WaterSoftening company vs local plumber?

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Brecchi

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Hello, I posted a thread recently and got a lot of good advice regarding a water softener for our house. We are on well water, and after a water test from NTL and a lot of conversations with various members on here, I decided on a Fleck 5600SXT.

I was a bit wary of online stores, but I was able to actually go into one with a brick and mortar presence (Aqua Science). The young lady working there was very helpful. She did recommend a Big Blue filter, which I'm not 100% sure about but its not too much added cost. So I planned to get the water softener, filter, and connection kit for just under $1000.

I was all ready to order and wrap this thing up (I've been researching for months, got slowed down due to work and bad Covid.) I contacted a small well- regarded plumbing company who specializes in water softeners and related services. I spoke with the plumber and he said that they have too many problems installing softeners that they don't sell themselves. Its actually believable, with the stories he told me about going out to customers houses multiple times due to faulty previous installs and shoddy equipment. He seemed like a good guy and the company has a good reputation, and customer service and building long-term relationships with people and families seems to be important to him.. He spent at least 2o minutes on the phone with me before he had to get back to a job he was currently working on.

My concern is that he is exclusively a Hague dealer. From my own research, they seem to be a bit outdated and not really discussed on here. The plumber mentioned that he decided to go with them exclusively because they are a family owned business, all parts made in the USA and their customer service is second to none.

He said that if I decided to go with him, he could do everything for $1800-$2000 out the door for a unit with a 10 year warranty, or closer to $2500 for a unit with a 25 year warranty. Some other things mentioned were:

- A lot of online companies just basically dump resin into a tank and ship things out with no "science" behind the process.

-Plumbers who charge $200 for an install are likely skipping over a lot of important considerations. He would charge more like $800 for labor, which a lot of folks think is too much but he mentioned around $275 in parts and fittings (included) to do the job right. Apparently, he spends time doing extra work to ensure everything drains properly, etc. and it seems like a more exhaustive process.

-One thing that is worrying is that he mentioned that an improperly attached water softener to a well water/septic system can result in eventually getting some of that black water into the drinking water. Which is obviously gross and scary.

His secretary sent an email offering a free in-person estimate which I am likely going to do, but I also don;t want to waste this guy's time if I go another route. I'd very much like to hear you guys thoughts on this, and what you would do in my situation.

Thanks,
Ben
 

Reach4

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Some plumber will install softeners that you provide-- maybe $4oo, maybe less, depending on location. Some won't. Those that call themselves water treatment specialists seldom will. They want the markup on the equipment, and who can blame them?
 

Fuellhauler223

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Hello, I posted a thread recently and got a lot of good advice regarding a water softener for our house. We are on well water, and after a water test from NTL and a lot of conversations with various members on here, I decided on a Fleck 5600SXT.

I was a bit wary of online stores, but I was able to actually go into one with a brick and mortar presence (Aqua Science). The young lady working there was very helpful. She did recommend a Big Blue filter, which I'm not 100% sure about but its not too much added cost. So I planned to get the water softener, filter, and connection kit for just under $1000.

I was all ready to order and wrap this thing up (I've been researching for months, got slowed down due to work and bad Covid.) I contacted a small well- regarded plumbing company who specializes in water softeners and related services. I spoke with the plumber and he said that they have too many problems installing softeners that they don't sell themselves. Its actually believable, with the stories he told me about going out to customers houses multiple times due to faulty previous installs and shoddy equipment. He seemed like a good guy and the company has a good reputation, and customer service and building long-term relationships with people and families seems to be important to him.. He spent at least 2o minutes on the phone with me before he had to get back to a job he was currently working on.

My concern is that he is exclusively a Hague dealer. From my own research, they seem to be a bit outdated and not really discussed on here. The plumber mentioned that he decided to go with them exclusively because they are a family owned business, all parts made in the USA and their customer service is second to none.

He said that if I decided to go with him, he could do everything for $1800-$2000 out the door for a unit with a 10 year warranty, or closer to $2500 for a unit with a 25 year warranty. Some other things mentioned were:

- A lot of online companies just basically dump resin into a tank and ship things out with no "science" behind the process.

-Plumbers who charge $200 for an install are likely skipping over a lot of important considerations. He would charge more like $800 for labor, which a lot of folks think is too much but he mentioned around $275 in parts and fittings (included) to do the job right. Apparently, he spends time doing extra work to ensure everything drains properly, etc. and it seems like a more exhaustive process.

-One thing that is worrying is that he mentioned that an improperly attached water softener to a well water/septic system can result in eventually getting some of that black water into the drinking water. Which is obviously gross and scary.

His secretary sent an email offering a free in-person estimate which I am likely going to do, but I also don;t want to waste this guy's time if I go another route. I'd very much like to hear you guys thoughts on this, and what you would do in my situation.

Thanks,
Ben[/QUOTE;
Hello, I posted a thread recently and got a lot of good advice regarding a water softener for our house. We are on well water, and after a water test from NTL and a lot of conversations with various members on here, I decided on a Fleck 5600SXT.

I was a bit wary of online stores, but I was able to actually go into one with a brick and mortar presence (Aqua Science). The young lady working there was very helpful. She did recommend a Big Blue filter, which I'm not 100% sure about but its not too much added cost. So I planned to get the water softener, filter, and connection kit for just under $1000.

I was all ready to order and wrap this thing up (I've been researching for months, got slowed down due to work and bad Covid.) I contacted a small well- regarded plumbing company who specializes in water softeners and related services. I spoke with the plumber and he said that they have too many problems installing softeners that they don't sell themselves. Its actually believable, with the stories he told me about going out to customers houses multiple times due to faulty previous installs and shoddy equipment. He seemed like a good guy and the company has a good reputation, and customer service and building long-term relationships with people and families seems to be important to him.. He spent at least 2o minutes on the phone with me before he had to get back to a job he was currently working on.

My concern is that he is exclusively a Hague dealer. From my own research, they seem to be a bit outdated and not really discussed on here. The plumber mentioned that he decided to go with them exclusively because they are a family owned business, all parts made in the USA and their customer service is second to none.

He said that if I decided to go with him, he could do everything for $1800-$2000 out the door for a unit with a 10 year warranty, or closer to $2500 for a unit with a 25 year warranty. Some other things mentioned were:

- A lot of online companies just basically dump resin into a tank and ship things out with no "science" behind the process.

-Plumbers who charge $200 for an install are likely skipping over a lot of important considerations. He would charge more like $800 for labor, which a lot of folks think is too much but he mentioned around $275 in parts and fittings (included) to do the job right. Apparently, he spends time doing extra work to ensure everything drains properly, etc. and it seems like a more exhaustive process.

-One thing that is worrying is that he mentioned that an improperly attached water softener to a well water/septic system can result in eventually getting some of that black water into the drinking water. Which is obviously gross and scary.

His secretary sent an email offering a free in-person estimate which I am likely going to do, but I also don;t want to waste this guy's time if I go another route. I'd very much like to hear you guys thoughts on this, and what you would do in my situation.

Thanks,
Ben

I worked as a plumber for about 10 years. We did not have time to service water softeners. So the only way we would install them is if the customer bought it them self. Most of our jobs were hooked up to city water that was hard but did not really have lots of other nasty things. So they just went to a box store. If there were other concerns we referred them to a well guy that dealt with softeners and let them handle it. I bought my softener for a well off of advise from right here and am very happy ordering it online. Depending on your plumbing skills the installation is pretty straight forward. I biggest thing I would tell you is to get your water tested first. Don’t let anyone sell you a softener with out knowing what you expect from the softener first.
 

Brecchi

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Fuelhauler, thanks for sharing your experience. I did get a water test done (again, I'm on well water) and I'm a bit high on alkalinity and my water is pretty hard, but not horrible. I've attached the test below.

I also decided after a lot of advice on my previous thread to go with a Fleck 5600SXT, 48,000 grains. Here is a link to the thread in case anyone is interested:

https://terrylove.com/forums/index....e-homeowner-need-water-softener-advice.94358/

But after speaking with the local plumber (specializing in water treatment systems) I'm still wondering about his costs, Hague products, possible cheap hookups leading to plumbing and health hazards, etc. Its this last part that has me most worried.

On another note - do you all use the Big Blue filter? It was recommended to me but I'm not 100% sure how beneficial it will be in conjunction with the water softener.
 

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Old

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I typically would recommend the local dealer and I'm sure he is a nice guy and everything however I would NEVER recommend Hague equipment. Depending on the model Hague is the same equipment you get at the big box store under the "waterboss" and "ao smith" brands. Hague is low quality equipment with huge markups.

He was talking about black water getting in the drinking water. This was kind of scare tactic. Yes it is possible but you would need to have like 3 simultaneous failures for that to even happen. It easily prevented by a simple air gap on the softener drain line. Depending on where the softener will drain you would just need an air gap fitting on the end of the drain line. It is also a code requirement to have an air gap on the softener drain. If whoever does the work pulls a permit and has the install inspected the air gap drain will be part of that inspection.
 

Bannerman

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Recommend searching for a water treatment professional that is local to your area who offers and supports either Fleck or Clack based systems.
 

Brecchi

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Old, this is exactly what I was trying to figure out, thanks for the insight. I doubt I would have been able to figure this out otherwise. And Bannerman, thanks for your consistent advice.

On another note - do you all think the big blue filter is a good thing to have in my situation?
 

Brecchi

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Thanks, I'm pretty sure I don't have any sediment issues. I'm not sure what the symptoms would be but I certainly haven't seen any sediment in our water.
 

Brecchi

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I ended up getting an in-person estimate from another reputable local company with very good reviews. They quoted $550 for an install, which would include all fittings. He also mentioned replacing some PVC connectors with brass ones, I suppose they are more robust and secure.

I did ask about possible black water backing up into the system, and the plumber explained to me that they used a ball valve system to protect against this rather than an air gap. And that it really shouldn't be a problem if our septic system is up to date and pumped out at scheduled intervals.

Does this all sound pretty normal to you guys?
 

Reach4

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I ended up getting an in-person estimate from another reputable local company with very good reviews. They quoted $550 for an install, which would include all fittings. He also mentioned replacing some PVC connectors with brass ones, I suppose they are more robust and secure.
I think that is for installing the just the softener that you provide, and running the drain and misc. Or does that also include installing a cartridge filter? Seems high to me if just the softener if you do the programming and resin loading. Not that pre-loaded resin is a timesaver. Loading resin without spilling is harder than it sounds. I have to remember that inflation has been going on, and the CPI number has not been keeping up with reality.

I would install a boiler drain valve after the softener, and maybe one before. Where will you get the water to water your indoor plants?
 

Brecchi

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Hi Reach4, thanks for the quick response. The quote is for the basic installation of the softener, drain, misc. but we didn't speak about the programming and resin loading. I'm actually pretty sure this will be included, as this was an in-person estimate and the plumber is well aware that I'm ordering online with no experience on my end. I will double check to make sure.

He may also do me a favor on the side and drill a hole in my granite counter top so that I can install a water faucet for an RO filter which I plan to install myself.

I decided not to go with the big blue filter, I think this was a bit of a blanket upsell and I don't have a sediment issue as far as I can tell.

It does seem a bit much, but I've also been told that a $200 runs the risk of being shoddy.

Can you explain a bit more about the boiler drain valves and their purpose, as well as probable cost?
 

Reach4

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I decided not to go with the big blue filter, I think this was a bit of a blanket upsell and I don't have a sediment issue as far as I can tell.
Check your aerator screens for sediment. Did they catch anything?

I expect your RO spout will have a built-in air gap, and maybe a TDS indicator.
 

Brecchi

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As a complete newbie, I'm not sure where the aerator screens are or how to check them. I'm going to attach pictures of my current setup below, hopefully it will help with any of my previous questions.
IMG_3599.JPG
IMG_3600.JPG
 

Reach4

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Tips of your faucets in the kitchen and bathroom.

But wait, you have a well. Flush your pressure tank and WH. You may see solids. If you are inclined to do that, and want to know how, say so.

3/4 pipe on the T&P valve is supposed to extend closer to the floor.
 
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Brecchi

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Yeah I have a well. I've looked in the aerators on the faucets no sediment.

If you could tell me how to flush the tank and heater, I'd like to know.

It seems easy enough to extend the T and P to the floor with a longer piece of PVC. Duly noted.
 

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It seems easy enough to extend the T and P to the floor with a longer piece of PVC.
6 inches is the normal height. I forget if that is a max or a min.

If you could tell me how to flush the tank and heater, I'd like to know.
Precharged Pressure tank flush:
1. Connect a hose to the sediment drain valve, and run that to where you plan to drain the water. I suggest filtering the output through a cloth if you suspect the sediment may include sand.
2. Turn off the pump.
3. Open the drain valve, and let it drain until the water stops. It would be possibly interesting to watch the water that comes out.
4. Close the valve, and turn the pump back on, and let pressure build.
5. Repeat steps 2, 3 and 4 a time or two.
==========================================================
Flushing the WH is an easy DIY thing. See https://terrylove.com/forums/index....o-flush-a-hot-water-heater.79444/#post-576623 post #7.
 

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Thanks for the info. I guess that for a well system, using the method above eliminates the need for a boiler drain valve, is that right?
 

Reach4

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Thanks for the info. I guess that for a well system, using the method above eliminates the need for a boiler drain valve, is that right?
I have an iron filter with a solution tank. The plumber put in a boiler drain valve following that, and I used to top up my solution tank with hard water after adding the bleach. Handy. Later I added another output there so I could top up with soft water instead, since with time the solution tank was slowly accumulating a precipitate from the hard water.

A boiler drain valve not only lets you sample water, or use water there, it is also a good place to screw on a garden hose thread (GHT) water pressure gauge if looking for pressure drops. In addition, my boiler drain valve is part of my plan to bypass my cartridge filters if they were to spring an unlikely leak. I have ball valves on the filter input and output, but the potable water hose (used for RVs typically) is part of my contingency plan. I could run that hose between the pressure tank drain and the boiler drain.
 

Brecchi

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I decided to get a counterpoint offer from a water softening company in the area to compare to my original plan of buying a Fleck 5600SXT and having a local plumber with experience to install. The company (which is reputable in the area) said they would not install a system that was not bought from them, which seems to be a common theme. I'm getting the impression that most companies around here would install whatever you had in the past, but kept running into warranty problems with equipment they didn't provide as well as shoddy workmanship done prior to their involvement.

This company sells a few different brands (not Fleck), but advised against a Fleck system and recommended a Clack. Their prices are $2700 for a Clack EVR and $2300 for a Clack ES, installed. These prices are all-inclusive and include a pre-install check, all fittings, programming, etc, and a 2 week post-install check. I believe they then come out once a year and bring salt if needed. I think these visits, minus materials are included in the initial price as well.

I spoke with the actual installer and I definitely got the impression that they were serious about making sure things were done correctly. He could tell that I have been doing my homework and acknowledged that their prices were higher than just ordering online and self-installing. But he did a pretty good job of explaining how they do go the extra mile.

Wow, it seems like every time I am ready to pull the trigger, I get new info which has me second guessing things. I am wondering if its worth it to pay double what I initially had set up for this extra level of service. If I was ordering from just any online place, I would probably go for it but the fact that I actually got to go into a brick and mortar spot to discuss and line up the Fleck I wanted makes this choice a bit more difficult.

Let me know if I am overthinking all this! I'd like to hear what you all would do in my situation.
 
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