Water Softener systems?

Discussion in 'Water Softener Forum, Questions and Answers' started by gxprice, Nov 15, 2004.

  1. gxprice

    gxprice New Member

    Nov 15, 2004
    Hi all, another newbie joins with a (probably common?) question. We've taken the decision to buy a water softening system to feed the whole (except garden water pipes). Water is very hard (we're based in southern Switzerland) and I've heard the number "50" mentioned as a hardness level (target is apparently 7 if that tells you what I'm referring to).

    We've come across 2 systems here - one is the Culligan system and we've been recommended the "Medallist" system. The other is also a salt/resin based system but is apparently "new technology" and is run by water pressure with two tubes so one can regenerate while the other supplies softened water (duplex). It's a much smaller unit (although about the same price) and claims to be much more efficient (it can be found at www.biowater.fr if the system is not clear by my description).

    I (we) would really appreciate knowing - is there any "best" in this area or are they pretty much equal? Why does the second one not have a draining facility like the Culligan system? - seems to me that when you wash resin through, certain elements need to be removed, no?

    Any comments / helpful suggestions etc. welcome - we currently have our annual "ideal home exhibition" on here at the moment and there are quite big discounts available on these kinds of things so we're going to take advantage :)

    Thanks and Regards,

  2. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Aug 31, 2004
    Cave Creek, Arizona

    The second one has to have a "draining" function since it specifies the amount of salt and water using during a recharge, and unless it had a drain there would be on way for it to use water. The second one is apparently similar to the Kinetico non-electric system, but if so, then both units being proprietary are probably overpriced, and relatively expensive to repair. The reason for two units with a non-electric model is that there is no control over when it regenerates, so it could happen during the day when water is being used so they have to transfer the functions to the second tank to prevent using hard water during that period. "New technology" usually refers to the mechanics of the system, rather than how the water is treated.
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  4. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Aug 31, 2004
    San Diego, CA
    As hj pointed out, there is ONLY ONE method which is used for water softening: the ion exchange resin process. This method is used in all home softeners. it is used in industrial applications requiring demineralized water, and it is used in nuclear submarines to demineralize the make-up water.

    The only difference in systems which may be found in the home: there are companies which will install the resin system in your home and come once a week to change it out. The regeneration process using salt is accomplished at their plant instead of at your house.

    The duplex system is an interesting design which I had not seen before. It would allow 24 hour availability of treated water. In the simplex systems which are prevalent in this area, the system has to go into bypass mode perhaps twice a week for perhaps 30 minutes. For most families, this is not even noticed. Of course the simplex system must have a timer system, whereas the duplex system apparently just has a flowmeter which switches modules when necessary. It most definitely must hava a drain.

    The only difficulty you may have in purchasing a system here and taking it to Europe is is your plumbing connections are metric sizes, some adapters to inches may be required. Also, I noted that the Biowater system apparently is described as being compact in size. In general, units here in the US are large. We have not yet caught on to the concept that a family of 4 people may not really need 3600 square feet of living space, plus a 3½ car garage!
  5. gxprice

    gxprice New Member

    Nov 15, 2004

    Jimbo, HJ,

    Thanks both for your responses, they are appreciated.

    First, a clarification - I'm based in Switzerland and will buy here, not in the US. Sorry if I wasn't clear on that. However, either of the systems will cost me about US$4000 installed (with a free year of salt - woohoo!) so perhaps I should consider importing :)

    For the first system (www.culligan.com - I forgot it in the original post), yes, there is a drain and I think this is used during regeneration. However, they claim that this system can also work on volumetric parameters rather than just a timer (i.e. intelligent usage). The second (compact) system apparently doesn't have a drain but as you both point out (and I agree with), it should have one. I'm going to have to speak to the guy again on this one. Since the conversation was in French (which I'm lousy at speaking) and he was going really fast, I suspect I've missed something....

    Is there anyone with a preference on one of these systems or are all the US system the large simplex tank varieties (as with the first I mentioned)?

    Do these systems generally require an annual maintenance program or are they self-managing (apart from me filling up the salt). The guy for the Biowater system said that even I (!) could clean the filter on his system.



    PS - Oh, what I'd do with a 3½ car garage :)
  6. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Aug 31, 2004
    Wherever I park the motorhome.
    The Biowater unit is a unique type of what we call a twin tank immeditate regenerated softener. That type of softener provides 24 hr soft water but they flow water through both tanks (if I read their site correctly) which the majority of twin tank models do not do. That's how they can use such small tanks. But they use century old water power to drive their metering and valving, which is why they require a prefilter. Their very close tolerance water powered gearing can't work well with any sediment built up in the gearing. They will have a drain line as all softeners must. The company discontinued their North Americn distribution awhile back. I heard it was due to service problems from the parent company in Europe but I don't know if that's true. The softener is a metered/demand regenerated as opposed to time clock/day timer and that's usually the better choice most of the time.

    If you don't have a need for 24 hr per day soft water, you don't need a twin tank softener.

    'Normal' softeners are larger due to a number of reasons. The primary reason is the SFR (service flow rating in gpm) of the softener which if exceeded prevents the softener from removing all the hardness etc. in your water. The volume and type of resin dictates the SFR of a softener. Normally a regeneration will take an hour and a half +/- and softeners that take much less time and water are IMO questionable as to their long term service free operation. And any softener control valve that needs a sediment prefilter is probably the wrong brand for the water it is installed on; or someone is trying to sell you something you don't need.

    Quality Water Associates
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