Water softener selection - What's wrong with the big box varieties?

Old 01-30-10, 07:19 AM
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Water softener selection - What's wrong with the big box varieties?

Hey All,

I need to replace a kenmore water softener. the unit is about 15-20yrs old and stopped working over the summer. I was simply going to go to one of the big box stores and pick one up off the shelf (bigger is always better, right? ). Then I decided to come here first before making the trip. I have been skimming the posts and it seems like most people here avoid the big box off the shelf. why? Am I making a big mistake just going to pick up a 40,000 grain softener?

Also, given what i have been reading, I assume I should figure out what type of water i am dealing with. Any suggestions for the best way to go about testing/figuring out what the exact paramaters are that i am dealing with?

Old 01-30-10, 08:38 AM
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Some people prefer to hit the mountians on a TREK and Cannondale for $2000.00 and some are happy with a Murry or Huffy mountain bike found at WalMart for $89.00.

Customer satisfation is key but understanding the differences, features, benefits, reliability, durability, efficiency, and so on can turn that key a differwent direction. Moreover, water has different levels of importance to different people. Some couldn't be bothered and do as little as possible while others demand (and expect) quality.

I have recently been to a home where the owner said their softener has worked fine for many years, but yet there are old iron stains everywhere, massive scale build up and other obvious symptoms that show the softener hasn't worked for a very long time. When asked why he said it "works" he said: "well, it was using salt till recently"....Whew!

So when I am full bore down a steep mountian trail, I want my brakes to be there....

Andy Christensen, CWS-II
Old 01-30-10, 09:03 AM
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If I may add....

First...no water Pro...but here are a few observations.
Although yours worked fine for many years...I doubt a newer model will perform well for quite as long. As with almost anything, they just aren't designed and built to last that long. Heck, would you even be able to find a repair part in 5 yrs? There are still 50 y/o and older Sears table saws in use because they were built with common parts (motors, bearings, belts, etc), and they were constructed of solid metal parts. Many newer saws use an abundence or proprietary parts, not to mention lots of plastic, and they change every few years. I have a well reviewed brand name saw that has few if any major parts available, most need to be found on the 'Net from people parting theirs out...yet it's less than 10 years old!

Also...support...is there a local company that will be able to assist you if needed? Or will you be talking to a faceless voice on the phone?

After reading almost all the posts here for the last 2 yrs....I know I'd never go to Sears or HD for a water softener if needed.

I really don't know the Box store costs...but its pretty apparent from the Pro's here that in most cases (depending on the water of course) a good, functional, reliable, and efficient system can be purchased and self installed for less than $1000 and it will last as long as your last unit.
Old 01-31-10, 06:11 AM
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I've always said, "It's a crap shoot" when buying from the big box stores. For your Sears to last that long was pretty good. You may not be so luck next time. I have replaced them at only 3 years old. You can get a reliable system and spend about the same amount as you would spend at the big box store.

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