this control valve is the most popular and easy to repair...
Hi folks. I'm a homeowner shopping for a water softener and I know little about them. I have figured out I want a metered system. And I do not have room for a dual tank system. Other than that, what are the most important considerations? Should the valve head be brass or plastic? Is an 8 cycle system worth the cost? I appreciate your advice!
this control valve is the most popular and easy to repair...
Have you had your water tested first prior to installation of a softener? A test may help determine if you need to address any high concentrations of minerals first (e.g. iron). A test before installing can save $$$ and headaches later...as I found out the hard way.
Why have you figured out that you need a metered system? Just curious for more info... Your most important considerations are how many people are in your household and how hard your water is.
Obviously, a brass valve is more solid than a plastic one, but is the cost worth it? Autotrol and Fleck have been manufacturing valves for many years of a plastic composite that are pretty darn good. Go with something that can be serviced. Metered is good; I don't mean to sound like it is not, but a timered system has its place too.
Measure Twice, Cut Once
A metered valve is usually the best choice for a softener. They usually save up to 50% of the salt and water a time clock valve will use. About the only time a timer is used today is when the water use is real consistant and you have iron of say over 3 ppm. But a metered, demand initiated regeneration (DIR), valve can be set up the same way since most have calendar override today and that's the best choce because you get the best of both.Originally Posted by BW
You should learn more about how a softener works. Try this, it's a generalization but fairly good:
I suggest buying a softener with the best quality control valve. That's because the control valve is where the moving parts are and 95+% of problems with a softener are control valve related. Thereby I suggest the Clack WS-1 and the Fleck 7000SE which are IMO the best control valves on the market due to having only one part in the water stream. That's a piston instead of up to 7 flapper valve discs like Autotrol.
Both have soft water brine makeup, calendar override, count down of gallons remaiing and varaible reserve while the 7000 has variable brining too. The Clack WS-1 is the better of the two for easy operation, fast and easy repair and low priced parts. It was invented by 3 ex Fleck engineers to compete with the Fleck line of valves and the 7000 was invented to compete with it. Autotrol has the Logix timer as the only control that counts down th remaining gallons and it only allows 3 salt dose settings! Which is very odd IMO. The 7000 is full ported 1.25" while the Clack WS-1 is 1", but the Clack WS 1.25 is 1.25". The 7000 is more expensive and takes longer to repair if needed but, it doesn't require the special and control valve specific tools other Fleck valves do; like the world's most popular control, the Fleck 5600.
There are two parts to correctly sizing a softener; capacity and SFR (service flow rating). If you exceed the SFR of a softener, you won't get all the hardness out of the water; we call that leakage. To learn more, search for "softener sizing chart" with the "". There are many web sites that have charts but...make sure they mention the SFR instead of only capacity. Also, you need a water test for hardness if on city water and hardness, iron, pH and manganese if you're on your own well.
Quality Water Associates
gary , I liked your post
just posing a question about the difference between
these two valves fleck and Autotrol.....
I dont know a thing about the other mentioned.
It seems that in the mid west (indiana) both are used
and both disputed as to which one is the best to use
the water here is comes from "the bowells of hell" with
up to 5 + parts per million plus in iron, and up to 30 parts
you can throw this water at someone and hurt them, its so hard
the largest supply houses in this state have tried both fleck and
Autotrol type conditioners and let the plumbers decide which
were more popular...through the volume of sales.
it took a few years but most places discontinued the fleck heads
because the plumbers fouind that the Autotrol units were easier and much
more simple to make field repairs to....
the fleck controll had very poor sales and many places just dropped them completely.
BUT many water conditoner out let stores like AQUA SYSTEMS
seemed to push the fleck head only...they prefer the fleck over the Autotrol..
I believe that both valves use about the same amount of salt
please correct me if I am wrong...
I feel that the autotrol is much, much more popular with plumbers
either because they are simply more user freindly and easier to make field repairs,
or it could mean that most plumbers are just too
stubborn to learn to repair the fleck style controlls,
or I am just too lazy to take the time to
learn how to repair the fleck head
what are your opinions on the valve, ( I know I am lazy already)
Thanks for not taking anything I said as personal. I like your reply too because we can discuss this instead of someone getting their shorts all in a bunch.
You're right about the plumbers staying with Autotrol and not wanting to use anything else; it's that way here in the middle of PA too. All the supply houses tried the 5600 and eventually didn't sell many and dropped them. My opinion of why goes along the same lines as yours, for some reason the plumbers don't want to learn anything new or buy the tools to repair the Fleck line or use something different. Another idea is that the plumbers, well drillers too BTW, like the more mechanical repairs on the Autotrol. Meaning they can see everything on the outside where the 5600 etc. piston, seals and spacers can't be seen until you take them out. Another reason may be that the Fleck costs more and paying less increases the profit in the softener if they sell them for the same price, which here they do. Actually the 5600 is faster and easier to repair; only 3 screws and 3 bolts and the head is off the body. Two screws and the injector body is in your hand with the brine line still on it and the injector is exposed. And that's with the head on the valve. With the power head off, the brine valve lifts right out. To get to the flapper valves in the Autotrol takes much longer than anything on the Fleck.
I'm an independent dealer and not a plumber. I sell a lot of equipment and buy from a number of distributors and ship from a number of locations around the US. I don't do much locally anymore, I think it was 3 softeners all of 2004. Now it's all internet and I don't have any advertising here and haven't for 2 years now. I've always worked out of my house and no signs, or signs on my truck and van now for about 5 years.
My equipment cost is quite low due to my volume and I've approached a plumber or two about supplying them what they are selling at quite a savings compared to what they are paying the supply houses. Would you believe up to half? No takers. I've been asking other plumbers and pump guys to take over my local service of existing equipment. No takers. I really don't understand them! I've been in business now 18 years and have a lot of customers in 7-8 counties. I've had one plumber/heating guy service one UV light customer. The offer is that when I get a call I'll give their name and number to the customer and then call them and tell them what they need for the service. In other words, I'll do the troubleshooting for them and tell them what to look for. They can buy the parts from me or the supply house of their choice, and only one taker! So I've been giving my customer the names of independent water treatment dealers I respect and shaking my head in amazement. I think they think I'm not successful because I don't have a store front, but of all us dealers (about 10 in a 30 mile radius), only Culligan has a store front. And 99% of the plumbers work from home too.
Anyway, Autotrol is heavily marketed to supply houses where Fleck etc. goes the independent water treatment dealer route. Here we don't have your hardness, but my record is 136 gpg with some in the 30-50 gpg range with most less than 15 gpg. But we do have a lot of iron and H2S and acid water.
Yes as long as the rest of the softener is the same, both will use the same salt dose unless we look at the controls that have variable brining. That assumes they are both set up the same. But then the plumbers/drillers don't want to learn that stuff and totally depend on the counter guy in the supply house that knows their softeners. Around here only 2-3 plumbers/drillers have taken the time and put forth the effort to learn water treament, and they pretty good except for the equipment they use. Autotrol chokes on high iron. And they don't have the safety brine system and are famous for overflowing the brine tank.
It's the same with pump work, only a rare few do submersible pumps but most will sell a jet pump replacement. Yet again, they/most won't learn troubleshooting (for 2 line jets) or sizing or get into replacing the foot valves or j-bodies. Frankly they are missing out on a line of profit. Even though most everyone thinks "plumber" when they have no water or "Culligan" and then high price and go back to plumber when they have poor water quality. But they don't show me lazy, they work their backsides off in regular plumbing work and complain how hard and dirty it is and that they can't get what it's worth, and I agree it is hard work and I admire them. But then I'm back to shaking my head.... lol
Quality Water Associates
thatk you for your post.....
you are right about plumbers in general
I NEVER have broken down an autotrol valve....
I am lazy and just change out the whole top half assembly and
know its basically just like new.....
.and I think thats the problem....vs the FLECK
its just too simple just to change out the whole controll
and charge the customer for it , than to spend the whole day
playing arouind trying to rebuild one...
its quick and easy and the customer never has seemed to mind...
of course most of my customers have already gotten a royal
screwing from Culligan or have heard horror stories from their neighbors
and really feel that when I rebuild their 12 year old autotrol unit
by simply changeing out the top half assembly they are being treated right.
Around here everyone is hyptonized by Cullligan,
they can walk into a home and demand 2200 for one of
their water softeners
AND ACTUALLY GET IT!!!!!
I have actually been turned away because the customer
would rather have a 2200 NON METERED cullligan unit
over my $995 METERED 45.000 grn Autotrol unit.....
that really makes me shake my head...
I dont push water conditoners too much because their is too
much competition and the people already have a mindset..
IMHO the rental side of the market is where the big money is made....
and it souinds like you got quite a few customers.....?? 500+
all you need is about 2000 people sending you 20 per month
for rebuilt rental units and you got a good very , very good cash flow comming in.
I understand what you are saying
plumbers in general are morons...
they would rather stick their heads
in toilets all day and clean out sewers
than learn something new about the fleck valve.
It is amazing that no one in your area
wants to get involved with
someting that lucrative.
Last edited by master plumber mark; 06-10-2005 at 03:19 PM.
I've replaced many flapper valve sets but never a module. I've replaced a few hundred time clock 155 and 255 controls with Fleck metered valves and usually replaced the resin at the same time. Customers loved the idea and saved multiple hundreds compared to the price of a new softener. And it took no more time than installing a new one. I've probably got up to 20-30 good 155 valves here in a big box now; they were supposed to be for my rental program that I never got around to. I made a lot of money repairing and rebuilding older softeners. While to Culligan, anything not theirs is junk and has to be replaced. I've replaced quite a few of theirs too. I don't know how many customers I sold to locally, but I have 3 file cabinet drawers full. Now it's all internet and that's over 500 in the last 18 months with about $500 a month in overhead. And ya just know I love it.
I've had some rentals but only a few. Here there aren't many people that will rent. It is an expensive way to treat your water problem. Culligan always offers a rental price along with the purchase price as a closing tool and I guess they get some but more as a trial period than long term solution. They covert the first 3 months rental payments toward the purchase price if it's bought at the end of that time.
Plumbers are just human and don't like to get out of their comfort zone, even if it's uncomfortable where they're at. At least they they know where they are, so most simply elect to stay there. And that can be said about the majority of people.
Quality Water Associates
I have recently installed a GE Logix metered softener. The drain valve will not completely shut after a regeneration. I have removed the head and found a small piece of gravel in the valve as it fell out when I was cleaning it out. It solved the problem and I was told that this was due to opening the supply water to the unit to quickly and there fore resin and gravel shot up into the valve. I had cracked the supply water 1/4" to let the water slowely fill the resin tank and I cycled through the stages as the manual said. The unit just regenerated again and we have the same problem. This valve seems pretty straight forward and is it necessary to disassemble this valve to make sure to other resin or gravel is in the head? Thanks for any help!!!
It could be plumbed correctly, looking at the front of the control valve, the inlet is on the left back but, if any gravel got down into the distributor tube during assembly, it will go up and out of the tank into the control valve when water is used in the house.
If it is plumbed backwards, gravel can't get out before resin does.
The bottom basket could be broken allowing gravel out in the service position.
I had an Ecowater salesman come by my house a few weeks ago wanting nearly $4000 for one of their systems. This seemed quite high, especially after reading what I have online about water softeners--I have a 13-year-old Culligan system at the house I am moving from that has had two minor repair calls during that time and it cost me around half of what Ecowater wants. My contractor's partner, who is based in Las Vegas, recommended Krystal Pure, which he has installed in his house and in his mother's house here in OC. The Ecowater salesman called me today and I told him I was going with another supplier. He then later called me back telling me how much better Ecowater is than Krystal Pure going on and on to the point I had to tell him I needed to get back to work. Even if Ecowater is better, is it 4x better to justify the price difference? I find that hard to believe. He said that Krystal Pure used an Autotrol controller, which I know are widely used, and that it was inferior to Fleck or Ecowater controllers. The warranty differences are 25 years vs. life. If I get 25 years of service out of the resin for 1/4 the price of warrantying it for a lifetime, I'll easily accept that.
Please let me know your thoughts on these issues and let me know if I am missing something.
Last edited by matsci; 04-11-2011 at 11:52 AM.