Water Softener Where to Start?

Discussion in 'Water Softener Forum, Questions and Answers' started by elgato, Apr 21, 2012.

  1. elgato

    elgato Member

    Jan 20, 2007
    Phoenix, AZ
    My mother in law has decided she needs a water softener.
    2000 SF house, Tucson, AZ. City water. She is the only occupant but has ocassional guests.

    I have done quite a bit of surfing and arrived at the following conclusions. Please correct me if I am wrong.

    Most big box products are cheap but tend to be of marginal to average quality. More problems and failures.

    Proprietary products (Cull....) are extremely overpriced, must be serviced by the seller and usually come with a high pressure, in home sales pitch.

    I hear Fleck and Clack recommended quite often. Are these just valves or complete systems?

    So, I would like to get a high quality, reliable system at a fair price.

    Recommended brands to consider?

    Should I just contact a few plumbers and get quotes on these brands?


    Thank you for your help.
  2. Tom Sawyer

    Tom Sawyer In the Trades

    Nov 29, 2010
    Let's start with big box brands like GE, Whirlpool, Kenmore etc. They are indeed less expensive and possibly more prone to mechanical failure and perhaps you will not get as many years out of them as you would with a Fleck or Clack valve head. However they are less expensive and most will give you at least 5 to 8 years of service without problems and I have seen some that are still working after 15 to 20 years. Neither Fleck or Clack sell tanks, media etc. When you buy a "system" someone assembles the valve, tanks, media etc and packages it as a unit. Both Fleck and Clack valves are used on a variety of set up's that have been re-branded under another name. Yes, Culligan, Kinetico etc are more expensive no doubt. You have to sign up for service contracts with them also and since they are proprietary valves and equipment they are very difficult to get parts for. If you or your mother is handy you can get Fleck online through several dealers but not Clack because Clack decided they were tired of dealing with unscrupulous internet dealers and hacks. Your local plumber should be able to steer you in the right direction though.
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  4. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Aug 31, 2004
    Wherever I park the motorhome.
    Big box store brands selling GE, Kenmore, Whirlpool or plumbing or pump supply houses selling North Star, or the Morton Salt.com stuff are all made by the same company and are low quality with very short warranties and all are proprietary. And all but North Star are one piece cabinet models which are difficult to work on.

    Fleck, Clack and Autotrol only make the control valve and are sold mostly through independent local or internet dealers. Clack is not sold on the internet but that is not due to the dishonest comment about "unscrupulous internet dealers and hacks" Most of the internet dealers that were selling Clack online are still selling Autotrol and Fleck online.

    To learn how to correctly size a softener, click the link in my signature. Guests' and visitors' water use is not used to size a softener, neither is the square footage of the house.

    On average, the majority of plumbers are not a good choice for water treatment equipment needs. Same for well drillers. They don't get involved in the industry sufficiently to be fully knowledgeable and aren't very good in troubleshooting problems with water treatment equipment; they tend to rely on the counter help in their plumbing/pump supply houses. You find water treatment dealers in your phone book or online.
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2012
  5. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Jan 9, 2012
    Water systems designer, R&D, Technical Director
    Ontario California
    El Gato, I sent you a PM. I have a couple friends in your area that can help you out. Fairly inexpensive, top grade Fleck or Clack units.
    Fleck and Clack both manufabture a large portion of their equipment, Valve, screens, brine tanks. Neither comp[any makes their own media but both distribute it. The OEMs can choose to purchase equipment from multiple sources and mix n match as they desire. Structural tank (pentair/Fleck), and a Clack valve.

    The valve is the most important piece of the equipment and either Clack, Fleck, or Autotrol will be fine. Fake Fleck and Clack valves.. I would not bother with them. We have over 30 test units in our facility and none of them meet the quality control necessary for our company to even consider using them. They will save you $40, not worth the potential liability and potential problems.
  6. Tom Sawyer

    Tom Sawyer In the Trades

    Nov 29, 2010
    cry baby.jpg

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