What criteria for a new softener

Old 03-15-05, 10:23 AM
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Question What criteria for a new softener

I am fed up with my GE softener! I am buying a new one and installing it myself. Is testing hardness a must or is there a general rule of thumb? Two women + me, 1200 sq/ft house. I think we use a lot of water for our small family, so I had thought of a as needed regen unit.

Extra info welcome on what else I should be paying attention to. I also do my own maintenance as much as possible, so ease of repair is good, but quality is a big concern.

Old 03-16-05, 11:39 AM
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What to watch out for...

What's wrong with the GE?

The number 1 thing you need to do is detect the difference between helpful information, and a carefully worded sales pitch. ALWAYS independently verify EVERY SINGLE claim made by salesmen, companies and websites. Watch out for statements like: "Don't buy a Chevy, they fall apart after x years. Buy a Buick, they'll last service free for decades and they come with an engine, tires, and a gastank and will go in reverse." Especially when it comes from a Buick salesman who doesn't sell or service Chevys... It may not be an outright lie, but it's intentionally worded to deceive you into thinking that Buicks have special features (like engines) that Chevys don't. Do you're own comparison -- most softeners and components have manuals and spec sheets you can download from the web.

Also, if you're considering buying a "kit" softener from the internet and assembling it yourself, watch out for what they don't tell you. You'll get various advice on which is the "best" valve, usually with claims of great, service-free longevity (invariably much longer than those awful, awful valves they don't sell), sometimes ranging in the decades. What they don't mention is that some of these "best" high-end valves have only been on the market for several years or less. Will a New Improved high-end valve that's been manufactured for 18 months last for 20 service-free years?

Another thing that isn't mentioned is the warranty some valves have. "Valve 'x' has a five year warranty!" What the salesmen leave out is that it only covers OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers -- the companies who buy their valves to use in their own product). This is not the same as a retail warranty convering the consumer. You, the consumer, may actually get ZERO warranty from the valve manufacturer. So if you're planning on buying a softener or "kit" from the internet, make sure you get a copy of the full warranty ON PAPER from the person you plan on buying it from -- and read it to make sure it actually covers you.

As far as repair, you can download manuals with exploded diagrams for most systems, and sometimes repair manuals if you search the web. You might also search and try to find replacement parts and prices for the system/valve you're considering buying.

If you're fed up with your GE softener, then you should know that the same basic valve (made by Ecodyne) is used in models by Kenmore, Whirlpool, Morton System Saver, NorthStar, and Ecowater. And a FWIW, Autotrol valves (which are NOT used on the above systems) are a GE product.
Old 03-16-05, 01:18 PM
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I agree with the "sales pitch". I bought my GE a little over a year ago at Sam's Club based solely on what I could afford at the time, no sales pitch. I didn't buy my Chevy expecting to replace it a year later when a Caddy will last 10. I didn't expect to get 15 - 20 years of trouble free use from my cheapness, but more than one would be nice.

Hence, that's why I am here, to see what hundreds of people are saying has worked for them and hopefully a few people that deal with this stuff every day will step up and give me straight, honest answers. I'm not trying to offend anyone, I've just had bad luck with a few appliances that just happen to have a GE tag on them. Now I want a better product, I don't care who it's made by. Maybe I over worked it for my situation, that's why I asked for a rule of thumb to go by. I wrench on enough stuff, I want my plumbing and heating to quietly do their job worry free for a few years.
Old 03-16-05, 08:14 PM
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You can find sizing charts by Googling "water softener sizing chart", and you can determine average daily water usage by looking at your water company meter and then subtracting that from the number a month later then dividing by 30. You can find out roughly how hard your water is by calling your utility company, or more precisely by sending a sample to a lab. Just don't send the sample to a company that's trying to sell you something.

I don't think in this forum we're supposed to discuss which specific brands/models are better or higher quality. You may actually do better in this regard by asking your friends and neighbors.

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