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    Thread: What to use for soft water?

    1. 11-09-2011 10:07 AM #1
      I've used salt pellets for years. I know you can also use potassium chloride pellets.

      I noticed there is a Water softening pellets alternative. It's been around for years but I never tried it.

      http://www.mortonsalt.com/products/w...stemsaver.html

      Let's just talk about the same brand, Morton, so I'm sure it works, work great, and etc.

      However, it cost about 1/4 the cost. That should be good right?

      Does anyone know what it really is? It got to be a complex of formulas of chemicals to make it work better and cost less. I just don't want to add any more chemicals into our water system.

      What do you use for your water softener and why?

    2. Member kamzcab86's Avatar
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      11-09-2011 10:07 PM #2
      I used that salt for a few years until I was told that the larger pellets (which that stuff is) tend to form into a giant salt glump more than the smaller pellets/crystals (which they did; I had to clean out a giant, hardened glump from the bottom of the tank when I switched to the smaller stuff). I now use blue bag Morton: http://www.homedepot.com/Kitchen-Wat...atalogId=10053 .
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      11-10-2011 12:21 AM #3
      I normally use plain nuggets of whatever brand is cheap but have occasionally used a salt that has an iron removal feature for whatever luck it might bring. I will guess that Morton System Saver has a little Iron Out or similar included. The clumps can be managed by pouring no more than one 40 or 50 lb. bag of salt nuggets into your storage container. You can easily check it for clumps once in a while and can break them up with a good stick of wood or the end of a hammer handle. I quit using the somewhat impure small salt crystals after I found a bunch of gravel in the bottom of our salt supply tank. Possibly it's harmless but the nuggets don't cost much more.

      If your softener loses capacity you can buy new resin. It's not cheap but is cheaper than a new softener.

    4. Senior Member FlashRedGLS1.8T's Avatar
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      11-10-2011 07:37 AM #4
      Quote Originally Posted by GoLowDrew View Post
      What do you use for your water softener and why?



      Why? Because the water softener I installed had a pic of it on the lid and I can get it at my gas station.

      I've never tried any other brand or type out of fear of filling up my softener with a product that does not work and creates a month or two long issues with my water. Also the system saver salt has always worked fine and we've never dealt with salt bridge issues.

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      11-13-2011 07:06 AM #5
      Would a reverse osmosis system perform the same job as a softener or do you need both the RO system and a softener?

    6. 11-14-2011 11:29 AM #6
      New question.

      My older model (Sears) water softener Recharges every night at a set time. It's 7 years old.

      I was looking at some newer models, and it seems like one can set it to Recharge every 2-3 days or whenever. The owner's manual recommend 2-3 days.

      My question is, so it does not need to Recharge every night? Are the newer ones an improvement some how?

    7. 11-14-2011 01:14 PM #7
      Our water softener recharges every 12 days.

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      11-14-2011 01:30 PM #8
      Since we're adding on...

      If your house doesn't have a water softener loop, is there any benefit to just softening the hot water only?

    9. 11-14-2011 02:24 PM #9
      Quote Originally Posted by Veedubgti View Post
      Our water softener recharges every 12 days.
      Wow, really. So I've been overworking the system for years.

    10. 11-14-2011 02:29 PM #10
      Quote Originally Posted by kptaylor View Post
      Since we're adding on...

      If your house doesn't have a water softener loop, is there any benefit to just softening the hot water only?
      Yes, when you take a shower, run the dishwasher, laundry, and whenever you use hot water, it will be soft and soap up 10X better.

      When you are watering the plants in your backyard, you'll use cold, and therefore not soft AND no salt for your plants.

      If you are using warm, the water will mix and you'll get "semi-soft." Or you can over compensate the hot water to get the right balance.

      I have a loop so the entire house is soft. But I don't mind if it's only for the hot. The only negative is the ring on your toilet, since we flush with cold. Then again, it's a loosing battle for me with soft or hard water. I think the bowl surface is just damaged.

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      11-16-2011 07:48 AM #11
      Quote Originally Posted by Sizzla View Post
      Would a reverse osmosis system perform the same job as a softener or do you need both the RO system and a softener?
      An RO system does not condition/soften the water, so if you have hard water you would still need a water softener.

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      11-16-2011 07:42 PM #12
      Quote Originally Posted by FlashRedGLS1.8T View Post
      An RO system does not condition/soften the water, so if you have hard water you would still need a water softener.

    13. 11-16-2011 09:50 PM #13
      Ok, maybe I can be of some help here.

      First, an RO does soften water, just not in the quantity that a water softener does. The reverse osmosis system removes total dissolved solids (TDS) from the water. This can be a number of things depending upon the source of your water. Generally speaking, a RO system is comprised of a pre filter (to remove sand/silt), a carbon filter (to protect the membrane and remove chlorine), and then the RO membrane (which does the hard word of removing TDS in general). So yes, a RO will remove calcium and magnesium and soften the water that it processes, but it's limited to the drinking faucet. But if all you wanted was conditioned drinking water, yes you could use just an RO system for drinking.

      When it comes from water softener salt use the cheapest stuff you find. I would steer clear from pellets because of the increased price and the above stated reasons of failing to dissolve completely.

      The Sears softeners and other big box stores all use the same design in their water softeners. Should a softener need to regen every night? Probably not, but it does depend on home many people live in the home. Most softeners today use meters to limit the amount of times they regenerate. If you know how much water you use a day and your water hardness some simple math would tell you how often your water softener needs to regenerate.

      I'm a Culligan man, so I have a little experience in the business.

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      11-17-2011 07:09 AM #14
      Quote Originally Posted by lil mike View Post
      I'm a Culligan man, so I have a little experience in the business.
      I call BS...you didn't once tell anyone that they shouldn't be using their POS Sears water softener.
      Who are you really?



    15. 11-18-2011 12:14 AM #15
      Ya got me!

      Nah, soft water is soft water. I'm brand loyal, and I do think the Culligan product is a better product, but any softener will soften water.

      For the love of everything holy don't get me started on water "conditioners" though.

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      11-18-2011 10:36 PM #16
      As timing would have it, we just bought and installed a new water softener. Regarding salt, the instructions state: "Use solar salt crystals. If rock salt is used, clean brine tank every year and if pellet salt is used, salt mushing may occur."

      I called the company with some questions. I was told among other things that the softening media loses between 2 to 4% of its capacity every year.

      Our softener with a mechanical control uses a small turbine wheel in the water intake to measure volume. The softener control is set for the number of people in the house as well as the water hardness. I don't know how an electronic control could do better except make it unnecessary for you to determine your water hardness. If electronic can be better in some way, please post.


      Timers make little sense except for lack of a better automatic control. A timer can not adjust for varying water usage but may be better than manual control in the eyes of some.

    17. 11-19-2011 12:35 AM #17
      Tinker Toy, your instructions sound right. I'd still use rock salt and I also wouldn't worry about cleaning your brine tank once a year. Any salt produced for use in water softeners is dirty. It will make your brine tank dirty over the course of time, but not to the extent that you should need to clean it once a year. Water softeners, all brands, are much more efficient than what we had ten years ago. The salt usage is now limited by meters and such, and as a result the dirt going into the brine tank is also limited. If your brine tank starts smelling, which it will, I would just dup a half cup of bleach down the brine well to freshen things up. (Don't go crazy with the bleach as it can be harmful to the resin.) 2-4% might be a little high in lost capacity. Resin has come a long way, and in some of the Culligan units is covered for life of the unit. (There is a reason they feel comfortable giving that kind of warranty.)

      Along the line of the electricity vs mechanical front I will take a computer controlled softener any day of the week.

      The positives about a computer controlled softener:
      -Diagnostics
      -Efficiency
      -Intelligence in maintaining soft water
      -Intelligence in water changes*

      Diagnostics
      If you have a softener that is keeping track of when it cycles, and what it sees throughout that cycle, it becomes much easier to service. That applies to both a customer and serviceman. Sure the customer would have to read his manual, and assuming said customer is intelligent, he would be able to figure out many things about his softener without the help of a servicemen. (Don't get me started on engineers who think they know how everything works). Service certainly is there to be rendered when needed.

      Efficiency
      A water softener that is tracking water usage through a meter and coupled with the smarts of a computer would allow your softener to be more efficient. Example: A mechanical softener will regenerate every 1000 gallons. Perfect, every 1000 gallons of water used you will then be provided with another 1000 gallons of soft water. But if you softener is a single tank system, most Kinetico's aren't this way, you will be using hard water while the softener regenerates (downside). You also lose a little bit of capacity that could have been used (another downside). A computer enabled softener knows, on the other hand, that it needs to regenerate every 1000 gallons, but the installer would build in a reserve capacity (say 150 gallons, but depends on family size) and that would allow the user to use the softener for the rest of the day getting extra capacity per regen and also allowing the softener to regenerate at a time when water won't be used. This saves you the extra expense of having a twin tank system and increases your soft water capacity per regeneration. This is just one example of efficiency. There are other reasons for improved efficiency.

      Intelligence is a big selling point of Culligan softeners. A computerized softener will automatically adjust to water usage. You family may change over the years, but you will never have to change the settings on your water softener. You may have visitors and your water usage will spike, but your water softener will recognize such a spike and regenerate early to provide you with the capacity necessary with the increased water usage.

      All that can be had for a few dollars a year in electricity. In my market our HE water softener sales for about $800-1000 less than Kinectico's little unit. A good deal if you ask me. Yeah, Culligan softeners cost more that Sears' units and such, if you want an explanation for that I can provide that too.

      *Culligan Aqua Sensor
      The Aqua Sensor is always monitoring the water coming in and out of your softener. Leaky toilets are killers when it comes to a water softener's capacity. Meters just can flow that low of a rate usually. An Aqua Sensor will sense that your water softener's capacity has diminished and trigger a regeneration to keep you in soft water. That's just one example, it is also capable of adjusting for an increase or decrease in water hardness. Etc.

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      11-19-2011 08:20 PM #18
      Quote Originally Posted by GoLowDrew View Post
      My older model (Sears) water softener Recharges every night at a set time.


      Mine regenerates about once a month and it's about the same age, maybe a tad younger (although, not a Sears model). In fact, the "capacity timer" is down to 0 so it should be doing it tonight. My system regenerates based on usage: the more water used, the more often it will regenerate (it's obviously an electronic unit).
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      11-19-2011 09:35 PM #19
      Quote Originally Posted by lil mike View Post

      The positives about a computer controlled softener:
      -Diagnostics
      -Efficiency
      -Intelligence in maintaining soft water
      -Intelligence in water changes
      lil mike, thanks for your reply. One big reason that I wanted a mechanical control is pointed out as a feature in the literature that came with our new softener: "No expensive electronics to fail". I had a choice of softeners with electronic control but walked away from them. I have seen enough fairly expensive electronic stuff fail including a garage door opener past warranty, a flat screen TV past warranty, a car computer past warranty, a motorhome gas refrigerator with electronic control past warranty, a computer past warranty and could likely come up with more if I thought about it.

      I don't understand the need for diagnostics. If the water is hard when it should not be, will the diagnostic ability of a softener with electronic control tell you if you are out of salt, if the softening media is worn out, if you have a leaky toilet that, as you say, does not run water fast enough to run a measuring turbine? I can't understand from your explanation the uses for a diagnostic feature. We got 39 years from our last softener with one change of softening media with no apparent need for electronic diagnostic capability.

      Granted, an electronic control might be a bit more efficient with salt than a mechanical control. Water here is not expensive so water saving, if a feature, is not important.

      How is it possible that water from my well could have variable hardness?

    20. 11-20-2011 12:58 AM #20
      I absolutely understand about not wanting a computer board to fail. The only thing I would mention is warranties, and obviously those wear out. Off the top of my head any board produced in the last 8 years failures are extremely rare for us. The quality of electronics and reliability continues to improve. But, like you said, failure is always possible.

      The diagnostics feature, in my opinion, is actually very useful. Softeners can have various issues, and knowing when and for how long the softener has run in the recent past is a great way of identifying the problem. Can it tell you your media has expired? Not directly. But with the history you can go down the line of potential issues. Back to the issue of the running toilet. A toilet usually runs at less than a gallon a minute. (You would know about a running toilet being on your own well because you'd hear your pump kicking on, etc.) So let's imagine, I go to someone's house with the complaint of hard water. So I get to the house, see the softener is running like normal. Not too often, but not crazy long in between regens either. I can see, or be told, the softener is using salt like normal, but still no soft water. Well, I can go and check all that in the history which then allows me to find the reason the water softener is exhausting. Usual causes are: Running toilet(nothing to do with softener), torn internal seals on the softener, plugged flow restrictor, and etc. That whole same scenario can lead me straight back to the condition of the media if everything else checks out ok. So, yeah, I like to have a history.

      And where you're on your own well, water savings really doesn't apply. The city in which I live actually doesn't have water meters. (They are just being put in with new homes for now.) And the surrounding area most homes have their own wells. The other concern is not cost of water, but how much water you're putting into a septic system. The myth about a softener being harmful for your septic system is false. However, of course you don't want to dump gallons of unnecessary water in your septic system. (duh)

      Variable hardness is very common. As a rule of thumb I deal with 16 grain hard water in town (doesn't usually test higher than 16). As I go north is goes down to about 13. Same aquifer just different hardness. Spring and fall bring a change in the water table, what people are pumping in their private wells, and changes in hardness occur throughout the year. Change just happens. A change in hardness by four grains, depending on the size of your softener, can effect the capacity by 200-300 gallons or more. It certainly is possible changes in your area don't have such range, but I'm sure it fluctuates 1-3 grains.



      Oh, kamzcab86, I can't imagine you're getting soft water for that whole month.

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      11-20-2011 04:16 PM #21
      Quote Originally Posted by lil mike View Post
      Oh, kamzcab86, I can't imagine you're getting soft water for that whole month.
      Why? It's a small house and I live alone; the installers asked about water usage during installation and programmed the computer based on what I told them (avg. usage is 3000 gallons/month, with a low of 1000 gal./month when it rains a lot). System capacity starts at 676 (its microprocessor adjusts based on patterns of usage, so capacity varies); as water is used it gets down to 0. Between 50 and 0 the system regenerates. The more water is used (like it will be over the holidays), it regenerates more often. It also has a manual override as well as a calendar day override (if you're away for extended periods, it can be programmed to regenerate on a specific day despite zero water being used).
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    22. 11-20-2011 08:03 PM #22
      Well, I was just thinking. My bad. Again all depends on your softener size, salt dosage, and water usage. So, yeah, you're right. My bad.

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      02-18-2012 10:30 AM #23
      rather than a new thread.... i'll just tag on here.


      we live in a VERY heavy limestone area. we moved in about 4 years ago, and had issues with the softener that was in place - never seemed to work properly. i disconnected it, and have have been running sans any type of softener for this whole time period.

      i have no issues with the water hardness personally.... however, the lime scale is quite annoying on the dishes and appliances. we're in the market for a new dishwasher, but before that happens, we want to get a softener to clean up the water a bit. i had the water tested, and the big number that popped up, was that our hardness was at 24.

      i should add... we are on a well. 2 adults, 2 kids. the way the plumbing is setup, the softener would be located directly after the pressure tank & filter. so all water is softened before being used, cold or into the water heater.

      herein lies my question.... aside from the price difference, why should i buy the $2400 kinetico (or insert your favorite brand) system as opposed to the $500 system from lowes or home depot? I mean really, the $1900 could be used elsewhere for other things.

      thoughts / concerns?
      Last edited by soncjet; 02-18-2012 at 10:36 AM.
      I used to own stuff. Then I sold it. So i bought different stuff. Now I just have different stuff.

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      02-18-2012 12:21 PM #24
      I just got an estimate from kinetico for their non electric softener with ro included for the entire home for $4100!!!

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      02-18-2012 12:32 PM #25
      Quote Originally Posted by Sizzla View Post
      I just got an estimate from kinetico for their non electric softener with ro included for the entire home for $4100!!!
      Yikes! I paid about $500 for a 32,000 grain softener and installed it myself. A nearby plumbing place wanted about $900 for a supplied and installed softener. That's $400 for a couple hours of work.

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      02-18-2012 02:09 PM #26
      Quote Originally Posted by Tinker Toy View Post
      Yikes! I paid about $500 for a 32,000 grain softener and installed it myself. A nearby plumbing place wanted about $900 for a supplied and installed softener. That's $400 for a couple hours of work.
      thats what i'm wondering what the difference is all about. all i have to do, is buy one. take it downstairs, and hook up the hoses and open the water valves. 1 hour, and done. $500 is alot easier to swallow than 2400.
      I used to own stuff. Then I sold it. So i bought different stuff. Now I just have different stuff.

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      02-18-2012 02:33 PM #27
      Originally Posted by Sizzla
      I just got an estimate from kinetico for their non electric softener with ro included for the entire home for $4100!!

      kinetico makes a verrry good product but they are over priced imo. if it was a choice between kinetico/culligan or big box store brand...id dish out the extra $$$ and go with kinetico knowing i got one of the better softners on the market.

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