Water Softener Installation


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Old 07-30-08, 12:33 PM
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Water Softener Installation

I just bought a used Kinetico water filtration system online and it's scheduled for delivery soon. I am mentally preparing myself to either install it myself or worse, to pay a plumber to install it.
I am also considering calling the local Kinetico dealer to install it so that they can verify it has the correct metering discs, etc. to ensure it works for my family's water usage, and to test the hardness and chlorine content of the treated water to verify the effectiveness of the resin and the carbon in the used system.
Can anyone offer advice on what kinds of questions I should ask an installer before allowing them to install the system and how much I might anticipate paying a plumber and/or Kinetico dealer to install the system?
Note: The system will be installed in my garage against the wall where the water main should be entering the house, and next to my sprinkler system control panel. I assume the plumbing can be done with minimal digging and only a couple of penetrations drilled through the brick.

For the sake of argument, let's assume I won't have to replace the resin or the carbon...

Thanks!
 

Last edited by aggie94; 07-30-08 at 12:34 PM. Reason: Original ASCII picture of garage didn't work and was removed
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Old 07-30-08, 03:45 PM
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Gives us more details on the water conditions and the actual unit you bought.

Thanks, Andy Christensen, CWS-II
 
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Old 07-31-08, 08:57 AM
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Water Softener Plumbing

I had two water softener companies out to test my water several months ago. They quoted their respective systems but neither left me with definitive water test results. I was told that my water was hard (I knew this already!) and that it would be terrible for me and my children and the integrity of my house to continue to use or consume this water! Hey, I can't fault the guy for being a salesman...

The Chlorine content wasn't terrible and I was told I could add a carbon filter later if desired, or if the water changed.

The used system hasn't arrived yet so I can't describe it, but it is a Kinetico about 5 years old, has a carbon filter included, and will arrive in 3 boxes (presumably resin, resin, Brine Tank). I expect it to look like the "City-Water Softener" on the Kinetico website.

Is that enough info to help me with my plumbing / plumber questions?
 
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Old 07-31-08, 04:34 PM
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Well, there still isn't enough info to determine that the equipment will match the water conditions. How is that you bnought and don't have any infor on it?

Anyway, after it arrives let us know.

Andy Christensen, CWS-II
 
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Old 08-02-08, 01:04 PM
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Originally Posted by aggie94 View Post
Can anyone offer advice on what kinds of questions I should ask an installer before allowing them to install the system and how much I might anticipate paying a plumber and/or Kinetico dealer to install the system?
I bought it on Craigslist and frankly, the woman knew very little about what she had. She shared the info I mentioned below and put in a "canned" picture. She said it had been purchased new, used a year and then boxed up.

Even after the unit arrives, I still won't be able to provide my actual water conditions as they weren't shared with me...

I got a good price on the softener and I'm willing to risk it being a little less or more efficient than my water conditions require. I just need a little help from the forum installing it...

Is there a plumber in the house?!?!?!
 
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Old 08-02-08, 01:42 PM
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Aggie

On softeners, AndyC is one of the most knowledgable guys here. Installing it is nothing more than putting pipes together, but installing it RIGHT requires the info already requested. No sense in putting it all together then finding out you need some sort of pre-filter, post-filter or whatever.

Once you have the unit, and have a water test done by a qualified lab that will give you the actual numbers, if you post back you'll get plenty of assistance and advice

BTW not a softener guy here, at all. Just have been on here long enuf to know that its all about the info!

Sorry if I stepped on any Pro toes.
 
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Old 08-05-08, 03:32 PM
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Thanks anyway

I appreciate the response Gun.

The fact is that I'm a compulsive "do-it-yourselfer". Not only am I frugal, but more, I enjoy the challenge of learning something new and putting that knowledge to work to create something...repair something...improve something...

In general, I learn by doing. When something breaks, some people take it to the repair shop. Me? I take it apart, figure out how it works, fix the problem and put it back together. Sometimes, the thing doesn't survive...and that's OK, at least I learned from it.

It's not that I don't value the experience of a professional. I accept on a regular basis that some of my projects will take me 2-3 times longer than a professional would take. Sometimes I have to buy tools, so it may not even save me money, BUT; I get to keep the tools...and the next time I do it, it will take less time...and I always, always, always walk away smarter than I was before I did the job. It's that whole "If you give a man a fish he'll eat for a day..." thing.

I thought I had found gold in this website. DIY's helping DIY's on their quest! Too "romantic"? Ok. Well, let me put it this way: I'm not here to find the SOLUTION to my "problem". Some of the stuff I've already figured out. Some will be figured out later... What I'm really looking for is help with the PROCESS. Wouldn't that help more readers? What can they gain from reading about the exact hardness of my water? Or what kind of softener I SHOULD have purchased based on my water conditions? In contrast, what might they gain from reading about the typical pitfalls encountered when installing your own water softener? What about the criteria used when selecting a plumber...and when to consider bringing in a manufacturer's rep? And finally, what questions to ask to ensure they know what they're doing and a price range to look for so that the readers don't get cheated by a (god forbid) shady technician or service rep?

In my experience, if I go to an automobile forum and ask how to change the oil in my car, anyone who asks what kind of car it is, or what kind of oil I plan to use has a hidden agenda.

Similarly, there is nothing more frustrating for me than asking my wife where my (fill in the blank) is and having her ask what I need it for. Why does she need to know what I'm going to do with it? It's time consuming for me to explain my approach, walk her through my thought process, get her to buy in that I really should do what I'm doing. I just don't have the patience. Maybe I'm overly sensitive (cause he touched a "wife" nerve?)...but Andy's questions sounded a little like "What do you need a plumber for?" Since when am I not smart enough to know the questions I need answered?

Andy - I am certainly not trying to offend you. From all of your posts, I agree with GunGuy that you seem extremely knowledgeable in your field. You answer the questions "What softener should I buy?", "What's wrong with my softener?", even "What's wrong with my water?" very well. They're just not the questions I'm asking...and I'm afraid I don't have the patience to take three steps back to accomplish my last step forward.

Again, I covet any plumbing advice that you guys would be willing to part with! If not, I thank you for your time reading this post...
 
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Old 08-05-08, 04:02 PM
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Aggie...no prob..I get ya. I'm the same way. A true DIY'r is a bit anal about prep stuff, heck, I know I am. Come on..dont deny it...lol

I was just trying to say that Andy can prob tell you the type of fittings you'll need, the inital settings, the startup procedure, parts that you should get before starting, all that good stuff...once he knows what you have there.

Kinetco's from what I've seen are some of the PRIMO units out there, esp if its relatively new. Water demand as opposed to timed, No electric required, Low salt usage, etc, etc, as I'm sure you already know.

We're all here to help each other. I'm a jack of all trades...master of none, I know when to ask for help...sounds like yer the same.

BTW where the heck is that thing? Damn, I hope it wasn't some sort of rip-off!
 
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Old 08-06-08, 10:05 AM
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Originally Posted by aggie94 View Post

In my experience, if I go to an automobile forum and ask how to change the oil in my car, anyone who asks what kind of car it is, or what kind of oil I plan to use has a hidden agenda.


Andy - I am certainly not trying to offend you. From all of your posts, I agree with GunGuy that you seem extremely knowledgeable in your field. You answer the questions "What softener should I buy?", "What's wrong with my softener?", even "What's wrong with my water?" very well. They're just not the questions I'm asking...and I'm afraid I don't have the patience to take three steps back to accomplish my last step forward.

Again, I covet any plumbing advice that you guys would be willing to part with! If not, I thank you for your time reading this post...
No offense.

Here a few of the questions you asked. I had a little difficulty in determining actual from rhetorical questions, my apologies.

Can anyone offer advice on what kinds of questions I should ask an installer before allowing them to install the system and how much I might anticipate paying a plumber and/or Kinetico dealer to install the system?
Well, you can ask him if he is licensed and have him show you a copy. You can ask him if he has experience with water softeners in general and Kinetico specifically. Does he know how to set the salt dosage? Does he ability to test water? Does he have parts to change or fix your particular equipment?

Ask him about building codes concerning discharge into the septic, field tiles, sump pump, air-gaps?

You can estimate between $55 and $75 per hour plus parts depending on your location in the country.

Is there a plumber in the house?!?!?!

Well, yes, there are many here with experience in plumbing and how to avoid problems but it can be like trying to buy a pair of shoes for someone without knowing their size, likes or needs. You may have to be at the mercy of person you hire, so get an exprienced one.

What I'm really looking for is help with the PROCESS.

Are you asking us how to connect pipes whether they be plastic, PEX, copper, or galvanized? Where shut-offs should be placed? How to by-pass? If you are looking for that, I suggest Lowes has many DIYers books with clear illustrations and diagrams. But they can't show you how to set a particular softeners settings. I think that's what those trying to help are aiming at.

Wouldn't that help more readers?
Yes, that could helpful, but without valuable information, most of us will just be shooting into the dark. General questions will elicite general responses and clarity requests. Be very specific in your questions and we can manage more effectively.

What can they gain from reading about the exact hardness of my water?

My goodness, this is the crux of the whole matter when it comes to watetr treatment, installation and excellent results. You may have completely wasted your money if you bought, say a 2030s and your water is 60 grains per gallon. Imagine if we went through the whole installation process without determining that and your comes out like crap. That would be very irresponsible on our part and you would be livid at wastiong your time, money and patience. Sorry.

Or what kind of softener I SHOULD have purchased based on my water conditions?
Ditto above. There is no hidden agenda by asking pertinent questions. Your 'change of oil' analogy indicates that if someone is so unaware as how to change oil (rather basic car maintenance), then the responder is led to ask very basic questions on a similar level. Giving advice on partial or mistaken facts is not a wise thing to do.

Yes, the process is fairly standard but each piece of equipment is unique and MUST match the water quality as well as other very important conditions or you will be wasting your time, money, and patience.

Not sure if this helped. We are just trying to be responsible and focused.

Andy Christensen, CWS-II
 
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Old 08-07-08, 02:56 PM
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General questions will elicite general responses and clarity requests. Be very specific in your questions and we can manage more effectively.

I thought my questions were quite specific.

Can anyone offer advice on what kinds of questions I should ask an installer before allowing them to install the system and how much I might anticipate paying a plumber and/or Kinetico dealer to install the system?

That explains why I was frustrated with your first response. Your second response...

Well, you can ask him if he is licensed and have him show you a copy. You can ask him if he has experience with water softeners in general and Kinetico specifically. Does he know how to set the salt dosage? Does he ability to test water? Does he have parts to change or fix your particular equipment?

Ask him about building codes concerning discharge into the septic, field tiles, sump pump, air-gaps?

You can estimate between $55 and $75 per hour plus parts depending on your location in the country.


...was really very helpful info and the type of response I was hoping for. Thanks!

- Regarding the condition of my water, I recognize its importance TO ME…but doubt whether it would be interesting to the rest of the readers of the forum

- Regarding my "oil change" analogy, I agree that changing oil is pretty basic stuff (though shamefully not everyone knows how to do it). I gather from your comments that the questions I asked the forum were equally rudimentary, leaving you no alternative but to "dumb down" your response...

Nevertheless, communication IS a two way street! I am as much to blame for the misunderstanding. I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions.

I think I have what I need to proceed. Thanks again!
 
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Old 08-15-08, 02:11 PM
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Buyer Beware

Well, the system finally arrived. It is a Quad 51 and appeared to be in pretty good condition save the cracked base on one of the tanks, which really only kept it from standing up on its own.

I elected to have Kinetico install it and the guy just left. They quoted a trip charge of $85 and $58.50 per hour for labor...or so I thought... When I got the bill, it turned out to be $58.50 per HALF hour! He was here for 3.5 hours and installed $140 in parts. With the trip charge and tax, the total came to a whopping $650. Now I remember why I wanted to hire a plumber or do it myself...

Not only am I not happy with the way he piped it in, but also when he pressured up the system water started squirting out of a puncture hole in one of the carbon tanks...

Of course this is all part of the risk in buying online so...you win some, you lose some...

Now I'll have to do some searching to find a replacement carbon tank for a Quad 51 (and the carbon to fill it.) Before he left, the Kinetico installer started telling me how they would "help me out if they can". They will try to find a replacement tank, then they can sell me new carbon for it, bed it at the shop, then bring it over and install it for $117 per hour! (...and they won't even charge me a trip charge...) What a pal.

Anyone know where I can get a used tank? Even if I have to buy the tank from the local dealer, there's no way they're coming back to my house at that rate...

Thanks all.
 
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Old 09-10-08, 07:32 AM
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Talking I may can help you with your request

Like you, I got a used Quad-51 system. I have spoken with a local plumber and understand that my system was reconfigured to be only a water softener, thus I have two empty tanks (Carbon Tanks). I did ask for pricing to put new carbon in them and the price was $395. Needless to say, I'm prepared to install my softener and offer the two carbon tanks to you.....make an offer.
 
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Old 09-10-08, 08:53 AM
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Dont ya just love those plumbers? $58.50 per HALF hour. There should be a law that plumbers must charge by the HOUR. $117. per hour for a plumber is highway robbery. Was he carrying a gun and wearing a mask? Thiefs like that give all plumbers a bad rap.
 
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Old 09-10-08, 04:54 PM
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Originally Posted by vickibo25 View Post
Like you, I got a used Quad-51 system. I have spoken with a local plumber and understand that my system was reconfigured to be only a water softener, thus I have two empty tanks (Carbon Tanks). I did ask for pricing to put new carbon in them and the price was $395. Needless to say, I'm prepared to install my softener and offer the two carbon tanks to you.....make an offer.
Reconfigured. How by removing the carbon from the top tanks? I don't think that reconfigures it, you add carbon and it's back to where it started.

A plumber is not a good choice to rebuild a combination softener/filter.

If you're handy you can buy the carbon online or from a local water treatment dealer and install it yourself. Online it might cost $150 for 1.5 ft3 delivered by UPS. You may only need half that amount. Local dealers will cost more.

If you need instructions, I'm sure Andy can type up some for you and if not, I can. Basically you only have to remove (unscrew) the tank adapter from the tank without the control valve on it and then the control valve; in any order. Then pour in the right amount of carbon and cover it with water and reassemble. There backwash the carbon in each tank until the drain water runs clear.
 
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Old 09-10-08, 06:12 PM
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Originally Posted by steven15516 View Post
Dont ya just love those plumbers? $58.50 per HALF hour. There should be a law that plumbers must charge by the HOUR. $117. per hour for a plumber is highway robbery. Was he carrying a gun and wearing a mask? Thiefs like that give all plumbers a bad rap.
Ah but... He doesn't get to keep but maybe a third to if he's very lucky, a half of that $117 BEFORE taxes. He has large expenses to pay, like commercial auto insurance on his vehicle, the fuel/oil/filters/tires/brakes and other maintenance PLUS any monthly payment on a very expensive vehicle, the taxes on his inventory in the vehicle; after buying the supplies and materials to begin with so he doesn't have to leave the job to go buy something..., all his tools cost him thousands to tens of thousands. Any rent/mortgage/lease payments on a building along with maintenance on it and insurance (even if it is his garage/basement at home), electric, water, heat etc. etc. etc. and any advertising, clothes, office supplies, computer, printer etc. etc. etc. etc. and then a profit, and then a return on his investment of maybe $100k or more. Then if he's self employed he pays both the employer's share and then employee's share of the SS and FICA taxes AND, he gets no employee benefits unless HE buys them himself. And if he has any employees, he pays gobs more bucks. And you should consider that he probably doesn't work 8 hrs every day or, 40 hrs every week. And when he works over 8 or 40 hrs, he doesn't get anything for the overtime, and there are never any Christmas or other bonuses or paid vacation or sick days.

So... how much do you think he has left out of the $117/hr?

And I don't understand the difference between $58.50 and $117 per hour when it is the same $1.95/minute? Especially if he isn't charging travel time to and from the job site.

I am not a plumber but I have been a sole proprietor since 1972, minus about 5 years. I've never charged an hourly rate yet in 2008, $117/hr as a service plumber sounds low to very fair. Depending on where he does business, in a large urban area, he may not survive at that rate.
 
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Old 09-10-08, 06:30 PM
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Thank you Churlish.
People seem to forget the little things. If they don't make that kind of money, the think it's hiway robbery. There's alot more expences to running a business than $117.00 an hour.
 
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Old 09-10-08, 06:52 PM
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Very true Biermech.

I think our school system ought to be teaching every high school student the real facts of life; what it is like to run a small business.
 
 

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