Hi all (long post alert):

Our current neutralizer & water softener are 20 years old & having problems. I am doing my due diligence, researching replacing them with new equipment, perhaps ourselves. We are handy with home repair, know how to install/sweat copper piping, do basic electrical, etc.

I also have 3 companies coming out to give us service recommendations/new equipment quotes:
* Our current local, family-owned company
* A Kinetico dealer (yes, yes, I know but I got a free water test and a price quote for comparison)
* A local independant who used to be a service tech for our system several years ago & now has his own business.

Our water tests as follows:

Iron 4.5
pH 6.5
Hardness 7
TDS 165
Manganese 0

The home is a rental duplex with well/septic. 2 adults/2 children on one side (tenants); currently only 1 adult on the other (family), but future occupancy a few years down the line could be up to 2 adults/2 children also, so any system should be sized to handle that potential.

Each side has 1 full bath, 1 half bath. 4 outside faucets total. Well is 150' deep. New Gould pump put in about 5 years ago. I want to say 1.5hp, but I have to pull the paperwork. I would also have to go out & measure the well draw, but likely 100'.

The Welltrol pressure tank was replaced a year or two ago. I'd have to pull the paperwork on that too - Kinetico rep said it was an 8 gallon. Refill time on it was 38 seconds, so he estimated a 12.5gpm draw from the well. Shouldn't the pressure tank be sized to take 2 minutes to fill, or am I misunderstanding something about fill time/pump wear & tear?.

A family member had the tank replaced when we were on vacation, so unfortunately I wasn't around to get involved with sizing. The house tends to have pressure problems. Pressure guage is set to 30/50. On occasions pressure problems have been from iron-clogged lines coming from the well. The softener repair tech has cleared them in the past. But it's possible the tank is undersized for a 2 family/8-person/4 bathroom residence. That's an issue for another day. But please chime in if you like

The well tends to get iron bacteria so we chlorine-shock every few years or so. In the past we've seem to have ferric (precipitated) iron as well as ferrous (dissolved) when sampling raw well water, although when the Kinetico rep tested it, the water at the kitchen faucet with the system on bypass appeared clear. Fresh toilet water is slightly yellow however (in a newly installed toilet, with no iron build up in it or tank). Kinetico rep only tested for ferrous iron. Is there a field test for ferric?

Interesting sidenote - we had a lightening strike in the backyard about 40' from the wellhead in July 07, so it's possible this fragged the aquafer a bit and changed the water properties from what we used to experience if the underground flow has revised somewhat.

So...what would you recommend for a neutralizer & softener system? Sizing (cu.ft./grains of hardness/etc)? Standard resin or fine mesh? Single tank? Dual tank? Plain Calcite or a Calcite/Corosex blend? Percentage? Anything else I should take into account?

I've been reading on this forum (and others) about the various choices among Fleck, Clack & Autotrol valve assemblies, Structural tanks, etc.

Problems with the current system:
1. Needs servicing - last time was 2 years ago.

2. I suspected neutralizer needed Calcite. pH upon retest thru system remained at 6.5, so neutralizer is obviously not doing anthing.

3. Neutralizer has a side-mount valve head. Current company says these are no longer made and they can't get parts for them. Likely if they try to clean it (it often gets clogged with iron bacteria slime) & refill with Calcite, some metal components inside will breeak and not be replacable.

4. They quoted me over the phone $2400 to replace it. Uh-huh. $5k for the whole sytem.

3. Iron on retest went from 4.5 on bypass to 2.4 thru system. Likely softener is removing some iron, but without the neutralizer to help out, it can't get it all? Or possibly some problem with the softener system. Kinetic rep hooked up a mini-softener to the kitchen tap & the water showed no iron upon the second retest.

4. I don't know how old the current resin bed is, although I could find out on Monday from my current company. But I'd bet it's old.

5. One of the valve heads was replaced several (5? 8?) years ago - I think the softener one. Something with the injectors or gear assembly breaking, if my memory serves (it may not ) Data would be available from current service company.

6. Pressure has been more lousy than usual lately, along with periodic yellow-ish water, which is what prompted my service call, along with knowing it had been 2 years since they were out. Pressue is just adequate to run the shower on the 2nd floor. If you turn on a faucet or flush the toilet, there's no water for the shower.

7. We probably need to do some replumbing coming off of the pressure tank to help with the pressure situation. There's only 3/4", and I think even some 1/2" mixed in there to service the house. We don't reside there; I have to measure & see what's there.

8. Pressure problem may also be related to pipes fouled with iron/iron bacteria from raw well water. One of the guys coming Monday will be looking at this. We've had to have the piped coming from the well to the pressure tank cleaned in the past (I think that was the section that needed cleaning). They were filled with gunk.

FWIW, here's the Kinetico quote, which considering some of the prices I've heard for these things, doesn't seem bad. But is it undersized?
1. Kinetico Mach 2060 backwashing neutralizer. This is a non-electric and double tanked system. It is also metered and comes with a 10 year parts warranty. The cost for this unit is $1895.00 installed.

2. Kinetico Mach 2060 softener. This unit has the same features as the neutralizer and costs $2445.00 installed.

3. Tenergy 1.5 cft single tank electric neutralizer. This is an economical alternative to the Kinetico Mach 2060 neutralizer. The unit has a fleck valve and costs $1600.00. The warranty is 5 years on the valve and 10 years on the tank.

4. Tenergy 1.0 cft single tank water softener. This unit also has a Fleck valve and costs $1895.00 installed. A larger 1.5 cft unit is $2150.00.

All units include a bypass valve. The water softeners include 3 bags of potassium chloride. Should you decide to replace both units I will re-plumb from the well tank to the split in 1 at no additional cost. Should you choose the Kinetico units I will include a device (at no charge) that does not allow both systems to backwash at once. Since the units are metered there is the possibility that they both backwash at the same time and with two apartments requiring water you could have low pressure. The lock out kit only allows one unit to backwash at a time.

Thanks with your help with any recommendations or advice! Anything else I should find out or questions I should ask? I have the two other companies coming on Monday to give me their assesment.

If you need any further info, let me know. I tried to be as comprehensive as I could with the info I currently have on hand, so you could best advise.

And if you read this far, you are of sturdy stock indeed!