Hmmm…this goes against my frugal nature.
The plumbing company I use builds their own water softeners from “first quality components”. They don’t just resell someone else’s units. They warranty the electronics for 5 years, and the tank/resin for 10. And they even admitted that there is almost never a failure in those time frames. A bit over 5-grand, including labor. They also size the softener for the house (i.e. they assume every faucet is on when scaling for demand; most units quote however many GPM of soft water, and everything above that will be hard(er)).
I sniffed around, and that price actually isn’t out of line with other water conditioning companies. But it is a lot more than if I bought a unit at HD and installed it myself (assuming I don’t have to sweat copper, otherwise I’d have to pay someone to install it).
Our unit is nearing end of life. About 16 years or so. I last measured the water a couple years ago, and it is still soft. But not SOFT. Probably a bit more hardness than it should be.
You used to be able to get water softeners from Sears for abt $400. They usually work fine. But there are several designs. The cheap ones regenerate by pumping salt through the resin bed at night and rinsing thoroughly (using a timer). But no soft water during regeneration.
They do make dual resin bed softeners that switch to the other resin bed while the first one regenerates.
And you have to remember to add salt pellets to the hopper.
Most people only soften the water to the hot water heater. Thats where hard water can deposit solids when heated. Some think the softened water tastes a little salty. (The softener removes calcium and magnesium and replaces it with sodium, which some think can be a problem for low salt diets.) So cold water (not softened) is preferred for cooking and drinking. (But soft is easily available if you want it.)
You can get fully deionized water (no sodium) if you like, but that usually requires a service like Culligan to bring in regenerated resin tanks.
if I bought a unit at HD and installed it myself (assuming I don’t have to sweat copper, otherwise I’d have to pay someone to install it).
I know nothing about water softeners, I’ve never had one, but if sweating a copper line is all that’s holding you back from doing it yourself, I’ve found no instance where a Shark press-to-fit fitting doesn’t work just as well. I’ve been using them for years and have yet to have a failure of any kind, even on ones I’ve taken off and re-used.
I’ve found no instance where a Shark press-to-fit fitting doesn’t work just as well. I’ve been using them for years and have yet to have a failure of any kind, even on ones I’ve taken off and re-used.
I read a website discussion with some old plumbing contractors about sharkbite fittings.
The consensus was-
‘external to the wall (behind a washer, inside a vanity or under the sink, okay’
‘inside a finished wall where they cannot be periodically inspected, maybe not the greatest idea.’
Fitting pipe and sweating copper does take a little bit of practice, but to me the secure feeling knowing there are no seals to fail is worth the extra effort.
Don’t think we want DI water. We use that in my company (semiconductors). That will actually leach minerals from anything it comes into contact with. Water likes holding minerals. Probably not good for plumbing.
Yes, we have to add salt. I use crystals instead of pellets because pellets have binders to make the pellets, and I’m told that has to be cleaned out occasionally. The crystals are just NaCl crystals.
I’m just trying to figure out if it’s worth the extra money. I would expect HD or Lowes to carry mediocre units. Not great, but not bad. They seem to be priced from $600-1000. The plumber says that what they install won’t have to be looked at again for 10 years. There is some appeal to that.
Phoenix water is very hard, and apparently that is hard on appliances and fittings.
Re: water softeners
I guess the difference between $1,000 for DIY with a couple shark fittings and $5,000 from your installer would be enough to entice me to research a lot further. I’d look for reliability stats from Consumer Reports or elsewhere, for instance. And I wouldn’t be terribly worried about the consumer grade stuff that HD or Lowe’s sell; they don’t want the stuff coming back either. (Presumably those come with some sort of warrantee so you’re paying a lot for the extra few years.)
As I say I[ve never had a leak with a shark fitting and I’ve used dozens of them (really). That doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen, but they’ve been approved by international building code and plumbers’ code so it seems they must be kinda sorta OK. I started using them in spots where it was tough to sweat a fitting, like right next to a wood joist or between an HVAC and wall, but they’re so easy I use them for almost everything anymore.
I especially like them when I’m going from one medium to another: copper to pex or PVC to pipe or whatever. Easy peasy.
Anyway, good luck. I hate the taste of “softened water”, but I’ve never had to live with it, just had it relatives’ houses.
Isnt a water softener basically a large tank of rock salt that filters your hard well water? $5G seems steep.
No. It doesn’t filter. It’s a chemical/ion exchange, replacing Ca with Na (the Na coming from salt, yes). That’s the simple version. It’s probably a bit more than that, but that’s the essence.
Ca is hard (no pun intended) on plumbing, appliances that are hooked up to water, and even clothes (so I understand).
Yes, it seems a bit steep to me too. But I checked another company that only does water treatment (soft water and RO), and their pricing was about the same.
Having to replace 16 shutoff valves (most of them were frozen, and a few of them had visible corrosion) cost a good chunk of what the softener would have cost, and they claim it would have reduced/prevented the problem. Now that we have new shutoffs, supposedly we can alleviate future issues with the new softener.
Isnt a water softener basically a large tank of rock salt that filters your hard well water?
The softener itself doesn’t have any salt. It’s a pressurized tank/canister - most of the ones I know look a lot like the tanks for a oxy-acetylene torch. Inside the canister is beads/pellets that soften the water, grabbing the minerals as they pass by in the water. Then usually nearby there is the large tank of rock salt (or salt pellets) that is used to recharge the beads/pellets in the softener. During the recharge cycle, the main water supply bypasses the softener (so you still have water pressure in the house) - and some water goes through the salt tank, into the softener, bathing those beads/pellets in salt water, and on out to the drain. Once the recharge cycle is complete, the main water switches back to going through the softener. And now the beads are ready to grab more calcium, etc as it flows past.
My mom has well water and all I remember was having to buy these 80 lb bags of rock salt and carry them to the basement. But it’s been awhile…