Author Topic: Tell me about Your Water Softener.  (Read 1128 times)

NextTime

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Tell me about Your Water Softener.
« on: April 15, 2021, 09:11:35 AM »
So I had my 21 year-old water heater replaced this morning and asked the plumbers about installing a water softener. He quoted me about $1,000 to install it, if I provided the water softener.  My water main is not really in a good spot, and nowhere near the utility room and nearest drain. He said it's important to keep it near a drain.

I've never tested the water, but my city is known to have hard water and I can see the buildup on most of the faucets. A shower head I installed about 6 months ago already has a significant buildup.

From some old posts, I saw some people mention the Water Boss. It's currently less than $400 at Home Depot. What are some other brands/models some of you have and would recommend? What should I look for and what should I avoid?




 

phildonnia

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Re: Tell me about Your Water Softener.
« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2021, 12:09:46 PM »
I  just got a new GE water softener to replace my old GE water softener.  I'm pretty happy with the line, except for clever part called a "venturi" which seemed to break every two years or so.

I don't know about the Water Boss, but the GE recommended a drain within 30 feet.  And it was about 30 feet from the corner of my garage near the water to the drain in the laundry room. I suspect the only reason a nearby drain is important is that you don't have to figure out how to route 30 feet of tubing across your garage.

I don't remember exactly the cost for the installation of the first water softener, but I think it was roughly in line with what you are being quoted.  I remember getting some cheaper estimates where they suggested doing things like draining onto the driveway or install it in the front yard.

Amateur tip: I asked the installer if I could "apprentice" for the installation, and he was absolutely thrilled with the idea.  Had me measure and cut pipes, and solder a few joints.  He told me about codes and general plumbing theory and was excited enough about his trade that he didn't seem to care that he was helping his own future competition.  Sure enough, I installed the next water softener myself (using most of the existing plumbing but with some changes to accomodate a different inlet height).
« Last Edit: April 15, 2021, 01:08:36 PM by phildonnia »

the_hobbitish

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Re: Tell me about Your Water Softener.
« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2021, 04:35:04 PM »
I suggest getting a model that does metered usage instead of timed. Basically you want a unit that runs its conditioning cycle based on the amount of water you use and not one that does it every 7 days no matter what. That way you save money by using less salt and water (for the flush cycle).

Greystache

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Re: Tell me about Your Water Softener.
« Reply #3 on: April 16, 2021, 07:57:59 AM »
My water softener has been in a landfill for 25 years. I had a water softener when I moved in to my house. It was unreliable and a PITA to maintain. I removed it and decided to try to live without one. Yes, I had some mineral build-up on my faucets, but annual cleaning with weak acid (vinegar or citric acid) takes care of that for a fraction of the time and money it takes to operate a water softener.  The biggest problem was the dishwasher. I had lots of problems with mineral build up and etching and spotting of glassware. I now use a product called Lemi Shine (granulated citric acid). I add about a teaspoon to every load and no more problems. Again, it is way easier and cheaper than running and maintaining a water softener.

zolotiyeruki

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Re: Tell me about Your Water Softener.
« Reply #4 on: April 16, 2021, 09:52:50 AM »
I suggest getting a model that does metered usage instead of timed. Basically you want a unit that runs its conditioning cycle based on the amount of water you use and not one that does it every 7 days no matter what. That way you save money by using less salt and water (for the flush cycle).
Agreed on this point 100%.  You can find out from  your local water utility how hard your water is.  Ours is a whopping 13.3gpg.

I bought a used water softener several years ago and installed it myself.  Like OP's, my water main is quite a distance from the utility room, so I had to reroute some of the plumbing, but it wasn't too bad.  I spent $80 on the used water softener and about $200 for the rest of the plumbing materials, and did it over a couple of Saturdays.  For us, it has been totally worth it.  Dishes and clothes are cleaner, showers don't immediately frost over with mineral deposits, soap and shampoo lather and clean way better, and all our fixtures don't crust over or clog.

Other than filling it with salt every once in a while, it has been maintenance-free.

Water softeners are sized based on how much hardness they can remove before regenerating.   So a 30,000 grain softener can soften about 2,200 gallons of our 13.3gpg water before it'll regenerate.  Getting a "bigger" water softener just means it will regenerate less often, and IMO, it's not worth the extra cost unless you're using so much water that you'd be regenerating every couple days.

phildonnia

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Re: Tell me about Your Water Softener.
« Reply #5 on: April 16, 2021, 10:00:49 AM »
Etching of glass in the dishwasher is definitely something to be aware of if you're considering a water softener. 

We don't have that much glass, so it's not that big of a problem.  The nice stuff gets washed by hand.  The baking dishes we just live with them getting cloudy over time. 

Some other general concerns for any brand of water softener:
  • Where are the necessary minerals in your diet coming from?  You normaly get a significant amount from water, unless it's been softened.
  • The salt that ends up in the water is usually not a significant amount of Sodium, but some people may be concerned about this for health reasons.  You can use Potassium in the water softener instead, but it's about five times the price.
  • Again, not a significant amount of salt in the water, and it is not harmful to plants.  But if your water softener is in line with your yard irrigation, and you have poor drainage, then it can build up over time and ruin the soil.  This is a problem in areas with clay soil and low rainfall, like most of California.
  • The waste brine that is flushed into the sewer can end up in local waterways, having a detrimental effect on the environment.  Some jurisdictions have restrictions on the use of self-regenerating water softeners for this reason.  (You can still use the "tank exchange" water softeners, but this is an expensive service)

NextTime

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Re: Tell me about Your Water Softener.
« Reply #6 on: April 16, 2021, 10:09:20 AM »
Thanks everyone.

I know Water Boss was mentioned a few times in the past on this site so was hoping to hear some reviews from those who may have one.
I'm interested in knowing what other brands people have been running, and how they are working out.

@zolotiyeruki What Brand/model did you buy? Almost maintenance free sounds good to me.

Fishindude

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Re: Tell me about Your Water Softener.
« Reply #7 on: April 16, 2021, 01:53:08 PM »
+1 For getting the type of softener that only runs as needed, based on water usage.
The type on timers are much cheaper, but they continue to cycle and waste water and salt, even if you are not there.     In this area not Kinetico and Culligan  make good equipment as well as the cheap timer type.
Water Rite is another good brand.

zolotiyeruki

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Re: Tell me about Your Water Softener.
« Reply #8 on: April 17, 2021, 06:53:08 PM »
@zolotiyeruki What Brand/model did you buy? Almost maintenance free sounds good to me.
We have a Morton System Saver (model M27), but pretty much any model of water softener will be basically maintenance-free other than occasionally filling it with salt.

Le Poisson

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Re: Tell me about Your Water Softener.
« Reply #9 on: April 30, 2021, 11:14:59 AM »
I have had water softeners in the past. I have seen no great advantage to them. We usually ended up forgetting to refill the salt, or just tearing them out. We've never missed them after removal. None of our appliances have suffered.

yachi

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Re: Tell me about Your Water Softener.
« Reply #10 on: April 30, 2021, 11:57:42 AM »
I have had water softeners in the past. I have seen no great advantage to them. We usually ended up forgetting to refill the salt, or just tearing them out. We've never missed them after removal. None of our appliances have suffered.

Speaking of forgetting to refill the salt, my experience with water softeners was limited to being woken up by the one my parents had.  It knew the time of day because it was set to regenerate at 2:00 am when no one was using the water.  At 2:00 am on a school night, when it realized it was low on salt, it would send out an alarm to wake the dead.  Not all the dead, mind you, just the one with a bedroom on the same floor.  I don't know why it couldn't save its alarm for daytime...

NextTime

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Re: Tell me about Your Water Softener.
« Reply #11 on: April 30, 2021, 04:56:44 PM »
I have had water softeners in the past. I have seen no great advantage to them. We usually ended up forgetting to refill the salt, or just tearing them out. We've never missed them after removal. None of our appliances have suffered.

I'd imagine your location plays a big part in that.

I live in an "Extremely Hard" area of the country.

https://homewater101.com/articles/hard-water-across-us

Le Poisson

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Re: Tell me about Your Water Softener.
« Reply #12 on: May 01, 2021, 02:09:51 PM »
I have had water softeners in the past. I have seen no great advantage to them. We usually ended up forgetting to refill the salt, or just tearing them out. We've never missed them after removal. None of our appliances have suffered.

I'd imagine your location plays a big part in that.

I live in an "Extremely Hard" area of the country.

https://homewater101.com/articles/hard-water-across-us

Considering that I have had 7 houses in 3 different communities, both on well and city water, I suspect it is more that IDGAF about the calcium in my water. FWIW, I also can't tell the difference between a $10 bottle of wine and a $50 bottle of wine, so this is just another spot where I choose not to spend my money.

the_hobbitish

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Re: Tell me about Your Water Softener.
« Reply #13 on: May 01, 2021, 05:49:55 PM »
I have an electric kettle that I use to heat water for coffee everyday. My water is so hard that it started growing stalagmites off the bottom. I don't care about drinking hard water, but I imagine that kind of calcium build up would definitely mess with appliances along with making soap work less effectively. It also leaves a noticeable residue on pots/pans/the shower etc.

Morning Glory

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Re: Tell me about Your Water Softener.
« Reply #14 on: May 01, 2021, 07:45:07 PM »
I dump a bag of salt in it every 2-3 months. No idea what kind it is or how it works. I just dump in the salt.

If you have an RO you need a softener because hard water will wear out the membrane. That's all I know about them, really.

hydra

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Re: Tell me about Your Water Softener.
« Reply #15 on: May 01, 2021, 10:15:31 PM »
We've had a Kinetico for over a year. It's working well. The hard water was ruining our appliances, clothing, and hair texture. Problem solved.

foghorn

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Re: Tell me about Your Water Softener.
« Reply #16 on: May 02, 2021, 01:36:53 PM »
I have a water softener here and it seems quite necessary as the water is very hard.  I have been in the home for over 11 years and the softener was here when I moved in.  I do not know if the softener was original to the home (home is 19 years old).  I keep waiting for the unit to die.

Over the past 9 months or so I have started to use a product called Out - Heavy Duty Water Softener Cleaner.  It is a liquid that I pour in each time I add a bag of salt.  It seems to be working as the water is softer now that it has been in the past.  Hoping that using this stuff will extend the life of the unit.

Water Heaters here in my area are another story.  They last about 6 years.  In my area - seeing plumbers swapping out water heaters is a regular occurrence. 

uniwelder

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Re: Tell me about Your Water Softener.
« Reply #17 on: June 08, 2021, 06:22:10 AM »
@dcozad999 I bought a water boss softener a few months ago, but just got it installed yesterday.  I knew our water was very hard, but didn't know the numbers until testing it.  I can't tell you anything about the long term, but for setup/installation, here's what I found out.
1) I also bought the water boss based on recommendations from this site--- happy MMM users, regenerates based on usage, price, small size.
2) It comes with test strips for hardness and ph.  Mine was about 20 gpg and 9 ph-- pretty ridiculously high.
3) For hookup, the inlet/outlet is a plastic 1" male pipe connection.  The installation manual never actually specs that out.  I bought a flexible stainless connector specifically advertised for water softeners, because apparently they're the only thing that actually uses 1".  Not sure why they don't just use 3/4", same as the water heater and regular water supply lines.

Have you done anything about your hard water yet?  Last posting here was a month ago.

NextTime

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Re: Tell me about Your Water Softener.
« Reply #18 on: June 22, 2021, 08:04:41 AM »
Sorry. Been awhile.

I have not done anything about the water softener yet.
We have spent quite a bit of money lately. Put in a couple of patios, ridiculous patio furniture, electrical work. I guess we had to spread around that stimulus money.

I will probably look back into it in a few months.


cheapbarb

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Re: Tell me about Your Water Softener.
« Reply #19 on: July 10, 2021, 11:36:36 PM »
I'm also looking for water softener advice. Our water is only mildly hard at 7 gpg, but it drives me nuts. Are the big box store models like Whirlpool and A.O. Smith a waste of money? Has anyone bought one that turned into a mechanical nightmare? dcozad999, I hope you don't mind my jumping onto your thread like this. But I also want to find out what is snake oil and what is not.

zolotiyeruki

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Re: Tell me about Your Water Softener.
« Reply #20 on: July 11, 2021, 10:20:02 AM »
I can offer only an anecdote. We bought our softener used, and once I disassembled the motor and added some lubrication to unstick it (it had sat unused for several years), it has been hands-off reliable. It is Morton branded.