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Frequently asked questions about water softening, filtration and treatment systems for purifying drinking water and other water uses.

1. What would be the best filter/system for iron and calcium residue from well water, the kind that leaves scum on glasses and red brownish residue on fixtures? What brand is best for such filters?

The best filters for iron and calcium residue from well water are the non-electric water softeners with a probable added pre-filter placed ahead of the softener to remove the heavier items within the water. A free on-site water quality test would confirm the exact settings and filters required.

2. Is there a consensus on saltless water softeners?
2(a). We have white residue on our dishes out of our new dishwasher. Just started happening about 6 months ago, our hot water heater is a 17 year old Marathon Peak Electric. We do have a reverse osmosis system for drinking water.
2(b). Do these "EasyWater" systems work and will it help me? Any help is appreciated.

2. The consensus on “saltless” water systems is that they are not considered as water softeners by anyone in the industry. They are more appropriately referred to as scale reducing systems in that they work by changing the properties of the hardness in the water. They do not provide any removal of hardness such as calcium, magnesium, and the majority of limestone.

2(a). Without the removal of the specific hardness you do not get the soap savings associated with standard water softeners and you will continue to have the accumulation of hardness in your hot water heater, where it tends to settle over time creating layers of hardness. In other words, without removing the specific hardness, these systems do not have the same benefits of a traditional softener.

2(b). EasyWater is a carbon based system which is great for taste, odors, and removing chlorine out of the home, but they are not effective in removing the hardness out of the home. The Water Quality Association has an issued an open letter about this specific topic on their website with information about standard water softeners vs. saltless systems, with their recommendation that consumers purchase standard softeners over the saltless models because salt free systems only handle a small part of an overall problem with regard to hard water.

3. With an acidic water problem, does the acid neutralizer have to be accompanied by a water softener? The "plumber" (salesman) says that the neutralizer makes the water harder than it already is, so I must have both units. Is he just trying to sell me a softener with a monthly salt contract? Or, is that a legitimate statement? Can I have just a neutralizer? Or are they always in pairs?

This answer is in progress.

4. I have heard that there are alternative water softeners that do not use salt or potassium but use electric current to modify the calcium molecules so they form less scale, such as Scale Ban and others. Do they work?

None of these alternative systems are considered to be actual water softeners. These systems do change the properties of a portion of the limestone scale as it runs through the pipes, but they only work for a specific length and section of pipe and even in those areas are only a partial solution to hard water. Most water professionals would say that these alternative systems do not work at all and consider them a very large waste of money.

5. Water Softener Salt To Unjam?
My Kenmore is “stuck” and stopped producing soft water. I cleaned the screens, but suspect the non-nugget salt I dumped in are bridged. I managed to empty half the tank so far looks and it looks OK. Is it feasible to get some pressure going with a high pressure hose of hot water in the tank to loosen it?

To begin, it's best to discuss how to avoid this problem into the future. There are different levels of salt quality. The lowest level is rock salt. Rock salt tends to bridge or get stuck in the tank. It also has sand and silica in it so it is considered dirty; it is not recommended for water softeners. The next level is salt pellets, pellets tend to be cleaner, but they can still bridge or get stuck in the bottom of the salt tank or brine tank, though they are better than rock salt.

The salt we recommend is solar cube. Solar cube is very concentrated and clean. It also includes a food grade disinfectant built into it that cleans the softening system each time the system goes through regeneration or cleaning.

As far as cleaning out the tank that is already bridged or stuck from lower quality salt, sometimes you have to take a sledge hammer to it and hit it, that's how hard it gets when it gets bridged. Of course you should really know what you are doing if you take a sledge hammer to any part of your system to avoid collateral damage. Once loose the entire system has to be completely cleaned and checked to make sure that none of the components are broken. After cleaning and checking, you then need to make sure that all of the settings within the brine tank are correct. I highly recommend that you contact our service department to take care of the problem and restore your system to optimal working condition. If you want to do it yourself, please when you use salt in the future; use very clean salt, with solar cube salt being the best on the market.

We deliver Solar Cube salt at no charge; you simply pay for the salt itself at $11.95 per bag. On delivery we will also test your system to make sure that everything is functioning properly.

6. Chloramine: Does A Water Softener Remove Chloramine? I have a client with a Culligan water softener/iron removal setup that was installed when they were on well water. Now they've gone to municipal water, and coincidentally it's time for a new water heater. I've suggested that they probably no longer need the Culligan setup since they're now using pre-treated water, but they're concerned about the local water company's use of Chloramine as part of the treatment process. So what I have is really a two-part question. Three-part, come to think of it. First, is the existing setup doing anything useful regarding Chloramine? Second, can you list any really authoritative references to de-bunk (or support) health concerns related to that chemical? A really quick Google search shows that some folks are worked up about it. Third, along the lines of "Do you want fries with that?" what are the options?

The Culligan water softener with the iron removal setup will not remove the Chloramines. Chloramines are a mixture of ammonia and chlorine. Chloramines are removed by a type of carbon and that carbon is readily available on the market. We can set up a system with carbon that removes all Chloramine

To answer about the health concerns surrounding Chloramines. We do talk to people that have Chloramines and they do seem to have a difficult time if they have existing skin conditions. The Chloramine tends to aggravate those skin conditions from a health perspective. We are not doctors so we do not go further than that as far as claims to health effects.

If you were to put a system in the Chloramine removal tank, what we call the dechlorinator would go before the water softener and then the water softener is designed to remove rust iron turbidity and hardness out of the water. If you have any sand or silt coming in we would remove that with a pre-filter. There is also a reverse osmosis system that goes under the kitchen sink, we can have the chlorine and Chloramines removed at that point as an alternative. For taste and odor so you can either do it whole house or you can do it under the sink using a reverse osmosis system.

7. Water Filter Connection Question. I am looking at 2 different whole house water filters. The smaller of the two has connections for a 3/4" male bushing (made for 3/4" service) the only problem is it does not claim to remove chlorine. The larger of the two has connections for a 1" bushing (made for 1" service) this model claims to remove chlorine. My question is can I use a 1''x 3/4" reducing bushing to install this larger filter when having a 3/4" service? Would this present any problems with performance?

You can reduce the bushing from 1 to 3/4 inch and that is fine. The real question here is the filter itself, the media inside the canister, what's sometimes referred to as a sump. This is what does all of the work to remove chlorine and it requires a carbon or carbon block filter, either one of those will work.

As a last note, you cannot down size the total system for the house smaller than the main that's coming into the house. For example if the main size is 1 inch then everything has to be 1 inch. If the main that's coming into the house is 3/4 inch then downsizing from 1 inch to 3/4 inch is not an issue.

8. The Best Quality Water Softeners. Our water softener is on its last leg, if it hasn't all ready died. It was on old Waterman unit which now backwash's erratically and the water has a metallic taste. Not to mention the clear "jelly" that now grows in the toilets. The iron content of the water was tested and found to be 0.02mg/l which seems very low. I am a commercial General Contractor so I really never see this equipment and would like some professional advice on this matter. Which manufacturers are considered to be better quality and why the problems with such a low iron content?

The best type of water softener on the market by far is the non electric system which gives you zero grain soft water, it does not get better than that, 24 hours a day 7 days a week completely uninterrupted and it never runs out. This twin tank system is non-electric with no clocks computers or timers.

In this particular case the clear jelly or other issues that are going on can be a indicative of a myriad of problems. Electric water softener like your old Waterman is the same electric system that every other company on the market sells currently and has sold for decades. It has a clock or computer and a valve on it, it has a single resin tank and it has a salt tank of some type, whether it is a tank in a tank or a cabinet unit, they all work exactly the same.

From your question it appears that bacteria may be growing inside the resin tank which means that it has to be completely cleaned out, it has to be sanitized, and brand new resin put into the system. Most likely the condition will re-appear over time. The reason for this is that hard water, which damages all appliances, is also damaging and has damaged you're water softener itself. This is because your system uses hard water during self cleaning and regeneration.

This is why our system is the best in the industry. When it cleans itself it uses clean soft water thereby avoiding problems such as your altogether, no matter how old the system gets. Our brands are the only water softener on the market that incorporates this type of advanced technology and forward thinking that avoids the problem you are having, a problem common with all electric water softeners.

9. Water Softeners - What are the differences in brands?
I currently own a water softener in my home, which is about ready to give up the ghost. It was a Rainsoft, and it worked well for many years. In looking at replacements, I have seen some Sears Kenmore water softeners at between $300-500, and Culligan units for over $2000. There are just 2 in my household, and I do not wish to overbuy beyond my needs. Does anyone have any guidance on whether I can get by with one of the much less costly Sears water softeners? Thanks.

The differences between brands are very small when you talk about the electric single tank softeners you have already shopped. Sears, Culligan, Rainsoft, Kenmore, EchoWater, and Purionics are all very similar. They all have a clock or computer on a controller valve that sits on a single resin tank which is the filter and of course a salt tank. The differences in prices are usually related the capacity of these electric softening systems that could go from a 20 thousand grain capacity up to a 45 thousand grain capacity. Each typically has a warranty of 1-3 years. Some have a limited lifetime warranty, but when you read through the exceptions listed on the warranty you find it really does not cover the active parts of the system.

The only different water softening system available worldwide is our in house system. It is the world's only non-electric twin tank system with no clock, computer or timers. It has two resin filter tanks and of course a salt tank. Oue high tech system gives you zero grain soft water 24 hours a day 7 days a week. This flow of perfect water is uninterrupted and its advanced design cleans itself through regeneration only using soft water, prolonging its life. This is why our products come with a 10 year warranty.

If you get an electric system, we highly recommend that you buy the cheapest one available that is also somewhat reliable. This is because all electric systems only last as long as they can withstand the flaws in their overall design. We do carry electric systems that have a valve that is considered the most reliable in the industry. It has a 45 thousand grain capacity so it can handle almost any need. Unfortunately, even being the best on the market, its performance and long term reliability does not come close to the zero grain 24/7 performance of the non-electric dual tank system.

10. Can a Water Softener work with our well water?
We got our water professionally tested by two companies. The readings came back extremely high 141 gpg and over 2900 total dissolved solids. We have well water. BestValue said their model could handle the water, but the second company Culligan said that no softener on the market today would be able to handle our water. I guess I need some third party advice.

The recommendation for the 2175 model is correct. At 141 grains per gallon and a 2900 tds can easily be handled by our system. The reason our system would be ideal is because it has two tanks that work back and forth as needed so you never run out of soft water. Once you run out of softening capacity in the first tank, it automatically switches over to the second.

We would not recommend a traditional electric water softener with a single resin tank in your described environment. Traditional systems would not hold up for very long and would not provide the quality of service that you would expect from a water softener. Our exclusive non-electric two tank system could easily provide you with abundant soft water, on demand, 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. We are located in Northern California and have sales offices in most cities. Call to find out the locatioin near you.