumption and have a user friendly, data loaded display with remote. Our demand principle means no needless regens and the water use map takes an educated guess when a decision needs to be made! One final note Ecowater has used up flow brining with great success for example a household of 2 at fifteen grain hard water the household will go through around 4-5 bags of salt per year (there is even programming for potassium salt built in!). Good luck with a tough decision there is a lot of info out there!

Regards,


 o
RE: Comments on EcoWater please

Watertreater,
I saw your note from 2009 regarding Ecowater and I am confused about the reason for bypass on Kitchen cold water--wouldn't you want this water fully treated? The current model used potassium salt--what would you estimate this would cost per year for 2 adults with average water usage? Thanks in advance--hope you still are active on this site.

Phacelia.


 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!


Return to the Plumbing Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Please review our Rules of Play before posting.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.


Learn more about in-text links on this page here