I could use some input on my water softener situation.

Discussion in 'Water Softener Forum, problems, installation and r' started by RobinFL, Sep 1, 2012.

  1. RobinFL

    RobinFL New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    Florida
    Hi,

    This post is lengthy, but I'm trying to give as much information as I can to give a clear picture of my situation. I have a residential well and had my water tested by the University of Florida with the following results (in parts per million):

    calcium = 45.5
    magnesium = 20.4
    hardness = 197.4
    iron = 0.0
    manganese = 0.0
    sodium = 10.0
    chloride = 9.2
    suspended solids = 0.0
    and pH = 7.6

    I'm looking for a water softening solution and also a reverse osmosis system for the kitchen.

    Additional information: years ago I suffered a spinal cord injury which left me wheelchair-bound and unable to perform maintenance on any of the stuff myself. That being the case, I basically need a service to maintain the unit. There are three people in our household however, my wife wastes a lot of water in the kitchen and I take a lot longer shower than the norm. Also, occasionally we have company staying with us a week or two at a time.

    I called Culligan and was shown their high-efficiency metered unit complete with a wireless remote to be able to control the unit without going outside.
    http://www.culligan.com/uploadedFil...ofteners/HE_Softener_OwnersGuide_01021076.pdf

    Now going into this I knew whatever they had would cost a lot more than what I could buy elsewhere, but I was thinking I would be getting a better quality product with good service, warranty and a company to fall back on that would be there years down the road.

    The sales rep gave me a price for the above softener which he said was a 30,000 grain softener which would take care of all my softening needs. They also offer a "platinum" package for $150 a year which covers an inspection of the unit every other month, salt included, free maintenance on parts and labor for as long as you keep paying with the first year included in the price.

    Since then I've been trying to do research on what I was told and am getting confused. I downloaded the user manual and don't fully understand the specs. I wasn't told which size unit I was quoted (outside of 30,000 grain) and called back to find it's the 9 inch/1 ft.³ model. The sales rep wrote down 10 gpg of hardness which is more like 11.5 by my calculations and I used an online calculator which recommended a minimum of 1.5 ft.³ of resin.

    With their proprietary reverse osmosis system the total price is around $4500 and I'm wondering if I would be better off with the larger unit, just how much I'd be getting screwed and what others would recommend given my situation? Any input is appreciated.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Messages:
    1,839
    Location:
    Ontario California
    Where in Florida are you, I have many companies that can help you. Culligans $150 per year sevice is actually not bad at, but the initial cost will negate this as being a good price. I guarantee you the price they quoted you is highly negotiable, but even so, consider getting some other prices. According to my calculations, you should use 8 bags of salt per year, considering the delivery costs, etc. that is $15 per bag, but you will also never have to pay for a service call, parts, maintenance, etc. Please move forward with an offer like this with extreme caution, read the contracts carefully, and push them hard with questions. Get anything they say in writing, and not from the sales guy, but from their regional manager. Buyer beware on something like this.

    I would also recommend researching the long term financial viability of any company that is offering a long term contract.
  3. RobinFL

    RobinFL New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    Florida
    Thanks for the reply and the advice. I live near Tampa.

    What do you think about the sizing they recommended? With more resin does that just mean more time between recharge cycles? The sales rep didn't go into the different sizes within the high-efficiency model and I noticed the 9 inch/1 ft.³ is the smallest.
  4. Tom Sawyer

    Tom Sawyer In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,175
    Location:
    Maine
    You might want to look into Kinetico while your are at it.
  5. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Messages:
    1,839
    Location:
    Ontario California
    If you are willing to spend that much money, I agree with Tom, I prefer Kinetico for those who have no real problems with price.

    The larger models will extend time between regenerations, provide potentially higher quality water (you would only know this through expensive testing methods, so it is not something a homeowner would notice, just a technical note), higher service flow rates, higher efficincies. We sell our 1 cu. ft units for almost the identical price to the 1.5 cu. ft. units. It is purely a volume issue. We assemble 1.5 and 2 cu ft systems in mass bulk, the 1 cu. ft units are built to order. The additional .5 cu. ft. of resin is offset by the assembly times of mass producing vs, low quantity production. You may notice that many sellers online charge just a few dollars more for a unit that is 50% larger. This is why.

    I will check for local good companies local to you when I return to the office on Wednesday.
  6. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

    Messages:
    2,714
    Location:
    Central Florida
    "Near Tampa" covers an awful lot of ground, so there are probably hundreds of companies, including the big proprietary brands like Kinetico and Culligan. No matter who you choose, I'd ask them for customer lists for folks you could call for referrals. Granted, they probably won't tell you much about people who had bad experiences, but if you can find a few near you to talk to you might get some useful vibes about how a particular dealer or franchiser performs.

    I'm a DIYer and recovering engineer, so I stay away from the big guys on principle, but your situation is different, obviously. But even the higher initial price isn't that terrible. I paid a local independent guy $3991 in today's dollars to install my conventional 1.5 ft³ system -- chlorinator, carbon, softener. I could do a lot better today, doing everything myself, but I hadn't a clue 12 years ago. Ongoing maintenance costs me about $180/year for chlorine, salt, and reserve for media replacement, and it's getting a lot harder than it used to be to toss 40-lb bags of salt around.

    I personally would choose Culligan over Kinetico, but that's based on not being able to do any maintenance on my own, and the bad experience of a neighbor (aka "hearsay"). However, I think most (all?) Kinetico systems offer continuous treatment without interruption for regeneration, whereas that's an expensive option for "conventional" systems, and might be something you'd want for those times when you're using a ton of water. In any event, I'll bet Culligan could be talked into upgrading you to a 1.5 ft³ unit for the same price without too much effort. The water-treatment field, especially in Florida, is notorious for being negotiable -- my independent guy knocked off close to $1000 from his original quote and all I said was "let me think about it for a while."

    Keep in mind those are comments from an amateur DIYer, not one of the many experts on this forum. I'm just as anxious to see dittohead's list as you are...
  7. RobinFL

    RobinFL New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    Florida
    Good point. To be more specific I live in Plant city, Florida. One of the reasons I contacted Culligan first is because they have a store very close to me.

    Another concern of mine is how to dispose of the water softener discharge. The Culligan sales rep advised not to tie it into my septic system. Where I live, during the rainy season here in Florida, the ground stays very wet and sometimes over a week. (Yes it does suck.) Therefore a dry well solution isn't an option. The sales rep wanted to direct it to the street which my homeowners association would not like. Google searches on the Internet seem to provide conflicting answers on any negative effects to the septic system, if any.

    Another question… The water comes in on the south side of my house and the septic is quite a ways away on the north side. How difficult and costly would it be to tie into my septic system if that's a good solution? Thanks.
  8. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

    Messages:
    2,714
    Location:
    Central Florida
    Well, I'm in Polk City so we probably share the same drainage problems. My dry "well" is about 80' of 4" perforated pipe in a gravel bed, not very deep, I'm told. Can't tell from the grass above that anything unusual is going on. Maybe you could build an attractive-looking rock garden of -- literally -- rocks, and discharge to it, above ground. There's always a way.

    A store close by is always an asset, and the fact that there's a store at all is a good sign.

    Just for fun, ask DEP or Hillsborough County what they think of discharging to the street. It's not raw sewage, industrial waste, or pesticide or herbicide residue, which they DO care about, and they might actually not mind. On balance, they might deem it better than using the septic system. Get a statement from your softener supplier as to exactly what that waste stream will look like and give them a call or (better, IMHO) drop them an e-mail. Worth a try, and the worst they can do is say no. Actually, I'm sure there's a LOT worse they could say, but you're not guilty of doing something bad until you actually do it.

    I've seen other comments on this forum that discharging to a septic system isn't a big deal, since the flow rate and volume are both minor compared to normal household use. One poster commented that his septic installer "didn't recommend" softening systems be tied into the septic tank, but didn't specifically prohibit it. I just Googled "Can I discharge water softener backwash into my septic tank?" and was rewarded with over 41,000 hits. The first few were from health departments, etc., and were generally of the "probably won't hurt, but..." genre. All in all, it appears that if the softener is set up efficiently, and your septic system is sized properly and properly maintained, you should be OK.

    As far as hooking up to it is concerned, a small drain line from where the softener discharges to any drain leading to the septic system should do it, subject to trap & vent issues, which I'm not qualified to comment on. You could probably even drain the softener into a sink if there's one handy, which would be preferable in many ways. A licensed plumber would be very happy to plumb in a permanent drain line, I'm sure.

    Good luck.
  9. RobinFL

    RobinFL New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    Florida
    I too, am looking forward to dittohead's list.

    Check this out: As I understand this, if I lived in the city of Tampa, disposing of water softener discharge would be "illegal dumping" if it were not piped to a sanitary sewer system.
    http://www.tampagov.net/dept_stormw...ronment_and_water_quality/Illegal_Dumping.asp

    I called Hillsborough County EPC and they said any graywater that runs into the street is considered "an environmental nuisance" and directed me toward the Department of Health. The Department of Health transferred me to the guy who handles well water and sewer information. He told me people usually just let it run off into their yard. When asked about the legality of it, he said it was fine.

    So, what I think I'm going to do is this… I have a couple drains in my backyard that run together and drain water from the backyard to the front. It's at least 60 feet of black corrugated four-inch pipe. If dry it'll take 39 gallons before spewing out to the front. Could I have a problem of anything building up in the pipe over time or do you think the discharge will kill any grass? That could be a real easy solution.

    I am definitely going to get other quotes before making a purchase. I was incorrect about the above pricing. I had a reverse osmosis system included in the quote and $150 was just for the reverse osmosis (something I have decided to hold off on right now). I had the sales rep break down the numbers today. A 1 ft.³ softener is $3400 and a 1.5 ft.³ softener is $3600. The "platinum plan" that covers salt and 100% parts and labor on the softener cost $309/annually.
Similar Threads: input water
Forum Title Date
Water Softener Forum, problems, installation and r New Home - Looking for Water Treatment System Input Mar 4, 2013
Water Softener Forum, problems, installation and r H2S, carbon and air input needed Sep 21, 2012
Water Softener Forum, problems, installation and r Can clogged drain damage water softener? Yesterday at 7:26 PM
Water Softener Forum, problems, installation and r Bought a house with new water softener, not clear on whether it's programmed Friday at 12:40 PM
Water Softener Forum, problems, installation and r Another water softener sizing question Sep 15, 2014

Share This Page