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help! water softener and ro system for my home

Posted by Jlmurph2 (My Page) on
Wed, Apr 3, 13 at 12:42

To whom it concerns,

I would like some advice on water softeners and RO systems. I've done a lot of blog reading, I've met with a Culligan Rep, a Kinetico Rep, and spoken with an online retailer (budgetwater.com), and I am still having a hard time deciding.

Here are the basic details of my water.
-19-21 hardness
-.7 chlorine
-550 Disolved particales
-No Iron
-City Water
-zipcode = 45039-OH
-2 Adults, 2 children - So let's say 4 Adults

Now my first concern is what type of softener I should buy - I'm not too interested in the sizing of the unit as I'm confident I'd be able to determine that on my own and with the help of the company I'd buy the softener from.

What I am interested in first and foremost is whether I should buy the Culligan (Medallist Series - $1,379.18 (with an external carbon filter add $426)), the Kinetico (4040 - $3,051.90 which includes the carbon filter internally), or some random online brand (you'd probably be able to recommend the best one for me but I have looked at Budgetwater.com based out of PA - priced around $600-$700). The Culligan and Kinetico installation is included in the price where as the online one is not.

So which one should I buy? What would you recommend? Does one need to be services more than another? Maintance costs? Which one will simply last the longest before I'd need a new one?

My next conern is whether I even need a Carbon filter? What exactly does a carbon filter do? I know it removes chlorine but what else? The Chlorine levels are not even high enough to mater....so what else do I benefit from having a Carbon filter?

Once I determine the type of softener...my next conern is the reverse osmosis product I choose. Cullligan offers two types, one at $699+tax that includes installation and then one at $1,099+tax that includes installation. Is one really that much better than the other to justify the $400 increase?

Kinetico then offers two different reverse osmosis machines as well...one at $1,193 and another at $1,368. They proclaim that theirs are the very best on the market.

The online retailer offered me a reversee osmosis machine for around $200 that does not include any installation. I'd also like to point out that the online retailer offers a 5 yr warranty on all parts for everything they'd sell me...no labor warranty of course.

Aside from the warranties, I'm interested in why there is such a price difference between the Online retailer and Culligan/Kinetico. Next I am interested in which RO system is better when looking at Culligan's and Kinetico's.

Lastly I'm then interested in whether there is an alternative that you'd recommend as a RO system that is a better bang for your buck for the RO system.

Note that my reverse osmosis system will be located under my sink and have a line running to my fridge as well.

This pretty much wraps up my questions for now. I want a good product that gets the jov done and done right...but I don't want to pay more than I have to. I want the best value for what I'm paying.

It's hard to convince myself to pay that much money for a Kinetico.

Last question, do the prices above for the Culligan and Kinetico systems seem "in line" to you or should I go back to them with some negotiating on the price?

I very much appreciate your feedback and I'll love to see ALL the points addressed in the reply of this email. if any further info is needed just let me know...I'll be checking back on this website at least once a day till I make the decision.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: help! water softener and ro system for my home

I'm not too interested in the sizing of the unit as I'm confident I'd be able to determine that on my own and with the help of the company I'd buy the softener from.

Interesting, given your dilemma deciding which company to deal with and the nature of your questions. No need to list your information if you don't want sizing help.

Budgetwater is TERRIBLE at sizing softeners and Culligan provides very little training for their salespeople. You could get a good one though. Kinetico's people tend to be better trained.

My next conern is whether I even need a Carbon filter? What exactly does a carbon filter do? I know it removes chlorine but what else? The Chlorine levels are not even high enough to mater....so what else do I benefit from having a Carbon filter?

You don't "need" a carbon filter. It will remove chlorine, VOCs and some metals. However, since you are on city water those other components shouldn't be an issue. If the chlorine doesn't bother you, don't bother with a carbon filter. Be aware that chlorine does have a damaging effect on softener resin. However this can be mitigated by purchasing a higher quality resin with 10% crosslinking. Not a problem.

If you do decided to use a carbon filter, it should be a separate piece of equipment from your softener, not internal to the softener. Carbon needs to be replaced periodically, much more frequently than softener resin. Separate pieces of equipment make this process much easier and cheaper.

my next conern is the reverse osmosis product I choose

Kinetico RO equipment is very good. Culligan's is fine as well. Since I don't know the brand/model of the one Budgewater suggested, I can't speak to that one specifically.

Aside from the warranties, I'm interested in why there is such a price difference between the Online retailer and Culligan/Kinetico..

Kinetico and Culligan, as well as other local dealers, are paying for a brick and mortar location that includes storage, offices and personnel. They are are also paying techs to make sales calls, install equipment and provide service after the sale. They stock parts for repairs. All of those things cost money. Online sellers, on the other hand, generally drop ship direct from the manufacturers, don't install, provide little to no service after the sale, don't stock parts and don't stock softeners.

Lastly I'm then interested in whether there is an alternative that you'd recommend as a RO system that is a better bang for your buck for the RO system.

I recommend that you purchase a quality RO that uses standard parts. This will make periodic filter replacement (every 6 months for pre/post filters and every 4 - 10 years for the RO) a relatively inexpensive DIY job. Watts makes some good models, but there are others out there. Both Kinetico and Culligan use proprietary parts for their RO systems. This means you would be married to them for filter replacement and parts will be more expensive.

This pretty much wraps up my questions for now. I want a good product that gets the jov done and done right...but I don't want to pay more than I have to. I want the best value for what I'm paying.

You likely have some other local, independent water treatment companies that can provide you a quote. You may want to give them a call.

Your questions are a bit on the 'basic' side. Given that, I advise you to find a local dealer you are comfortable with and avoid online dealers.

Last question, do the prices above for the Culligan and Kinetico systems seem "in line" to you or should I go back to them with some negotiating on the price?

The prices you were quotes are similar to what others get from the same companies. There is, however, almost always a little negotiating room with Kinetico and Culligan. It won't hurt to ask.

I very much appreciate your feedback and I'll love to see ALL the points addressed in the reply of this email

You might want to check your attitude at the door. We're all volunteering our time and expertise here.

This post was edited by aliceinwonderland_id on Wed, Apr 3, 13 at 14:16


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RE: help! water softener and ro system for my home

Alice,

While I appreciate your replies...they are a bit too simple and basic from what I was hoping to see. The questions are as simple as you make them.

I'd have to strongly disagree with you in regards to the idea that Culligan reps are not trained in regards to how to apply their units. That seems like an off the wall type of remark. With out that basic skill set their reps would more or less be useless...which is why I find it hard to believe.

I'd also like to ask you to perhaps check your attitude at the door as well. I have made no comments or offensive tones in my post - you on the other hand have shown a clear bad attitude. You may be offering your time, but if you choose to do so, I'm sure the owners of the site would like a clean and adult forum where people can communicate with each other in a cival manner. There is nothing wrong with me politely asking that whomever happens to reply to my post...to please address all my questions. Trying to start some argument and insulting me over my extremely polite post is nothing short of trolling.

I'd kindly like to ask if someone else could address my post with a little more information and some answers to my questions that are not so basic.

I think it's a good lesson for you to know that you cannot hear peoples "attitudes" or "tones" via a post or an email. I've seen far too many people get mad at others in a professional setting for something in an email that was never intended to be negative.

"Be slow to speak and quick to listen"


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RE: help! water softener and ro system for my home

Again everyone, keep the objective in mind here...to go with Culligan or Kenetico or something else for a softener and RO system? What might determine the decision? Your knowledge overall...maintance, service calls, and longevity of the product itself. If you can add to that then great!

My concern with the online water softeners is more or less to simply confirm with you (people with more experience and knowledge about softeners) that those types of softeners are a "get what you pay for" type of softener.


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RE: help! water softener and ro system for my home

As an update, with my further research I've concluded that the Kinetico is actually not as efficient as Culligan's lowest end model. So now it really just comes down to which unit will last the longest and have the least service throughout it's life span. Does anyone have any input to that regard?

Because of my further research as well...I am contemplating looking at some independant dealers that piece together their own water softeners. I'm not sure how sold I am on warranties because after all...that's a money making scheme to begin with.

At first I concluded that the size of the tank does not really matter to me that much so long as it regens at least once every 7-9 days. In all honesty, from what I've found, the salt savings and water savings from a system that regens every 3 days for instance is hardly any worse than one that regens every 7-9 days. The efficiency in that respect is mute.

Now a point that I am interested in though is the wear and tear that a unit endures if it does regen more often. Will my softener's components and unit last substantially longer if it regens half as much?

Does anyone have any opinion on this?


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RE: help! water softener and ro system for my home

All things being equal...

1. Resin that is regenerated more frequently will have a shorter service life.

2. Control valves that are cycled more often will have a shorter service life than control valves that are cycled less frequently. My experience has shown that industry standard hardware and Kinetico will give reliable service longer than Culligan hardware but that's only part of the reality. One must consider whether they want to be married to a company with proprietary hardware and whether they can get tech literature and parts at all or at modest cost.

3. A specific volume of resin regenerated with a specific salt dose will have the same hardness removal capacity and the same regeneration and backwash requirements to achieve that hardness removal capacity when depleted regardless of the brand name on the softener. In other words... 1 cu ft of resin @ 6 lbs of salt will remove the same amount of hardness and have the same regeneration requirements when depleted whether it says Kinetico, Culligan or nothing on the resin tank.

4. Whether to remove antibacterials whole house or not is often debated. In my opinion and experience I wouldn't and don't.

Please let us know what you decide and how it works out for you.

This post was edited by justalurker on Thu, Apr 4, 13 at 0:29


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RE: help! water softener and ro system for my home

Thanks Just,

I've seen a lot of your posts in my blog reading and I was hoping to hear from you. At this point I was leaning towards either the Culligan medalist or Culligan Medalist Plus series. The difference being in how often my system regens. It's $400 more for the Plus series. In your opinion, would you fork up the extra $400? The Plus series would regen likely around every 8.5 days with the medalist regen every 5.3 days. It's hard to say what my water consumption of water softener usage will actually be since the numbers I currently have include the outdoor watering figures.

You comment about being married to Culligan does have me questioning my decision however. I like the idea of being able to shop around for my own parts at good prices. I'm not really sure what to do about that.

If I find an independent company that sells softeners, what components would you tell me to make sure that it had? Does it really just all come down to the size whether it's metered demand, and the valve type?


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RE: help! water softener and ro system for my home

Hey Just,

I just came across a company (http://www.cincinnatiwatersofteners.com/water-softeners/) based of Cincinnati here that sells one softener and one softener only but they say it works great and they hardly ever have any service calls. Their unit has a Fleck Valve and is a 48,000 grain model...larger than I need but they are selling it for $599 with $300 for the install. They say that a competitor of theirs (Ohio Valley Resources) sells this same softener for around $1,200. So I'm inclined to believe I'm getting a good deal here. I have asked him for the specifics on the Valve model but no word yet. Are there any other questions I should ask?

He said that it only comes with a 1 yr parts and labor warranty...but again he hardly ever services them. Have you experience the same issue? That the warranty's are hardly used to begin with and are just a way to inflate the prices of softeners?

What's your take on this? Would I likely be ok without any warranty?


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RE: help! water softener and ro system for my home

Many Culligan dealersrefuse to sell parts to end users and tech literature is guarded religiously. Culligan has contracts with various OEMs to build them custom versions of parts that use proprietary parts. So. be forewarned that choosing Culligan will lock you to your local Culligan dealer and whatever they choose to charge you and whatever level of after the sale service they choose to provide. I'd only own Culligan if the only other choice was the junk that Sears, HD, WalMart, and Lowes peddles.

Many Kinetico dealers refuse to sell parts to end users and tech literature is guarded religiously. Kinetico has built up a large and loyal customer base and their products are expensive. That says something either about the quality and reliability of Kinetico products or consumer apathy... you decide.

"Does it really just all come down to the size whether it's metered demand, and the valve type?"

Water treatment is physics, chemistry, and mechanics regardless of the brand of the equipment. It is the application of those disciplines and the level of quality, reliability, and ease of service of the product that determines service life and frequency of repairs and operational efficiency.

When I was young I asked the local old timer car guru "what's the best car?" He replied "I'd rather have a junker I can get parts for than the coolest car around that I can't get fixed". The more things change the more they stay the same.

As with everything there is high quality, marginal quality, and poor quality. Making the right choice is based on knowledge and experience... you lack both. You come here to challenge those who know the subject with what you've stumbled across in your research(?).

In your original post you didn't mention the # of bathrooms or the plumbing SFR or if you have any water hogging appliances. All factor into the correct sizing of a softener. Based on the limited info you provided... 4 people and 21 gpg hardness a 1.5 cube softener is smaller than required even at the maximum (grossly inefficient) salt dose getting you 45k hardness removal capacity..

Which control valve... which brand of resin tank... which resin, what crosslink spec, which top and bottom basket... which brine pickup... which brine tank... what tubing... air gap on the drain or not... how to set it up for what conditions and efficiency. There are amazingly few people selling softeners that posses that knowledge and far fewer on forums on the web. Those who come and ask us to share what we know for free and on our own time generally get it when they ask rather than demand or expect it.

Anyone who sells one softener and only one softener and only one size and says that it works everywhere is either stupid or ignorant or his name is P.T. Barnum.

As I said before... please let us know what you decide and how it works out for you.

This post was edited by justalurker on Thu, Apr 4, 13 at 13:22


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RE: help! water softener and ro system for my home

Hey Just,

First, I guess I need to point out again that I'm not demanding anyone to reply to my posts or being disrespectful in anyway...I'm not asking any one particular person to reply to my questions...this is the world wide web and anyone and everyone with a computer has access to this website to answer any various questions. I thank each person that replies to my posts...so aside from that I don't understand where this animosity is coming from with you and the previous poster. (And I have not challenged people's professional opinions on any softeners).

With that said, it's clear that I will never fully understand the full intricacies of a water softener...and I don't want to as it isn't my job to know those things...but I can understand the basics...which is going to be the most important parts as far as getting a great product that will save me money. I'm not likely going to pick the very best of the best softener that I possibly can for the best value/price...but I can hopefully be ahead of the curve. Point being, I don't think I will end up buying a softener that comes with the very best components all throughout...but what I do want is a reputable company/softener that will sell a great softener...for the most part.

It that means one plumber that sells the same softener over and over, then so be it...because in the end, an oversized tank for my home really won't likely matter much besides saving me salt and water usage, and when the cost of that unit is only $599 it's even more attractive (Yes I know there are exceptions but I mean for the majority).

I do lack experience, but not knowledge. I don't have as much knowledge as most on this forum that post regularly, but I do have knowledge. Online is a very great resource for research and it doesn't require "stumbling across it", it requires "seeking it out". For instance, I've probably read 50 blog posts that you've post in the past 5 years on various websites just in the past few days...was all the info you've posted worthless? I don't think so...I'd like to think I've gained some knowledge, and I think you'd agree otherwise why post it?

Respect is a two way street...so far I feel as though I've been disrespected by you and the previous poster for no good reason and it's not appreciated. Your advice is appreciated, but it would be nice to receive some friendly advice and not condescending advice.

With that I will ask this question. Feel free to answer or to not answer...but if you choose to do so I simply would like some common decency. Is that so much to ask?

To whom it concerns,

I am interested in what your recommendation is for a water softener that is the best "bang for it's buck", that will regen on average around 7-8 days (4,500 grains per day).

My next question is whether, in your professional opinion, that softener warranties are "not that important" and that you likely will not service your unit much within 1-10 years anyways? Would you get a warranty?


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RE: help! water softener and ro system for my home

Also, to whom may reply to this, would you also recommend the Watts RO systems? they are very inexpensive so I am wanting to make sure those are comparable to the quality the Culligan RO systems.


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RE: help! water softener and ro system for my home

1. If you know exactly what you need and have the expertise to install and program it, you can shop based purely on price.

OR

2. You find a company that has the expertise and trust them to provide you with what you need and pay them handsomely for their expertise.

OR

3. You can ask for assistance evaluating specs and bids to navigate somewhere in between options 1 and 2.

OR

4. You can guess and hope

Water treatment comes down to many factors, including:


  • Water analysis: hardness, pH, TDS, iron, manganese, alkalinity, sulfides, nitrates, bacteria, particulates, other local issues

  • Water usage

  • Number of people in the home

  • Number of water fixtures in the home

  • Presence of high-water-use fixtures

  • Desired treatment outcome in terms of odor, taste, feel and analysis

  • Space considerations

  • Homeowner technical and mechanical ability

  • Homeowner physical constraints

No one, no matter how much expertise they have, can tell you whether or not a softener from a particular company is a good deal or not without knowing your particulars, along with the softener specs. If a softener won't work for your situation, even if they paid you to take it, it wouldn't be a good deal.


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RE: help! water softener and ro system for my home

Hey Alice, thank you for your reply. I hope that we can put whatever it was between us behind us. Again, I don't ever mean to disrespect anyone and I always thank everyone for their feedback.

I understand your concern in regards to those questions...so I guess it would be best for me to address those. First I'm not sure whether I want to install it myself or not. I'm sure I could manage to...but it would require some time and there's always the chance of doing it wrong which not help anyone.

•Water analysis: hardness, pH, TDS, iron, manganese, alkalinity, sulfides, nitrates, bacteria, particulates, other local issues

I gave the hardness, and all the other issues are a non issue.

•Water usage

250 gallons per day (that's the high end)

•Number of people in the home

...4

•Number of water fixtures in the home

This is where my lack of expertise comes in...I'm not sure how the number of fixtures comes into play...I thought it's just all about the volume or water the softener can handle? (RO unit is only for the kitchen)

•Presence of high-water-use fixtures
None

•Desired treatment outcome in terms of odor, taste, feel and analysis
It's city water so we currently don't have an odor unless a softener would somehow create an odor...but we intend to use a RO system to remove things to provide a clean tasting water. I don't care about the feel much.

•Space considerations

Plenty of space for any kind of unit...except a very large RO unit that would not fit under a sink.

•Homeowner technical and mechanical ability

Up in the air with this one...but I'm leaning towards having someone else install it. So with what being said I'm not sure whether to go with Culligan or an Independent one that you recommend (an RO system) while having someone else install it. This brings up the important of warranties...are they really that valuable?

•Homeowner physical constraints
None


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RE: help! water softener and ro system for my home

In your original post you didn't mention the # of bathrooms or the plumbing SFR or if you have any water hogging appliances. All factor into the correct sizing of a softener. Based on the limited info you provided... 4 people and 21 gpg hardness a 1.5 cube softener is smaller than required even at the maximum (grossly inefficient) salt dose getting you 45k hardness removal capacity.

There have been problems with pacific rim sourced filter canister breaking and flooding kitchens so I'd only consider an RO assembled in the US of ONLY US sourced components especially the filter canisters.

The Kinetico K5 is the slickest RO out there. Really flexible in application and the WOW instead of air/bladder tanks is a GREAT feature.

Quality RO made in US are around $500 and operate on long established principles and are reliable.

ROs under $300 are almost always Chinese in origin and have lower quality and less QC. They definitely work but they don't work indefinitely.

Watts Ro unit s are no better or worse than all the other low quality ROs.

You're looking a too small a softener with the cheapest RO you can find. It seems that low cost is the driving force in your decision so let me say this and go...

The bitterness of poor quality liners long after the sweetness of low price is gone.


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RE: help! water softener and ro system for my home

Hey Alice, thank you for your reply. I hope that we can put whatever it was between us behind us. Again, I don't ever mean to disrespect anyone and I always thank everyone for their feedback.

I understand your concern in regards to those questions...so I guess it would be best for me to address those. First I'm not sure whether I want to install it myself or not. I'm sure I could manage to...but it would require some time and there's always the chance of doing it wrong which not help anyone.

•Water analysis: hardness, pH, TDS, iron, manganese, alkalinity, sulfides, nitrates, bacteria, particulates, other local issues

I gave the hardness, and all the other issues are a non issue.

•Water usage

250 gallons per day (that's the high end)

•Number of people in the home

...4

•Number of water fixtures in the home

This is where my lack of expertise comes in...I'm not sure how the number of fixtures comes into play...I thought it's just all about the volume or water the softener can handle? (RO unit is only for the kitchen)

•Presence of high-water-use fixtures
None

•Desired treatment outcome in terms of odor, taste, feel and analysis
It's city water so we currently don't have an odor unless a softener would somehow create an odor...but we intend to use a RO system to remove things to provide a clean tasting water. I don't care about the feel much.

•Space considerations

Plenty of space for any kind of unit...except a very large RO unit that would not fit under a sink.

•Homeowner technical and mechanical ability

Up in the air with this one...but I'm leaning towards having someone else install it. So with what being said I'm not sure whether to go with Culligan or an Independent one that you recommend (an RO system) while having someone else install it. This brings up the important of warranties...are they really that valuable?

•Homeowner physical constraints
None


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RE: help! water softener and ro system for my home

Hey Just,

Thank you for replying. I do appreciate your input and I quickly just say this...I am the kind of person that like to invest in a product that saves me in the long run...even if that means paying more. For this reason I have already decided to purchased the higher priced RO system. What I did want to do was have the decision confirmed by people replying in this blog. I agree, I've concluded that the K5 is the best unit out there, but it might just be a luxury than a need in my case. Culligan offers the $699 price tag for their lower quality version. I guess what I want to do is make sure I don't but the Culligan $699 price tag unit if there is another unit on the market that is lessor priced that you feel is just as good.

Price for me does come into play, but it's more about the value. For instance, is it worth paying $600 more to get the K5 RO system? I don't use a ton of drinking water so I'd say no, but what would others say?

The Culligan unit recommended to me was actually a max capacity regen of 18,300 using 4 pound of salt...in which case I'd regen just about every 3-4 days. Are you saying this tank is drastically too small? I tended to think so, so I was going to go with the Plus series with a 28,900 regen using 6 pounds of salt where I'd regen say every 7 days for instance. that seems about in line with the norm...once a week. Would you agree?


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RE: help! water softener and ro system for my home

No, and you're missing on your arithmetic. It'd be better for us and you if you were the kind of person who knows what they don't know and would listen...

4 people @ 21 gpg averages about 5k grains hardness removal per day. That's 40k hardness removal with regeneration every 7 days with a 1 day reserve. Don't forget to add in the reserve with a single resin tank softener while that is not needed with a twin resin tank softener like a Kinetico.

Resin volume and resin tank volume effect SFR. If the SFR demands of your plumbing and fixtures exceeds the SFR of the resin volume then hardness will leak through. If you're paying for soft water then you ought to get soft water all the time.

Either of those Culligans are TOO SMALL

I won't recommend a specific size softener or how to program it because I don't want to get into a 50 post thread and an argument.

The Kinetico K5 is worth the money cause the water it produces will be what you drink, cook with, and ice cube. It has the flexibility to use various filters that address problems you may encounter in the future or may not.

In the LONG run you will be better off calling Kinetico and getting a softener and a K5. Pay what it costs and amortize that cost over a minimum of a decade of reliable service with a great warranty administered by well trained techs.

Turn your attention another project and just enjoy soft water and longer fixture and appliance life.


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RE: help! water softener and ro system for my home

Hey Just,

How'd I know you'd eventually point out my various different math calculations?

Let me know just explain that the calculation is an educated guess, both by you and I and there's no good way to predict it...the current data I have tells me that I use 236 gallons on average per year. During the months that I do not use the outdoor hoses though, I use 183 gallons per day. I will in fact be bypassing the outdoor hoses so I'd be inclined to say that on average I will use 183/gallons per day. I also have two children that will likely use more water as they grow older and are no longer taking baths together. What number do I use? Well who the heck knows. I've been throwing out numbers in my calculations in using various numbers. I am going to use the 20 hardness as my basis though, along with a daily usage of 200/gallons.

That's 4000/grains removal per day. The Culligan medalist Plus model set to it's most efficient salt usage setting, will regenerate using 6 pounds of salt for 28,900/grains. (Not really referring to the max grains it could regenerate, just what it actually does in real operation in it's most efficient setting).

28,900/4000 = 7.225 days...roughly once a week to regenerate. Is this not accurate? Do you think this is regenerating too often? What is wrong with my math?

I'll make sure to ensure that the resin can handle our water flow rates....but I highly doubt that will ever be an issue for us. None the less I'll make sure.

I understand that you prefer the K5, but you're just not giving any reasons why it's worth the extra $600. Why is it better than the Culligan for $699? Again, I do understand that you can add filters for any special needs down the line, but we both know that's unlikely to be needed down the line. Sure it's more versatile but again, is it worth the increase in price.

In the end I'm just having a real difficult time trying to find some solid advice on a softener and a RO system. I agree the K5 and Kinetico is great but again the price hikes are a little much for me. I don't see the added value.

I am still looking for some recommendations here...again, I do thank you for your replies, but please understand, I most assuredly do know what I don't know and what I do know.


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RE: help! water softener and ro system for my home

I tend to agree with Lurker's assessment, so it is perhaps against my better judgement that I will give this one final try. To be perfectly blunt, despite your assurances that you are aware of what you don't know, you continue to make statements that indicate otherwise. Your two days of reading on the internet notwithstanding, you are making poor assumptions that are leading you to incorrect conclusions. I'm starting to feel like I'm in a Holiday Inn Express commercial.

If you want assistance ensuring you end up with a correctly sized softener, the following list is important.


  1. Number of people in your home: 4. However, since two of those are so small, they are currently using no more water than they would if it were one older child. Rather than use 50 gpd per person, 60 will give you a much better picture of what your water usage will look like in a much shorter period of time than you think. Yes, my 60 gallons is an assumption, as is your 50 gallons. The difference is, my assumption comes from years of experience.
  2. Hardness. You stated 19-21, then arbitrarily chose to use 20 for your calculations. If your city reports 19-21, you need to set your hardness at 21. If you set it at 20, you will have hard water toward the end of any cycle where the city water is actually 21. Therefore, we size the softener for 21. While the 1 gpg difference is minor compared to water usage, it still adds up.

  3. Iron(Fe) and manganese(Mn). You mentioned the "no iron." Is this based on analysis or just that you have no staining? Here's why it is so important:
    1 gpg = 17.1 ppm.
    1 ppm Fe = 5 gpg hardness for sizing purposes
    1 ppm Mn = 2 ppm iron for sizing purposes
    Put another way, 1 ppm Fe = 85.5 ppm hardness and 1 ppm Mn = 171 ppm hardness
    Tiny amounts can make a HUGE difference in softener size.
    ADDITIONALLY: The presence of iron and/or manganese requires higher salt dosages during regeneration.

  4. pH: You say it's fine, but didn't provide a number. It may be fine for safety purposes and still not be okay for a softener. Too low or too high can lead to resin damage. Too high leads to hardness leakage. These potential problems can be remedied, but not without actual numbers.

  5. # of bathrooms/fixtures: I asked before, but instead of answering you said you didn't know why it mattered. Hardness capacity is only one of the things we look at when properly sizing a softener for a home. If hardness capacity indicated a 0.75 cubic ft softener for a mansion, it would be negligent to install such a small softener. We also have to look at how many fixtures may be in use concurrently to determine if the softener can handle the flow. Failure to do so would result in hardness leakage at best. Lack of pressure/flow to the home, channeling, resin damage, and Mom's shower turning into a drip if someone runs water in the kitchen are other potential issues.

Kinetico RO -- There are several reasons for the premium price. Whether those reasons are worth a $600 premium for you - only you can decide that.:


  • All around better build quality with better components throughout.
  • Exclusivity: They are the only ones that have the WOW tank that uses water pressure rather than an air bladder - it's a good design.
  • Education: Kinetico spends more time, effort and money ensuring their technical folks are educated. Their overhead costs are higher as a consequence.
  • Reputation: The Kinetico name has long been associated with quality and reliability - they charge higher prices because they can.


Softener mechanical reliability: Provided you purchase a Fleck-based, Clack-based, or Kinetico system, and keep up with maintenance, you can reasonably expect 10-20 years equipment life. The reason for the 10-year span is that conditions in each location are be so different - humidity, temperature, dust, water chemistry, etc. Most electronic equipment will fail within the first year if there is a manufacturing problem. As to the mechanical side, the value of a warranty is based entirely on your ability to make minor repairs, along with your time constraints. For me, a longer warranty is not worth extra money because I am capable of diagnosing and repairing the equipment. For you, a longer warranty may have some value - your choice.


With the exception of Kinetico, there are certain items any softener you order should have:


  • High quality American or German made resin. This will provide a tight size distribution for optimal flow within the resin bed.
  • When you have CITY WATER: 10% crosslinked resin. The oxidizers that city water treatment plants use, such as chlorine or chloramine, are harmful to softener resins. Higher crosslinking will resist chemical attack longer.
  • Top basket. This serves two purposes. It sets up a proper water distribution during normal operation and prevents resin loss during backwash.
  • Gravel underbed. The gravel underbed is there to set up proper flow patterns, improve backwash and prevent channeling. Many softener sales companies like to leave this out or sell softeners with a vortex system instead. Vortex systems weigh less than gravel so they cost less to ship. In addition, they are a more expensive item that adds profit for the softener salesperson, but provides no additional benefit to the homeowner. It simply adds another piece of equipment that can break.
  • Fleck or Clack valves. These set the industry standard. Be aware that you will not be able to purchase Clack valves online. This is not a problem if you purchase locally.
  • Noryl bypass. Most softeners are available with either Noryl or stainless bypass valves. Both are good valves, but the noryl tends to be more reliable when not used for long periods of time.
  • Install the softener with a three-valve bypass. This will make it so much easier if you ever need to remove the softener for repairs or wish to take it with you when you move. Preferably, use full-port, quarter-turn valves.


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RE: help! water softener and ro system for my home

1. Ok, I understand your points. The calculations were just a basis to start for me - I'm really more worried about how often the system regens. If I were to use 240 gallons (over estimate per day, using 22 hardness (to be safe), that's 5,280 grains per day with a regen every 5.47 days...with the liklihood of me regening every 6-7 days even when my children are adults. You think regening every 5.5 days is "just fine" or would you go a step higher? My concern is that unit will not last as long when it must regenerate so often. Is there a certain amount of days that you prefer/recommend for regenerations?

2. The results such as no iron is based on testing, by myself, by Culligan, and by Kinetico.

3. The PH was 7.0 by myself and Culligan. I'd have to ask the Kinetico rep but I'd assume it's the same as ours.

4. There is one washer, one dishwasher, 2.5 bathrooms, 1 sink in the fridge. 5 sinks in the bathrooms all together. The max amount of water usage at a given time would be using the dish washer, clothes washer, and someone taking a shower/bath along with one faucet running for someone to wash their hands for instance. This would be the max flow of the home. We have a High efficienct washer and dish washer. I'm not sure of how fast water flows through the shower heads. If you feel this is something to be concerned with I'd surely be willing to listen. However the reason I wasn't really concerned was because I'm not too afraid of the hard water breaking through in these very rare instances where it might occur. If it only hapenned once a year for instance, would it realy be a cause for concern? You know much more than I do when it comes to how much these appliances use when operating...do you think I'd have an ongoing and reoccuring issue if I used the Culligan Metalist plus series? I don't have that flow maximum in front of me, I apoligize.

Everything I hear about the K5 unit makes me want to buy it, which who knows, maybe I will but I don't know. I don't have the cash on hand to pay for it and I' at the time in my life where I want to avoid finanacing options that will give me added debt.

Regardless of the softener I choose I will make sure to have the 10% crosslinked resin installed to improve the longevitiy of the resin. I'll have to do my due diligence on some of the other things you mentioned.

In the end, I agree with you in regards to the warranties. In the end it's a money making part of the sale. I've purchased far too many warranties just to never use them. In the end, I feel as though you can typically get away without a warranty. For that reason it is not a huge concern to me any longer so thank you for that.

I have ruled out the 4040 Kinetico and 2040 Kinetico units but I may think about the K5 unit. For the softener I am leaning towards either a local company or Culligan. That one I mention earlier where hat guy only sold one type of softener (I know it kind of is a joke), but he said the valve was a fleck, and that he hardly receives service calls for them. He seemed very genuine and sometimes you go with your gut. He has me thinking about it...his was $599 plus $300 for the install. I'm debating having that installed and then having either Culligan or Kinetico install the RO system.

What I'll do is contact the person selling this Fleck valve softener and mention all the specs that you recommended the unit having. I'll see what he has to say.

At this point though I can tell that the Culligan is priced due to the added services they provide in addition to the warranties. There price has some merit.


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RE: help! water softener and ro system for my home

Your guy that only sells one softener is most likely using the 5600 Econominder because that's what he learned on many years ago. Not as flexible in programming as an SXT would be. Might even be a timer based 5600 who knows?

Some times you can't teach an old dog new tricks and some times you can't teach an old dog any tricks at all.

I know better... I really do, but... get a 2 cube softener and use a Fleck 7000SXT or Clack WS1 and go 7 days between regenerations. The resin and the control valve will last longer and you'll have sufficient SFR.


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RE: help! water softener and ro system for my home

Hey Just,

I agree with you completely - he actually even told me he'd been installing these types for over 20 years...the same thing virtually! That was a red flag to me among other things. I think I just wanted to believe what he was saying.

I'll piece together what you and AIW said in the past two posts and see what I can figure out. Right now I'm checking out softeners from this website - http://www.ohiopurewater.com/shop/customer/home.php?cat=173

Not sure what to think of them yet, still deciding.


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RE: help! water softener and ro system for my home

C.K. Moore is a nice old dawg but he's pretty set in his ways. OPWC will not want to supply a gravel underbed. There's a poster around who was told that they'd supply gravel for $20 but there would be no returns of the softener for any reason. Not sure if they meant no warranty also.

The difference between a 1.5 cube and a 2.0 cube softener at time of purchase is negligible (about $50), but buying too small will cost you money every day of the softener's operation and more at the end of it's shorter service life. And before you ask you don't want a 5600 on a 12" tank you want a 7000SXT or a Clack WS1.

Honestly though, you'll be happier with Kinetico and the higher cost will even out over time. Kinetico does offer rentals and rent to own. Something to think about cause there are usually deals to be had when buying a softener and an RO from them.

To warranty importance... buy a generic industry standard softener from an online seller and if the control valve pukes are you prepared to buy a replacement valve for $300-$400 dollars and wait with no soft water for it to arrive from wherever the drop shipping warehouse is or ship your valve back to the seller for repair at your expense and wait till it returns and effect the repair yourself and hope the valve works? Or call the Kinetico dealer and the tech shows up and makes the repair with parts on the truck under warranty at no charge.

You have now received the best advice you could get anywhere in this thread and you'll either do what people who know far more than you about this recommend or you won't and that's fine with me cause my softener works perfect. Frankly we who know water treatment know you better than you think we do cause we deal with you everyday everywhere there's a keyboard and a search engine.


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RE: help! water softener and ro system for my home

Kinetico offered me a 2040 with K5 for a total of $3,355 that includes installation and tax. Thoughts? Also I agree with you...you see these questions all the time and know what people are fishing for and what answers they are looking for. It's a hard decision though and it does come down to price. Everyone is hesitant to beleive what anyone has to say but don't take that as an insult, for me it's just being devils advocate so I can try to make sure I don'f fudge up this purchase.


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RE: help! water softener and ro system for my home

First off, no one here has a dog in this fight and no one gets anything for taking the time to try to help other than trying to help and aching fingers.

Second, "you see these questions all the time and know what people are fishing for and what answers they are looking for". Problem is they usually want to be told what they want to hear and that rarely coincides with the reality of their circumstances so it gets annoying.

Let's see... $3355 for a 2040 with K5 installed with tax and a 10 year warranty ... about $.92 per day over a 10 year span and $.62 per day over a 15 year span.. That's less than the cost of 2 gallons of RO water from the Culligan machine at Wal-Mart and you don't have to go to Wal-Mart to get them and lug them home every damn day.

Or you can continue along the path you've been on and maybe get what you should have and maybe set it up correctly... or maybe not.

Thoughts?


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RE: help! water softener and ro system for my home

The $3,355 is a really good price from my understanding. I see what you're saying but I can also get the Culligan Medalist Plus softener and RO system for $2,549.61.

Hmm, that's not much of a difference in price now. Now I'm starting to lean towards that 2040 Kinetico model when compared to the Culligan. Plus the k5 as you say is so much better, than I'd probably like the 2040 better as a package. Maybe I'll ask him if he can do a further price reduction too...who knows.

I have one last question for you Just...and you've been a huge help. I can tell that you know your stuff and you are very knowledgable in the water treatment business. Don't think for one moment that I don't respect and hold what you say to high regard.

My last question is whether you can recommend an online retailer that supplies a Fleck valve softener to your specifications that you think I should install for my home? One that comes with a good mixture of good pricing and decent warranties (if there are any that is). One that hits all or most of the bullet points of what you recommend I have.

Thanks in advance for your time in answering all these questions. I'm really at the final moments of making a decision. I think in the end you'll probably be please with my decision in that it was in the direction that you recommended.


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RE: help! water softener and ro system for my home

The 2040 Kinetico would regen "roughly" once per day for my home...do I have that right...or is it once every two days?

The Kinetico rep it would regen once every two days but I feel like it's once a day based on the specs...


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RE: help! water softener and ro system for my home

"The $3,355 is a really good price from my understanding. I see what you're saying but I can also get the Culligan Medalist Plus softener and RO system for $2,549.61"

You get what you pay for.

Buying online there is no service by definition.

Every online seller I've experienced never sees anything that is shipped to you. They all order sub assemblies drop shipped from regional warehouses.

Online sellers are concerned with one thing and one thing only... profit margin. They rarely know of or offer a selection of the better quality and, in their mind, less important options. They'll all offer the same Fleck 7000SXT but not necessarily the higher quality Fleck top and bottom baskets when the pacific rim versions are 10% of the cost. They'll supply Structural (Pentair) brand resin tanks but sometimes you have to ask. Clack brine tanks are top shelf but you'll usually get one from an anonymous manufacturer. Almost everyone is using the Fleck 2310 safety float brine pickup now and that's a good thing. Resin is another thing though. Quality US resin is expensive so you usually get anonymous or Nelsen imported brand resin with no pedigree versus the Purolite or Sybron or Dow brands that we'd get a few years back.

If I were to build a softener for myself today it'd take a lot of research to find an online seller that would/could supply me with exactly the components I'd want for my softener and I know exactly what components I'm looking for where the average person won't.

I've come to the conclusion that if I was going to replace my softener I might just find a used Kinetico and rebuild it myself cause I know how and can get parts.

My current softener will probably last another 20 years but I won't so it's academic at this point.

There is no way I'd ever have a Culligan softener in my home.


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RE: help! water softener and ro system for my home

Ask the Kinetico rep that question and get a specific answer but remember... the Kinetico is designed for those regeneration cycles and is very frugal with water and salt.

The Kinetico also regenerates as required and you're never without soft water... an advantage of twin resin tanks and you're saving on electricity.


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RE: help! water softener and ro system for my home

The Kinetico rep when I met with him told me it would cost me about $500 to rebuild a Kinetico unit back to working order...I contemplated just finding a used Kinetico and having him do that...problem is I definitely have had issues finding a used Kinetico. That might be the best of both worlds in all honesty...lower price and still getting the Kinetico.

Thanks again Just, I appreciate all you've given me. You remarks about Culligan will indeed effect my decision greatly.


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RE: help! water softener and ro system for my home

deleted

This post was edited by aliceinwonderland_id on Thu, Apr 4, 13 at 21:04


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RE: help! water softener and ro system for my home

Perhaps the lack of used Kineticos out there for sale is indicative of their long and reliable service... people who have them don't sell them and take them with when they move.


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RE: help! water softener and ro system for my home

Hey Lurker/Alice,

As an update, I am choosing to go with the Fleck 7000SXT 48,000 grain per your recommendation for an online softener. The savings I will enjoy immediately with the possible chance of savings in the long run as well is what led me to this choice. Thank you both for helping me reach this decision.

I have one final question for you both. I have been searching the web for a RO system. Now once I decided not to go with Culligan or Kinetico and to go the "less expensive route"...I decided to go that route with the RO system as well. The K5 unit is amazing but I can't afford the best of everything. And if I was going to buy a $800-900 Culligan RO system, I'd just say forget it and pony up the extra $200-300 for the K5.

So with all that said, I am looking at the Watts RO systems. Alice, you mentioned that these were pretty good...but then lurker you mentioned that anything below $400-$500 is not very good.

Obviously I'd like to believe that the $200-$250 Watts unit is a quality one that I can use for "my purposes"...which is to find a unit that has a decent life, and will produce good quality drinking water. What are your opinions on this company?

I am looking at the Watts units on this website:

http://www.caitechnologies.com/shopping/items.asp?ACTION=DISPLAY&Category=5

One has the easy twist off filters and the other does not...but they basically cost the same. Is one unit better than the order? Do filters tend to cost more for the easy to twist off kind? Do the easy to twist off filters not last as long or something?

I feel like there is a catch to these twist off filters...enlighten me if you wouldn't mind?

Thank you both for your replies!!!


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RE: help! water softener and ro system for my home

"Hey Lurker/Alice, As an update, I am choosing to go with the Fleck 7000SXT 48,000 grain per your recommendation for an online softener"

Hold on there Jim... I did not recommend a 48k softener so don't blame that on me.

AFAIK at this time Watts Premier ROs are made in China so buy one at your own risk. As for the quik-twist style ROs made by anyone... you better hope that the manufacturer continues to offer those proprietary filters and membranes cause they are NOT industry standard. If/when the manufacturer decides that there is no longer sufficient profit realized to continue manufacturing those special filters you are SOL.


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RE: help! water softener and ro system for my home

I know, I'm just afraid of getting a 64,000 grain softener. Currently the average grain usage would be 3,666 (this number will increase overtime). I certainly wouldn't blame you with a decision i end up making regardless. I assume I could just set the softener to regen every 7 days regardless of any abundance of soft water left for use? Is that the way to go you think?

Is there no Online RO unit you like thats around the $200-$400 price range?


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RE: help! water softener and ro system for my home

One of the main questions to be asked here is whether you want the system for the whole house, or just drinking and cooking water. If you are just looking for better, cleaner drinking and cooking water, then you need to go with reverse osmosis. This will soften your water without the added cost of a water softener, and remove everything potentially hazardous in your water. I have a reverse osmosis system from Aquasafe Systems and paid under $200 for an under the sink system for my drinking and cooking water and love the system. They have a couple of systems, but would suggest the Maximus II system as it has 6 stages to ensure alkaline water. Installation was very simple, and support was great when I did have a question. Also, the filters are inexpensive compared to most out there, but they do use the standard size filters if you choose to buy elsewhere. I opted to buy their combo package which also came with 3 year supply of filter changes, which cost more obviously, but was worth it in my opinion. Hope this helps.

Here is a link that might be useful: Aquasafe Systems


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RE: help! water softener and ro system for my home

MichaelsAd - I'm getting the impression that you work for the company you linked. Every post you have made on these forums exaggerates the virtues of RO in general and this one RO in particular, along with a link to the company.

Perhaps you are just really enthusiastic about your RO, but it seems a bit odd to me.


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RE: help! water softener and ro system for my home

Hey Alice/Lurker,

As an update here is what I ended up going with - my decision was largely based on your recommendations/data but I also used other people's professional opinions, other various blogs and websites I read, and lastly...my final opinion on who I should really believe and how much stake should be put into certain opinions. Se here it goes.

I went with the Fleck 5600SXT Meter On Demand 48,000 Grain softener. Given my situation, I felt that the 48,000 grain would regenerate roughly every 7-8 days...and closer to 5-6 days once my familiar has grown. I didn't want the 64,000 system that would start off regenerating every 17 days roughly. I heard various opinion with regards to the 5600 and 7000 valves...in the end, the consensus was that both were good. (and my pipes are 3/4s inch). So I just went with the 5600.

I got the 3/4 Inch Noryl Yoke & Bypass and the 10% crosslink resin. (imported). I ordered from CK Moore.

The total price came to $573.

With regards to the reverse osmosis system, this decision relied largely on my own research. In the end I chose a product that was called APEC (RO-45). The product uses high quality components made from mostly US parts. It is WQA Gold certified. It's a 5 stage RO unit that can use standard filters, uses a carbon block, and a FILMTEC membrane. In the end, the unit cost me $385 which includes shipping. This unit came with a free set of filters for 1 year and a free TDS tester. I also converted the lines to a larger output tube so that the water comes out of the unit faster in addition to adding an ice maker kit. (I ice maker kit was very reasonable for just $9). Lastly I upgraded to a stainless steel faucet. The RO unit on it's own costs roughly $350 after shipping/tax.

I received a bid to install both units for under $600 bring my purchase to a grand total of roughly $1,558. (Less possible). If I install the RO unit myself then I'm looking at a total cost of $1,333. Not bad.

I received quotes to install the softener at $375, $600, and $1,700. I had to add this because I can't believe this crazy company would charge me $1,700 to install a customer supplied softener. By the way, this company that came in with that crazy bid is directly in relation to the company that sells and services Kinetico softeners in my area. That turned me off some.

Anyways, I thought you two and anyone else would appreciate hearing back from me and my decision. I appreciate all the info you two provided me.


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RE: help! water softener and ro system for my home

PS: this whole RO unit selection process seems like a very difficult one. I could have gotten one for less money but I opted to pay just a little more for the APEC Ro-45. In the end I hope I didn't make the wrong or poor decision...


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RE: help! water softener and ro system for my home

APEC says "Built in the USA with High Performance Parts". That is built BUILT (assembled) in USA not built with parts manufactured in the USA. There is a difference between marketing and fact.

Hope you didn't use a saddle valve to install your RO. That's a leak waiting to happen.

Let us know how it all works out for you.


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RE: help! water softener and ro system for my home

I had asked that specific question to them in the online chat and they said that they are one of the few manufacturers whose materials and parts are mostly manufactured in the United States and certified by the FDA and NSF International. They also mentioned that all of the critical components are USA made. I have no idea what parts are "critical components" so hopefully I don't get "had" here. I'll let you know how it goes after a couple months of use. I'm not sure about the saddle valve...I have not received the unit via mail yet.


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RE: help! water softener and ro system for my home

"I had asked that specific question to them in the online chat and they said that they are one of the few manufacturers whose materials and parts are mostly manufactured in the United States..."

Mostly... really? What you are told is sales talk. What they put on their web site is what they can be held to in court.

""certified by the FDA and NSF International " means that the assembly does it's job and is not reflective of the quality of the part or quality control.

"I have no idea what parts are "critical components" How can you have asked so many questions on so many forums and gotten so many answers that you can say that?

The critical parts are the ones that must contain the water under line pressure... filter & membrane canisters, tubing, connectors, and the ASV to name a few.

If your RO comes with a saddle valve for the RO feed do not use it under any circumstances regardless of what you are told by anyone


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RE: help! water softener and ro system for my home

"I have no idea what parts are "critical components" How can you have asked so many questions on so many forums and gotten so many answers that you can say that?

...Because I'm not the one who said "all the """"critical"""" components are USA made".......

I'll ask this again but...do you then have a RO system that you recommend?

PS: Note though that the companies website does say that "All Systems are made with the highest quality performance parts." Maybe they're just making that up but hopefully not...but I'd think that statement would be helpful in court if they actually used crappy components.


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RE: help! water softener and ro system for my home

When I asked the APEC customer service they said that their RO units come with a drain saddle valve.


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RE: help! water softener and ro system for my home

I have to ask because I'm curious...what bad experience did you have with saddle valves?


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RE: help! water softener and ro system for my home

removed

This post was edited by Jlmurph2 on Fri, Apr 26, 13 at 10:11


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RE: help! water softener and ro system for my home

Wrong...it's this.

http://www.freedrinkingwater.com/prod/SADDLE-CARM.htm


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RE: help! water softener and ro system for my home

Alright no need to reply unless you have a RO unit you recommend...I'll be trying to either A) find a highly rated saddle valve that has a fantastic reputation or B) redoing the plumbing without the use of a saddle valve.

This post was edited by Jlmurph2 on Fri, Apr 26, 13 at 10:52


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RE: help! water softener and ro system for my home

B


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RE: help! water softener and ro system for my home

Lol. I hear ya. Thanks for pointing that one out to me - I haven't done as much research into RO units as I did the softeners. I guess I'll get an education on how to do some actual plumbing in the next couple weeks...

I'm bet the guy used a saddle valve in my basement when he installed my humidifier a year or so ago...I'll check that out.

This post was edited by Jlmurph2 on Fri, Apr 26, 13 at 11:03


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RE: help! water softener and ro system for my home

You only needed to Google "saddle valve problems"...

Softeners, ROs and ANY appliance that is hooked up to the water system at line pressure is equally capable of gifting you a multi thousand dollar water leak and a remodeling job you didn't want.


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RE: help! water softener and ro system for my home

Yeah I've already googled the issue with saddle valves...the consensus seems to be that it would likely "not" leak...but the likelihood still increases dramatically over regular plumbing.


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RE: help! water softener and ro system for my home

I just received a picture from APEC on what the feed connector looks like. It has a fitting the goes acts as an extension of the existing pipe...and then it has a small valve that screws on to that fitting with a shut off valve on it as well.

Sounds and looks different than a saddle valve.


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