Do I need a new Softener - Have Kinetico?

Discussion in 'Water Softener Forum, problems, installation and r' started by fatglide, Nov 21, 2009.

  1. fatglide

    fatglide New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    USA
    Long post, some background and advice needed....

    Bought a Quad 50 and RO from Kinetico dealer about 12 years ago, about $4K installed, shortly after I bought the house new.

    Within no time, I felt much better showers and the ice cubes were clear. I was a happy camper.

    About 9 mos later the RO shut down - it's apparently metered and this is what it does after 500 gallons (needed or not). I called them out to install new filters - $150 or $200 as I recall. I asked if I could do this myself after the second time, they said no problem, comes w/instructions etc.

    I bought filters next time at $50 or $60, they wanted to know if I wanted to be added to the "yearly reminder" to change filters. I was like :confused:

    About a year or 2 later the cubes were no longer clear - even after a new fridge.

    I had to have them come out a few times to check the quad 50. At only a couple years old it had to have a carbon rebed. They only charged me labor. Hardly trouble free to say the least.

    Last time they were out (don't recall what the problem was, Quad leaking or something) I told them I had to manually "twist the knob" to get water once in awhile. I was told to take apart the valve and clean it by the tech. I only clean the brine tank but the guy said it wouldn't be any problem for me to do it myself if I didn't want to pay $250 for them to do it.

    Then I noticed after a year of much RO usage, this thing didn't shut down and was making odd noises. I requested it be repaired under warranty and was told I didn't have a warranty from both the dealer and Kinetico due to

    "all service must be preformed by an authorized Kinetico technician only while the warranty period is in effect".

    Lucky me, I got 5 years out of them, they got another $1K+ out of me after this repair (good thing I was changing filters myself or it would have been double that)...

    I ended up sending the RO out of town to another dealer to fix under warranty. He said I needed all new filters and membrane @$250 - the filter head assy was replaced under warranty (so much for membranes being good for 10 years w/a whole house Quad 50).

    Since then, never have seen clear cubes and since the last time they serviced the Quad 50, we have to jump out of the shower a few times a year, run around the yard and twist the knob so we have water (guess a little dirt isn't going to filter itself out).

    Mail ordering filters has been a hit and miss proposition all along, gotta make 3 calls every time for the most part, tried 3 or 4 different dealers to boot. All the same frustration, at a slightly reduced cost vs the local dealer.

    About a year ago I opened up the tank to look at the bladder. It had all kinds of rubber residue on the inside walls. I like the design, looks like the bladder is replaceable. I cleaned it the best I could.

    So last month I needed filters again and figured I get a bladder too. No dice, gotta buy the whole tank. No prob, send filters and tank, $150....

    Except after 3 calls to one dealer, we'll get it right out, never showed, called a 2 or 3rd time as usual, "let me check the price and I'll get back to you", I gave up. Called 2 or 3 more dealers, never got a return call.

    Kinetico dealers want to soak you (pun intended), not for the DIY'er. Only took me 10 years to figure that one out. And to think, I thought Harley was bad, Harley is GREAT in comparison :eek:

    I finally gave up on this thing and tossed it out the window, got a 5 stage RO w/filmtec membrane and permeate pump. Supposed to be a great membrane and w/permeate pump much more efficient - less water waste, better pressure to the fridge. Got a set of filters too, all for $250. Google airwaterice (I'm a reefkeeper as well). I had a bad pump out of the box, they got a new one right out. They claim lifetime warranty on all parts (not that there is many) filters get changed 1X year, membrane every 3-5 years. I hope the service stays good - everyone that deals w/them says it is and will.

    Now you know what life is like owning a Kinetico.

    When it worked it seemed like it did a good job but I've learned consumers are probably better off with an "inferior" product with great service, than a "great" product with lousy service, no matter the cost - which is a double whammie w/Kinetico.

    With the valve being goofy and carbon, resin or whatever, at about the 10 year mark, I think it's time to throw this thing away too. I might tear it apart and see if I can clean it but want to be prepared to replace it if I have to buy parts.

    It's difficult to find active forms on the subject and even more confusing looking around for info. Seems *most* of the industry just wants to test water, tell you you're gonna die without owning what they're peddling.

    I don't mind the salt and the old dealer told me not to switch to potassium when I asked them about it (I'll take that w/a grain of salt (yet another pun) considering the treatment of the past).

    Salt free sounds good, catalytic converter on my water softener??? I don't like the idea of any electronics outside, near salt in an enclosed container that houses the whole mess. I also see "on demand" regeneration rather than timed - sounds more efficient.

    I called a local dealer that sells Warren Buffets stuff, sounded like Kinetico all over at first glance and $$$ quote for an RO. I think I'm gonna have to tackle this on my own, know that I can get parts at a reasonable cost and if by chance anyone can recommend a dealer that provides a good product with great service I'm willing to pay reasonable cost, let them do it from beginning to end.

    I'll do anything I need at this point except allow history to repeat itself.

    Suggestions for a guy in Dallas????

    TIA
  2. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    You sound like a DIYer and man you're from TEXAS! so why are you wanting to buy locally and be dependent on the local dealer (again) instead of buying online and being independent?

    BTW, your experience with Kinetico is normal. I've been hearing the same story for 5-6 yrs from people all across the country.

    As an online dealer I sell many softeners in Texas. I suggest a Clack WS-1 control valve on a correctly sized softener based on your family size, the number of bathrooms and the type of fixtures in them. Click below for more on all that.
  3. fatglide

    fatglide New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    USA
    I'm not necessarily wanting to buy locally. I *can* be a DIY'er and will if I need.

    I buy mucho on-line, pet meds, hobby stuff, you name it, it's my first choice.

    I've looked at the clack, your site....

    I prefer not to have regeneration take place based on time but rather than need, plus I'm not very fond of electronics around salt as I said.

    I'm not opposed with some bleeding edge stuff that *makes sense* accompanied with great service and am willing to spend $$$. If Kenitco said, buy it and have a 10 year warranty, we'll fix anything at no charge and it cost $2K or $4K, they'd have me.

    I looked at pics of the clack - too much corrosion IMHO after time.

    I'd like to see something, someone has come up with w/a long term warranty that rivals the high $$$ competition.

    On the other side of the coin, if China came up w/a system like Kinetco, that sells at Wally World for $42, as ahamed as I would be, I'd buy 10 of them without a warranty and replace as needed (I have no idea why this hasn't already happened - they clone everything else)..

    MIT does have a system that appears to work great, can make water from *ANYTHING* for $220,000. I'll let them work on that more.

    Let me tell you what I want....

    Little or no water waste (I'm thinking of how I can pump my brine from the RO back into the water supply), a little salt is OK and when the power goes out, if I have pressure, I still get water, and a lifetime warranty that someone makes enough profit to be there when you need them.

    The *REAL* problem comes in when you realize, if it doesn't "eat", you aren't gonna make any $$$.

    Same reason there is no cures for the junk in the water - no money in that.

    With all due respect, of course.

    My options are still open and $$$ are available. Just because I DYI, doesn't mean I won't spend for the right product and service.

    Make sense?
  4. nhmaster

    nhmaster Master Plumber

    Messages:
    3,189
    Location:
    S. Maine
    Fleck has been making quality, reliable, non electronic valve heads for many years that will give you many years of trouble free service. I like Clack equipment and if I was so disposed might take the trouble to argue with you about electronics and salt, but you seem to have made up your mind and that's ok. So anyhooo, like I was saying Fleck makes a very reliable product that will serve you well for years to come.
  5. Bob999

    Bob999 In the Trades

    Messages:
    448
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    You said: "I don't like the idea of any electronics outside, near salt in an enclosed container that houses the whole mess."

    Unless you buy a single cabinet softener like those sold ad Sears, Lowes, etc the salt is contained in a separate container and the control head sits on top of the resin tank out in the air. The materials used in the control heads of Clack and Fleck valves is thermoplastic, or in the case of some Fleck valves, brass and stainless steel. The only components potentially subject to corrosion are the electrical components. If you have a dry, inside location for the softener corrosion is simply not a problem in my experience with modern units that put the salt in a separate container.

    You also said: "I'd like to see something, someone has come up with w/a long term warranty that rivals the high $$$ competition."

    My view is that one of the major problems with long term warranties is that you don't know if the entity behind the warranty will be here to honor it down the road. Both Fleck and Clack warranty their heads for 5 years and will probably be around that long but the warranty is parts only from the manufacturer. Unless you do it yourself that still leaves you with the labor cost and a local dealer is less likely, in my view, to be around to honor whatever labor warranty you may find.

    Additionally, if you buy a water softener from an online dealer like Gary Slusser you aren't going to end up spending anything like $4000--probably less than a $1000 for a softener alone.

    One final comment--you indicated that the Kinetico unit had a mixed bed. My view is that if you replace the unit you would be better off if you avoid a mixed bed in the future. If you need both softening and carbon filtering then buy a softener and a carbon filter as separate units.
  6. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    It's been a long number of years since I sold a time based control valve on a softener. Otherwise I haven't sold a softener without a metered/demand initiated control valve for maybe 20 years, so what are you talking about "based on time"?

    The Clack WS-1 that I sell regenerates based on gallons used with metered delayed regeneration and metered immediate regeneration with calendar override and variable reserve. That's all based on gallons used.

    A two tank softener control valve is not going to corrode because it is not around salt. The salt is in an all but sealed salt tank that is a number of feet away and lower than the control valve by a couple feet.

    Amazing, especially after you have had them take you once for $4-5,000 in barelt 10 years but... where are you seeing "bleeding edge" softeners?

    You must be confused, there is nothing on a Clack that can corrode. So show us pictures of what you think is a corroded Clack, or post a link to where you saw it. And if you are going to use a softener outside without cover, order the (usually $25) outdoor cover for it.

    I'll tell you what I'll do, I'll charge you $3k and give you a complete set of spare parts (there's 6 replaceable parts on a Clack WS-1; motor, piston, stack [seals spacers], meter turbine, circuit board and power cable) and a complete (new) spare control valve and by pass valve.

    I have a Clack WS-1 twin version that puts Kinetico or Fleck twins to shame. Delivered price less than $2500 depending on the size needed; which can be up to 21" x 65" tanks (7.5 cuft each), I hear that Kinetico doesn't go over 2.25 cuft.

    No you aren't making sense to me, I don't follow "eat" or "no cures for the junk in the water", and as you told us in your first post, there is no such thing as a "lifetime warranty".
  7. fatglide

    fatglide New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    USA
    My salt is contained in a separate container. I do store salt on top of the container as well *some* of the time. As you can see in the pics I posted, there is corrosion, mostly noticeable in the aluminum housing that supposed to protect everything from the elements and rain. Looks more like I don't want one, it's keeping all the "bad stuff" in.

    Nothing personal but this statement makes little sense to me - nothing personal. Considering the state of our economy, next year there may not be any Kinetico, Fleck, Clack, Chase Morgan, BofA, Kmart, Sears, Farmers, Allstate, GM, Chrysler or otherwise. All we can do is look at the history of a dealer or manufacturer and access our opinion of longevity of a business and good faith. Nothing stops anyone from saying bankrupt, warranty void, or not covered under warranty. That being said, if there's only a one year warranty, I don't care how long in business, how good the product, it's not for me in this case.

    I have no idea what this thing is or what's in it. Again I do know they said they put in new carbon. They might have called it wrong and replaced the resin or whatever.The reason I'm posting here is to gather insight of the various issues I raise, looking for response based on experience. The clue I got from you is there could be 2 parts I need to consider, not just one???

    I'm not sure what I mean "based on time", I only know Kinetico. If we don't do anything based on time, why do I see an electronic clock on a water conditioner? Again, I'm here to learn.

    Again, see my pics posted, any valve isn't going to be a number of feet away and height has nothing to do with salt in moisture or air in an enclosure as a picture is worth a thousand words.

    You think Kinetco is the first to "take" me? I've bought Chevys, refrigerators all sorts of thing that weren't worth a fraction on what was paid and we all get "taken" in those cases.

    "Bleeding edge softners, water conditioners are everywhere - catalytic convertors, no salt, combination of hard and precious metals the list goes on beyond my memory, seems everywhere you look somebody's got something someone has never thought about. Again, I'm here to sort the steak from the sizzle!

    I have no Idea what you posted but it's scary to me (covers don't seem to help my situation)...

    [​IMG]

    Hummm, that doesn't SOUND like a better deal than a new Kinetco at $2K with a 7 year warranty. I understand what you're saying tho - LOL.

    I have no idea what the cuft is for or why I need to know at this point. What I do know is Kinetco cost 2X what its worth and given that I'll fix what I have *VERY* reluctantly for a grand or find something that does the same thing for less.

    The first part of what you didn't quote me on should be understandable. Sorry to be vague on the part you did quote me on.

    Problem:Eat = (ie) flashlights eat batteries, batteries is where you make $. Whatever you make, it must "eat" or you don't have a vertical market and "guaranteed" future income.

    So, real question, what does a conditioner/softener (not even sure what I need to be calling it) eat (don't say salt, that comes from Home Depot). If the answer is "nothing", from a business perspective, that's a problem. If the answer is circuit boards after 5 years, I'm OK w/that, just want to know the "game".

    Problem:Cures: I won't go into a long tin-foil debate. Fluoride was added to our water some time ago, we need it for our teeth all of a sudden after a few hundred million years without. Now there are studies linking this to Alzheimer's. Theres no $$ in removing flouride from water for the pharmaceuticals and those they grease. What if we all knew 1 aspirin a day would prevent heart disease? Never gonna happen, true or not, no money in aspirin. I'm no troofer but let's not forget, it's all about the $$$.

    Where in my post did I say there's no such thing as a lifetime warranty? As stated, I just bought a RO w/lifetime warranty. Not much to go wrong and again, nothing says one couldn't say "warranty void from abuse", "that part isn't covered after all", etc, etc, etc.

    This is not about water, processing, technology, it's about trust, experience and knowledge of those intimate in the field of the subject and folks views as consumers. I *AM* looking for every reason in the world to replace this thing with something!

    FYI: There is a hole in the concrete and ground dug out to accommodate the Quad 50 in the enclosure.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
  8. nhmaster

    nhmaster Master Plumber

    Messages:
    3,189
    Location:
    S. Maine
    First off, Kinetico is not crap. The equipment is a good as anyons. The problem arises with their propriatary service in which you cant get parts or work on the thing yourself. If I were you, I would have your unit serviced again rather than re-do the whole system.
  9. Bob999

    Bob999 In the Trades

    Messages:
    448
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    You would probably get a lot less corrosion if you provided some ventilation for that hole in the ground with a metal cover that you have put your softener in.
  10. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    I don't see any pictures previous to this post of yours.

    That corrosion in the picture is not due to salt in the salt tank feet away and feet below the control valve, or salty air or humidity etc..

    It is from a leaking piston stem o-ring and/or worn Teflon coating on the piston's stem that leaks a small amount of water only when the piston moves in/out during a regeneration.

    When the piston gets back to the Service position, there is no leak. The valve could work fine like that for many years and I've seen many do just that.

    I have sold many Fleck valves and serviced many of them on Culligan and many other brands of softeners and filters for the last 24 years now and 18 years I sold next to nothing but Fleck valves. And that valve could have been repaired (with a new piston, end cap and a new seals and spacers kit) for less than $200 including say $75 for a service call charge. I've done it many times.

    Here is a picture of the front of that control valve, it's a Culligan. A Kinetico salesman posted the same picture here from various views awhile ago. He has been banned from here and all his posts deleted a month or so ago. He made the same claim you are; he said the corrosion was from salt, salt air etc. and that the Clack would corrode too, which is not possible because the only metal part is the motor housing cover.
    .

    Attached Files:

  11. fatglide

    fatglide New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    USA
    You posted that pic in another thread, I have no idea what I'm looking at or why I see corrosion, all I know is there's plenty of it.

    You get banned for saying salt corrodes here????

    Well anyway, you've convinced me it might not be a big deal even though I see metal, (probably) copper wire and connectors, motor, switches and who knows what else. I'll have to live w/it, perhaps look at a Fleck because it might suit me better??????

    Again, why does one need a clock? What programming needs to take place and why if it regenerates based on use?

    Anyone know the details of what I have and what would be comparable? I don't understand why I have 2 tanks and many only have one.

    A table comparison of heads, units, howto pick a system and cost would be handy, you know something educational.

    I might have to take Peter Griffins advice and readdress it again in 12 years, all I'm really getting is picked apart (altough suggesting a vent might be something to consider is constructive), when all I'm really asking is what is the difference between these things, which is better and why.

    I'm just trying to learn here.
  12. Bob999

    Bob999 In the Trades

    Messages:
    448
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    With a single tank system there is no soft water available when the unit regenerates. So the typical "demand" system has a water meter that measures water usage to determine when water usage reaches a point that regeneration is necessary. The clock is used to do the regeneration at a time of day, typically 2 AM, when there is no water usage. Programming tells the head information needed to regenerate at the correct time and includes information like the resin capacity of the system, the salt dose used during regeneration, the hardness of the water being treated, etc. The specific programming necessary differs with different brands/models. You can find manuals online (at least for the non-proprietary units) that describe the programming for a particular model head. The Kinetico unit you presently have is "programmed" with changable hardware components.

    With a twin tank system, such as the unit you presently have, only one tank is typically "in service" providing soft water. When the meter indicates the capacity of that tank has been used it goes into regeneration and the other tank goes into service. Thus there is always soft water available. An additional advantage of a twin tank system, particularly with problem water, is that the entire regeneration process is done with softened water. The downside of twin tank systems is somewhat greater complexity in the valve and higher cost--because the valve is more expensive and because there are two resin tanks/resin loads instead of one.

    After seeing the picture of your installation I see why you are concerned about corrosion. Unless you modify the housing to provide ventilation--and the ventilation effectively reduces the humidity--I think you would be better off avoiding any electronics and to stick with the Kinetico unit you presently have as suggested by Peter Griffin.

    As to which is better--I am not aware of objective published data that demonstrates there is a best brand head. There is a fair amount of anecdotal data that the heads used on softeners sold at big box stores are not particularly reliable or durable. My personal opinion is that Fleck, Clack, Autotrol (GE), Kinetico, and many other proprietary brands have quality control heads. There are big differences in price between the widely available non-proprietary brands (Fleck, Clack, and Autotrol) and the proprietary brands that, in my opinion do not reflect differences in quality or performance. Thus I have a preference for the non-proprietary brands--Fleck and Clack in particular.
  13. nhmaster3015

    nhmaster3015 Master Plumber

    Messages:
    836
    Location:
    The granite state
    Which is better and why?

    Well that would be the product that I sell ;)
  14. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    When a twin tank softener is regenerating a tank, you get soft water through the tank in service but, you also share your water flow with the drain water gpm of the regeneration. That reduces your pressure and the volume of water you have to use.

    That metered capacity is a programmed/calculated capacity, it is not a 100% of the maximum capacity of the volume and type of resin if it were regenerated at the maximum salt dose lbs..

    That additional advantage of a twin tank softener, the regenerating with softened water thing, it uses capacity that requires salt to provide it. And that capacity is used every regeneration of each tank.

    That used capacity is about the same as the reserve capacity that a two tank uses, and if the twin tank softener regenerates more frequently than a two tank softener does; usually once every 7 or so days, the salt used to provide the twin tank capacity to regenerate each tank is higher than the salt used for the reserve capacity of a regular softener. That's due to most twin tank softeners regenerating a tank each day or every other day.

    So the claim of a twin tank softener being more salt efficient isn't reality in most cases. And if you total up the amount of water used per regeneration, and compare it to the water used by a two tank softener on a weekly basis, the twin usually will use more.

    Millions of two tank/regular softeners, what you call a single tank, do not regenerate with softened water and have no problems, even with "problem water".

    For more comparison between these two types of softeners go here.
    http://www.qualitywaterassociates.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=309
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