Need help buying water softener


  #1  
Old 03-28-07, 01:00 AM
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Need help buying water softener

Hey guys, first of all, i'm new here. really glad to have found this place.

I'm looking into getting a new water softener. Here's the situation, we recently bought a new house which is 16 years old, i'm assuming the unit that's there now is just as old, but haven't really checked into it. All i do know, is that the water doesn't seem soft at all, doesnt feel soft in the shower and we have all kinds of crap growing in the toilets, like pinkish/orangish ringes around where the water line is in the toilet. We also have build up in the dogs water bowl, , like it's all gritty at the bottom like sand paper, this has happened to 2 bowls and we have to use limeaway to remove it.

All this leads me to believe the unit that is in there now is either working very little or not at all. I plan on having my water tested this weekend, hopefully that will shed a bit more light on what's going on with the weird orange stuff.

I was looking at a unit at sears, their top dog kenmore unit costs 700 bucks. After reading a bunch of stuff on here it seems it would be silly to go with a kenmore or "bigbox" units. We are on well water by the way. I want to get an over sized unit to make sure it really gets everything out and plan on using the potassium pellets instead of salt. Guess i'm just looking to find info on the newer units out there since it seems that most of the threads i've been reading appear to be a bit out dated.

Thanks in advance for any help you might be able to send my way.
 
  #2  
Old 03-28-07, 04:44 AM
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You say that most of the threads seem dated and you wanted to know what "new" units are out there. How new are you thinking?

If you have been reading threads, you would see clearly that few people have anything positive to say about the units you mentioned. They are generally marketed to two types of people: those who know little about water treatment or those who care even less. The are called the "landlord's special". "There, you have your softener, shut up and pay the rent."

People who consider those units rarely seriously look at quality units because PRICE jumps out at them and they are not comparing apples to apples.

First of all, you will need a complete water analysis and an understanding of the consequences of water damage if water is left untreated. You presently have a softener that has died, it appears. The unit you have is probably better than the above mentioned type and it hasn't worked as expected for quite some time. Do you want to buy a similar unit figuring that it, too, will burn out?

Take your water seriously and buy a quality softener, filter, drinking water system, you won't regret it.

Andy Christensen, CWS
 
  #3  
Old 03-28-07, 07:55 AM
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Getting an OVER size softener will do nothing for you. The hardness is exchanged "ion for ion".

Getting a PROPERLY sized softener for your plumbing (SFR), water condiitons, and water usage is a MUST and is often overlooked at time of purchase and regretted later. PROPERLY sized is not the same as hardness capacity and no one I've EVER talked to at Sears even knows what properly sized softener, let alone SFR, even means.

Here's a short thread about someone with a softener that was not properly sized...

http://forum.doityourself.com/showthread.php?t=298256
You have to "copy & paste" as HTML is turned off on this forums.

Ok, water softener 101 ...

First, get a complete water test from an independent lab. This is a MUST DO because without it everything is a guess. A quickie water test from Sears or a water softener company won't be complete. They only test for the "profitable" stuff.

Second, hit the Yellow Pages and call at least three local water treatment pros. Make sure you call at least one of the big dogs like Kinetico or Culligan and at least a couple independent pros. DON'T TELL THEM YOU HAD YOUR WATER TESTED.

Give each an opportunity to offer suggestions and provide you with a quote to meet your water treatment needs. IGNORE ANY THAT DON'T TEST YOUR WATER THEMSELVES as they can't speak intelligently to water treatment without knowing what needs to be treated.

Ask lots of questions. Warranty, parts & labor, how long? Install, permits required, licensed plumber? Routine maintenance and costs? Do they stock parts? Response time for emergency (water leak) calls? If they don't explain things to your satisfaction that is a good indicator of how you'll be treated after the sale.

After they've gone use your water test to compare with their's. Are all your treatment needs being addressed?

Ask your neighbors if they have any water treatment experience. They might tell you who's good or who to avoid.

Come back here and post the specific recommendations and hardware with the costs and we'll give you our opinions.

If you're a DIYer then you have other options ...
http://ohiopurewaterco.com/shop/customer/home.php?cat=179
You have to "copy & paste" as HTML is turned off on this forums.
But remember, when you do it yourself there's no one else to blame


The negatives regarding the pre-built "box store" softeners are ...

Lower quality materials, mostly ABS which ages and becomes brittle. ABS does not do well with really hard water. On 3 gr hardness city water most any softener will give a decent service life BUT harder water than that seperates the pre-built box store softeners from the quality ones.

While all ion exchange water softeners use resin and "tanks" there's a big difference in the resin and resin "tanks". Again, the pre-built softeners do not use the top quality resin from companies like Purolite or Ionac and the materials their resin "tanks" are made of are not the same quality as the Structural brand (10 year warranty) resin tanks the top quality softeners come with.

Most of the parts are proprietary and available from limited sources and they tend to be expensive.

The pre-built softeners are "cabinet" (all-in-one) designs and are much harder to work on. The cabinet design puts the resin tank inside the brine tank. The routine cleaning of the brine tank is more difficult and takes a lot more time than a conventional design softener but the Sears type does take less floor space (the ONLY advantage in it's design).

The greatest falsehhood is that pre-built BOX store softeners are less expensive than the industry standard softeners.

The Sears softeners around 40000 hardness capacity generally run a little under $500. For $466 you can have a Fleck 5600SE electronic on demand metered softener delivered to your home including shipping. You'll need to assemble it (takes less than 30 minutes) and install it. You can have a plumber assemble it and install it (you'd need a plumber to install the Sears softener also or DIY).

You'll get a control valve that has proved it's reliability over 20+ years, is made of state of the art materials (Noryl) which does not turn brittle and is totally inert. You'll get a 5 year warranty on the control valve and ten year warranty on the resin tank. You can buy parts for the Fleck control valve locally or all over the internet. Complete parts and service/repair manuals are available for download and there is always someone everywhere who can service Fleck control valves as they are the long established industry standard AND they are as easy OR easier to program than the pre-built softeners. They tolerate the hardest water with no problem.

Real softeners generally last 20+ years EVEN on ludicrously hard water while the service life on a pre-built softener seems to be under 5 years (if you're lucky) on really hard water and lasting longer than that is a rare exception.

Sears, GE, Waterboss, North Star and the like are the most commonly complained about water softeners on this forum and all over the internet. The Fleck, Autotrol, and Clack water softeners just work and work and work and work and work ...

Why buy a lesser quality water softener for more money?
 
  #4  
Old 03-28-07, 08:56 AM
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You are getting good advice. If I may pontificate a bit, a really comprehensive water test for inorganic chemicals is what you want. It will show iron, manganese, calcium, total hardness and about 20 others. You should also find out your pH, total dissolved solids, turbidity and if there are oaks and conifers on your property, tannins & lognins.

You probably got a bacteria test when you moved in. If you are like me, you probably want to know about organic chemicals, VOC's and such.

If there is grit in the dog's bowl it could be sediment in the well or perhaps the submersible pump screen has holes in it.

I am new to water treatment/softening procedures but lived on well water for 18 years in CA. Water was excellent and no one in our subdivision had any treatments.
 
  #5  
Old 03-28-07, 09:32 AM
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Successfully treating well water is more complicated than living on a water system.

You are responsible for making your water SAFE and nice.

Living on a well requires some education, some routine maintenance, and spending more money than just softening 10g hard water.

There's stuff in a well than can hurt you big time plus increase the wear and tear of your plumbing, fixturess, appliances, and clothes.

Spend the time to do your homework. Premeditation is the key to quality water.
 
  #6  
Old 03-28-07, 09:53 AM
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Wow, you guys are so quick with the replies. soo much great help in less then 12 hours!!!!! I do plan on doing a water test this weekend, we did have testing done before buying the house and it all came back as being safe, that might be all they actually test for, they test for a couple types of bacteria and thats about it.

I like that ohio water site you've mentioned, they have their prices right there and makes it easy to figure out what you want.

What is the difference between the 5600, and 5600SE, whats the 'se" ? Also, what's the difference between the 5600 and the 7000 ??

Currently we are not using the water very much there, often it's just me in the house, so the flow rate is pretty low, but i don't know whats down the road, maybe my wife and i will have a couple kids, spring is here, summer will surely follow with some droughts and the sprinklers will be sprinkling. I don't know much about this well system, never had in my life. All i know is that the well is about 16/17 years old along with the house and it's about 300 feet deep. the water coming out of the tap is clear, and tastes good, but have never personally done any testing on it. I guess i'll just have to wait till the tests are in to move forward at all. Thanks again for all the great help, you guys are awesome.
 

Last edited by countryDIY; 03-28-07 at 10:11 AM. Reason: terrible spelling,.. did i get it all? lol
  #7  
Old 03-28-07, 10:07 AM
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The SFR (service flow rate) of the plumbing is what it is regardless of how much you open the faucet. In order to insure soft water with no hardness leakthrough the softener should be correctly sized. There is no middle ground in this calculation, it's physics.

You want to test your water or harness, iron, magmesium, PH, bacteria TDS. A competent lab will know what to test for. Testing well water is too important to relegate to "test strips" or Sears.

THe "SE" (simple electronics) version of Fleck valves allows for easy and minute fine tuning of the softener for the most efficent operation and is a good price/value upgrade.

The 5600SE or a 2510SE are both tried and true products that have proven themselves in the field for a long time. The 7000 control valve is relatively new and relects today's technology in it's design. It offers some features that may or may not appeal to you. You can't go wrong with a 5600SE or a 2510SE.

Ohio Pure Water Co ( www.ohiopurewaterco.com ) is a good place to start for a DIYer but remember, when you do it yourself there's no one else to blame.
 
  #8  
Old 03-28-07, 10:23 AM
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Re your well:

There should be a well driller's log that was made up as your well was installed. Lots of good info in there. Try the county or your R/E agent.

Do you have a pressure tank with a on-off pressure switch? Probably. Anyhoo, one of the worst things you can do to a submersible well pump is having it cycle on and off constantly when you are using your irrigation system. It is hard on the pump motor. There is a device called a "cycle stop valve" which keeps your pump going without cycling. There is also an item that will shut your pump down if it is running dry. Also a pump protection device made by Symcom which keeps track of voltage spikes and surges and brownouts and will shut your equipment down and restart after the problem subsides.

You should ask around for an experienced well drilling company and have them come out for a walkthru and information session. After you find a good one, keep their phone # handy.
 
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Old 04-03-07, 11:14 PM
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okay guys.. thanks a bunch for your help so far. My water test came back. they said the water was harder AFTER going through the softener then from the sample taken before it. I got 16 grains straight out of the well, 18 grain after the softener and no iron. I have no idea what my service flow is. She offered me a 32 grain autotrol system for 1100 bucks. What do you guys think? I know they are honest people and trust that she's telling the truth about the testing, i also know they can't compete with internet prices like most places.

So i'm open to suggestions, all i DO know is that sears will not be getting this sale.
 
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Old 04-04-07, 12:04 AM
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OK, the water test came back and you have 16-18g hardness with no iron. Something is causing those "pinkish and orangish rings" and it isn't just hardness. What about magnesium, PH, TDS, bacteria, sodium? This is not a matter of trust. There should be a concise report of your water test for your reference not a scrap of paper with what "test strips" said.

On a well you need to have a complete water test so you know everything that needs to be treated. Only then can you formulate a compleete treatment scenario that will give you the quality water you need, want, and expect after spending your hard earned cash.

As far as a softener recommendation, once you get the results of the complete water test we need to know how many people in the house, the SFR of the plumbing, and if there are any specialty uses that can effect water consumption like a jaccuzzi or pool or hot tub.

Figuring 18 g hardness (AND if nothing else needs to be treated in your water) and only two people a 1 cu ft softener (32k) would be about right BUT that only has an SFR of 9gpm. If you have more than two people or other things in the water to treat or a higher SFR then that softener is too small

$1100 isn't beyond reason IF that includes the installation and a parts and labor warranty on the complete softener and the installation. You want them to make a profit so they'll still be in business when or if you need them down the road.
 
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Old 04-04-07, 12:31 AM
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Thanks for the quick response lurker. I asked about the orange/pinkish growth rings in the toilet. she explained to me that thats because of mold in the air, which settle onto the standing water and grow. She said that with normal city water this doesn't happen because it contains chlorine. they did not test for bacteria and suggested i get a free test done by the county. TDS was 270, and slightly higher from the post softener sample, think it was like 283 or something and the PH was 7.5, this was a quick conversation we had on the phone. tomorrow i am going there personally since i'll be in the area anyway, maybe then they can tell me about the sodium and magnesium, which was never discussed on the phone. Any other questions i should have prepared before heading there?

I have no clue on what my service flow rating for the house is. there's only 2 of us at the house now, but who knows what it'll be down the road.. couple years, who knows right.

As far as anything special for the house goes, i do alot of gardening, indoors and out. So i run a few hydroponic systems. The water used for those systems go through an RO unit, so the final TDS on the RO water is like 7 or 8 PPM . I probably use about 100 gallons of RO water per week with this hobby.
I should probably also tell you that i'm using a water pressure booster. It's basically a pump that kicks the PSI up by about 30. We are used to city water pressure, which is 90 PSI , out there it was 40-60 , just to hard to deal with.. so now our pressure varies from 70-90 PSI
other then that, no pools, no jaccuzzis *yet*.
 
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Old 04-04-07, 03:16 PM
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Saying that the stains come from bacteria in the air and growing in yout toilet sounds a bit, well, I suppose that is a good place for that suggestions, just hit the lever.

And, you got 18 out fo the softener and 16 before??? One might conclude that your softener is making your water HARDER! Not really the direction you want to go. And no iron? Possible. What is your pH?, TDS? What type of iron testing equipment did she use?

You know she is honest, that is good. But her toilet tale makes me think she may not KNOW what she is talking about. Doesn't matter whether she is honest or not, if she is unqualified to conduct tests and make conclusions.

Contact another water specialist and have them do a battery of tests and ask pointed questions. Do your research and don't just buy the cheapest thing on the market. Going cheap can be very expensive.

Andy Christensen, CWS
 
  #13  
Old 04-04-07, 08:09 PM
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I started out 3 months ago knowing ZERO, ZILCH, NADA about water treatment/filtration/conditioning/softening and now I know.........................about 50% of what the other posters (water pros) know.

However, you need to have a certified water lab do tesing for inorganics, about 30 +/- of them. This includes iron, manganese, total hardness, calcium, sodium, and lots more.

Have your pH and tannins done, also. If you are curious, spend $175+ on VOC's like MTBE, Xylenes, Toluene, Benzene and about 55 more with scary sounding names.

The well and softeners guys can do some field tests with their kits like TDS, iron, pH and calcium but you need more info.

Who is the "she" you speak of? Someone from Ohio Pure Water? or.................?

You might be like us and have red clay sediment in your well water. Bacterial iron is slimey and not at all like the red clay sediment we have at the bottom and sides of our toilet tank.

At some point you need to find out your flow rate. Here is one way. Open a faucet and listen for when you pressure tank clicks "on". Shut faucet off QUICKLY and time the interval until your tank is full and clicks "off". Get a one gallon container and fill and empty it xxxx number of times until you hear your pressure tank click "on".

Lets say the timed interval was 30 seconds and the number of gallons drawn was 6. Aha, you have 12 gpm.

Almost everbody I mention potassium permanganate brine to, says "Don't use it, use sodium".

IMHO, 70 to 90 lbs of water pressure is too high. Most settings are in the 50 to 70 lbs. range.

Do you have clean white plactic buckets? Try filling with raw well water and your filtered water. Let set and check 2 hours later for clarity (better or worse) and sediment at the bottom. Leave alone for another 24 hours and check again.

Do the same tests again, except add about 1 tbsp bleach to a 5 gallon bucket and 2 tbsp to another 5 gallon bucket. Take a look 30 minutes later and note if any color change, one versus the other. Check 24 hours later.

This will oxidize any iron and if you report back your findings, someone (not me!) will interpret them.
 
  #14  
Old 04-04-07, 08:47 PM
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Yadda,

A question, you posted "almost everbody I mention potassium permanganate brine to, says "Don't use it, use sodium".

Do you mean potassium chloride instead of sodium chloride? If that's what you meant here's what I've experienced...

Never mind that potassium is plain better for your body (than sodium), never mind that potassium softened water is enviromentally friendly and sodium softened water is not), and never mind that you can water plants with KCl softened water while NaCl softened water kills vegetation, and never mind that if your doctor puts you on a low or no sodium diet that potassium (KCl) softened water is your only alternative (if you want or need softened water).

You can't teach old water treatment people new tricks. Their preference for NaCl (sodium chloride) is based on it's low price vs KCl and that "I've been using it for years and it works fine. These same "experts" lament that retreaded tires are no longer avaialble and where's that re-refined bulk oil I used to buy for $.50 a gallon at the Sinclair Station?

You need to calculate your salt dose when you use KCl and it is more expensive but hey, it's the only planet we have.

If you didn't mean "potassium chloride instead of sodium chloride" then well, nevermind
 

Last edited by justalurker; 04-04-07 at 09:29 PM.
  #15  
Old 04-04-07, 09:05 PM
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I did mean sodium chloride. See, I told you I only knew 50% of what the others do.

For reasons I can explain, I don't think I would want potassium in any way, shape or form.

BTW, all the water pros who have visited here and with whom I have chatted on the phone, all go to great pains to inform me that if I went with a salt regenerate, the amount that would end up in my drinking water would be very, very small. (I would have to drink 100 gallons of treated water to equal the salt in a 8 oz. glass of tomato juice). Or something close to that.

What is your take on the salt in finished drinking water?

Thanks
 
  #16  
Old 04-04-07, 09:38 PM
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"BTW, all the water pros who have visited here and with whom I have chatted on the phone, all go to great pains to inform me that if I went with a salt regenerate, the amount that would end up in my drinking water would be very, very small. (I would have to drink 100 gallons of treated water to equal the salt in a 8 oz. glass of tomato juice). Or something close to that".

I guess that when your cardiologist puts you on a low or no sodium diet he should consult with "all the water pros who have visited here and with whom I have chatted on the phone".

Ask ALL the water pros IF they've ever lived with KCl softened water because ALL the water pros I've spoken to haven't. "Salt works good why change" is the scientific justification they offer.

My wife can taste even the minute amount of sodium added to softened water and we both don't like the taste. We both prefer the taste of potassium softened water.

"I don't think I would want potassium in any way, shape or form". Well then you better give up bananas. I'd rather avoid the salt and three doctors that I have spoken to in detail on the subject agree.

Free advice is worth what you pay for it
 

Last edited by justalurker; 04-05-07 at 08:48 AM.
  #17  
Old 04-04-07, 09:43 PM
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justalurker:

Were you a biblical scholar or a theoretical physicist in a prior life?
 
  #18  
Old 04-04-07, 10:08 PM
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yadda,

Neither, but I've run into too many "authorities" on subjects that couldn't sustain their positions with facts but could really dazzle with bull$hit...

... and I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night

As it seems you've discovered, water treatment isn't black magic. It's physics, chemistry, amd a little mechanics. All the facts one could ever want are at our fingertips if one chooses to seek them out... but nothing beats first hand experience and seeing and doing with your own eyes, hands, and brain.

There's some interesting info on NaCl and KCl here...
http://www.softeningsalt.com/index.html
You can email them and ask questions.
 
  #19  
Old 04-04-07, 10:38 PM
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justalurker:

I'll probably regret asking this, but................based on my ramblings on this thread and my first post on 2 April, what grade would you give me, A thru F ?
 
  #20  
Old 04-04-07, 10:44 PM
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At this point... an incomplete.

When you possess the quality water you seek it will be time for you to leave Grasshopper
 

Last edited by justalurker; 04-04-07 at 11:32 PM.
  #21  
Old 04-04-07, 11:45 PM
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yadda,

I forgot to include the following in our discussion of NaCl (sodium) VS KCl (potassium) as used in water softeners...

From the http://www.softeningsalt.com/index.html "Potassium Chloride FAQ" (last one in the list)

"How does potassium chloride affect chloride levels in water?

Typically, chloride levels will drop by 12 to 20 per-cent when using potassium as a water softener agent. This may not be true at high hardness levels".

Wouldn't less chloride in your softened water be a good thing?
 
  #22  
Old 04-05-07, 10:13 AM
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I'm sure less chloride would be a good thing.

Because I'm an old fuddy-duddy my first choice is a Provectr AF-12P or 13P made by Amtrol/WaterSoft. This has a venturi thence into an A/P tank thence into the larger mixed media tank which consists of Calcite/Corosex, Birm and FilterAg. Uses plain water to backwash.

Second choice is the WaterRight AW 1054T which has a Zeolite/CrystalRight media and regenerates with either sodium or potassium.

There will be a 5 or 10 micron BigBlue 4x20 inch pre-filter to catch the red clay sediment before it can clog anything up.

This is my present thinking. Am waiting for my LaMotte tannin test kit to see if any adjustments in my plan will be necessary.

Thanks for your input

Grasshopper
 
  #23  
Old 09-21-07, 01:03 AM
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Lifesource vs salt systems

I am researching systems to purchase for my residence. I have looked at Lifesource systems and Ecowater systems. Lifesource claims their system will soften the water and filter out the chlorine, etc. so that the water is good to drink. Not sure if their claim is accurate after speaking with other sales people who sell salt based systems, such as Ecowater systems and Culligan. Is anyone familiar with Lifesource and do their systems acutually soften the water? How do the two systems compare? The Ecosystem is about $500.00 cheaper than the Lifesource. But Lifesource claims it does not need maitenance, such as salt, that the Ecowater system needs.

Thanks in advance for any information on these systems.
 
  #24  
Old 09-21-07, 01:34 AM
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Lifesource

It depends on how you define "softener". :-)

If you define softening as the removal of calcium and magnesium ions, then the Lifesource system is absolutely not a softener.

My experience with these systems has been that they do a great job on chlorine & THM's, but not a thing to hardness.

Some people have found that under certain ideal conditions, a lifesource system appears to prevent scale.

Currently, there are really only two viable ways to truly soften water in a home - ion-exchange softening and membrane separation.

There is not such thing as a maintenance-free system, that's usually a good indication that the salesman is overly optimistic about the product and somewhat lenient with the truth.

How hard is your water ?
 
  #25  
Old 09-21-07, 08:17 AM
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LifeSource will not soften water and it is false advertizing for them to say such. They can call it a water conditioner, refiner, filter, treatment, etc., but it will not provide all the benefits a softener does.

The LifeSource, if I were to buy one, would follow a softener to further condition the water. It is not maintenace-free, as Greg mentioned, because it has a shelf-life and needs to have the media and prefilters relaced/serviced. There will be some change to the water quality and probably to the positive, but will it accomplish all you want for the money you are investing?

It will remove chlorine as most carbon media can do with varying effectiveness and longevity. What is your chlorine count in ppm? What are your other water test results? Hardness, TDS, total iron, etc.?

If you really are going to do research, learn all the questions to ask and comprehend the answers; then you can find appropriate solutions.

There are also a large number of different types of ion exchange softeners out there if you decide to go that direction.

Andy Christensen, CWS
 
 

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