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Thread: I could use some input on my water softener situation.

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  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member RobinFL's Avatar
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    Default I could use some input on my water softener situation.

    Hi,

    This post is lengthy, but I'm trying to give as much information as I can to give a clear picture of my situation. I have a residential well and had my water tested by the University of Florida with the following results (in parts per million):

    calcium = 45.5
    magnesium = 20.4
    hardness = 197.4
    iron = 0.0
    manganese = 0.0
    sodium = 10.0
    chloride = 9.2
    suspended solids = 0.0
    and pH = 7.6

    I'm looking for a water softening solution and also a reverse osmosis system for the kitchen.

    Additional information: years ago I suffered a spinal cord injury which left me wheelchair-bound and unable to perform maintenance on any of the stuff myself. That being the case, I basically need a service to maintain the unit. There are three people in our household however, my wife wastes a lot of water in the kitchen and I take a lot longer shower than the norm. Also, occasionally we have company staying with us a week or two at a time.

    I called Culligan and was shown their high-efficiency metered unit complete with a wireless remote to be able to control the unit without going outside.
    http://www.culligan.com/uploadedFile...e_01021076.pdf

    Now going into this I knew whatever they had would cost a lot more than what I could buy elsewhere, but I was thinking I would be getting a better quality product with good service, warranty and a company to fall back on that would be there years down the road.

    The sales rep gave me a price for the above softener which he said was a 30,000 grain softener which would take care of all my softening needs. They also offer a "platinum" package for $150 a year which covers an inspection of the unit every other month, salt included, free maintenance on parts and labor for as long as you keep paying with the first year included in the price.

    Since then I've been trying to do research on what I was told and am getting confused. I downloaded the user manual and don't fully understand the specs. I wasn't told which size unit I was quoted (outside of 30,000 grain) and called back to find it's the 9 inch/1 ft.³ model. The sales rep wrote down 10 gpg of hardness which is more like 11.5 by my calculations and I used an online calculator which recommended a minimum of 1.5 ft.³ of resin.

    With their proprietary reverse osmosis system the total price is around $4500 and I'm wondering if I would be better off with the larger unit, just how much I'd be getting screwed and what others would recommend given my situation? Any input is appreciated.

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Water systems designer, R&D ditttohead's Avatar
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    Where in Florida are you, I have many companies that can help you. Culligans $150 per year sevice is actually not bad at, but the initial cost will negate this as being a good price. I guarantee you the price they quoted you is highly negotiable, but even so, consider getting some other prices. According to my calculations, you should use 8 bags of salt per year, considering the delivery costs, etc. that is $15 per bag, but you will also never have to pay for a service call, parts, maintenance, etc. Please move forward with an offer like this with extreme caution, read the contracts carefully, and push them hard with questions. Get anything they say in writing, and not from the sales guy, but from their regional manager. Buyer beware on something like this.

    I would also recommend researching the long term financial viability of any company that is offering a long term contract.

  3. #3
    DIY Junior Member RobinFL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ditttohead View Post
    Where in Florida are you, I have many companies that can help you. Culligans $150 per year sevice is actually not bad at, but the initial cost will negate this as being a good price. I guarantee you the price they quoted you is highly negotiable, but even so, consider getting some other prices. According to my calculations, you should use 8 bags of salt per year, considering the delivery costs, etc. that is $15 per bag, but you will also never have to pay for a service call, parts, maintenance, etc. Please move forward with an offer like this with extreme caution, read the contracts carefully, and push them hard with questions. Get anything they say in writing, and not from the sales guy, but from their regional manager. Buyer beware on something like this.

    I would also recommend researching the long term financial viability of any company that is offering a long term contract.
    Thanks for the reply and the advice. I live near Tampa.

    What do you think about the sizing they recommended? With more resin does that just mean more time between recharge cycles? The sales rep didn't go into the different sizes within the high-efficiency model and I noticed the 9 inch/1 ft.³ is the smallest.

  4. #4
    In the Trades Tom Sawyer's Avatar
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    Default

    You might want to look into Kinetico while your are at it.
    [B]No, plumbing ain't rocket science. Unlike rocket science, plumbing requires a license[B]

  5. #5
    Water systems designer, R&D ditttohead's Avatar
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    If you are willing to spend that much money, I agree with Tom, I prefer Kinetico for those who have no real problems with price.

    The larger models will extend time between regenerations, provide potentially higher quality water (you would only know this through expensive testing methods, so it is not something a homeowner would notice, just a technical note), higher service flow rates, higher efficincies. We sell our 1 cu. ft units for almost the identical price to the 1.5 cu. ft. units. It is purely a volume issue. We assemble 1.5 and 2 cu ft systems in mass bulk, the 1 cu. ft units are built to order. The additional .5 cu. ft. of resin is offset by the assembly times of mass producing vs, low quantity production. You may notice that many sellers online charge just a few dollars more for a unit that is 50% larger. This is why.

    I will check for local good companies local to you when I return to the office on Wednesday.

  6. #6
    Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek Mikey's Avatar
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    "Near Tampa" covers an awful lot of ground, so there are probably hundreds of companies, including the big proprietary brands like Kinetico and Culligan. No matter who you choose, I'd ask them for customer lists for folks you could call for referrals. Granted, they probably won't tell you much about people who had bad experiences, but if you can find a few near you to talk to you might get some useful vibes about how a particular dealer or franchiser performs.

    I'm a DIYer and recovering engineer, so I stay away from the big guys on principle, but your situation is different, obviously. But even the higher initial price isn't that terrible. I paid a local independent guy $3991 in today's dollars to install my conventional 1.5 ft³ system -- chlorinator, carbon, softener. I could do a lot better today, doing everything myself, but I hadn't a clue 12 years ago. Ongoing maintenance costs me about $180/year for chlorine, salt, and reserve for media replacement, and it's getting a lot harder than it used to be to toss 40-lb bags of salt around.

    I personally would choose Culligan over Kinetico, but that's based on not being able to do any maintenance on my own, and the bad experience of a neighbor (aka "hearsay"). However, I think most (all?) Kinetico systems offer continuous treatment without interruption for regeneration, whereas that's an expensive option for "conventional" systems, and might be something you'd want for those times when you're using a ton of water. In any event, I'll bet Culligan could be talked into upgrading you to a 1.5 ft³ unit for the same price without too much effort. The water-treatment field, especially in Florida, is notorious for being negotiable -- my independent guy knocked off close to $1000 from his original quote and all I said was "let me think about it for a while."

    Keep in mind those are comments from an amateur DIYer, not one of the many experts on this forum. I'm just as anxious to see dittohead's list as you are...

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