The Saga of replacing the water softner

Don Baer

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Chapter 1 discovering the problem.
Well this is going to be a long saga and it involve the "P" word. We all know the "P" word (plumbing).. I HATE PLUMING.:mad:..anyhow here is how it started...:confused:
I am sitting in my office working on sketch up finishing the cabinet design for the CNC when my wife calls from the laundry (it's next to my office.) "What happened to the water pressure." So being the loving husband that I get up and wander into the laundry room and sure enough the water is just trickling into the washing machine instead of the robust rush of water one would expect when it is filling for the first time. Being the problem solver I am I wander into the kitchen and turn on the faucet and it too is nothing but a trickle. Hmm I think, I wonder if it is a neighborhood thing so I wander outside and turn on the hose bib in the front of the house where the water comes into the house and it has full pressure. :unsure:
Geez I hope I don't have a pipe rupture the weather has gotten below freezing the last few night. So I go out to the meter expecting to see the needle spinning around and to my immense relief it is not. So I can rule out a pipe rupture. Being Navy trained in problem solving I came up with the conclusion that the somewhere in the house..
The next piece of the puzzle, the water goes directly into the water softener in the garage before it feeds the rest of the house so this is the next thing I check. There is a hose bib on the outlet of the water softener that the installer installed when he did the initial installation 13 years ago so I open it and sure enough, no pressure. I open the bypass valves on the inlet and outlet of the water softener and voila we now have water pressure. I tell LOML she can now proceed with her washing . She unhappily proclaims that the clothes aren't get as clean as she would like and grumbling proceed to do the laundry...:(. Right away I know that my problems are just starting because if mama ain't happy, no body is happy.:oops:
 

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Don Baer

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Chapter 2 Repair or replace.
Well the next morning LOML took no time to remind me that we had a water softener problem when she told me how she couldn't get her hair clean when she washed it that morning so I knew the problem wouldn't go away. The previous day I tried the call to the company that had sold me the unit 13 years ago but no joy there the number was no longer in service and a google search turned up nothing. I had also called the plumber who did the original installation and got the after hours service so I left a message. I waited until 9:30 for a call back from the plumber and when that didn't happen I called them and got the secretary/receptionist. She looked up our account and told me it was out of warranty (duh,I knew that after all it was 13 years old). She said that they could send someone out to trouble shoot it but it would be $90 just to have him come out. Asked about a replacement unit since they had installed the original one and she said they offer two unit, one for $1495 and the other for $1695. I explained to her that it was not a full installation, that the "loop" was already there and it was a simple matter of taking out the old and installing the new. She said she didn't know and that if I wanted she would "have Jose call me". I thanked her and decided that I would do some shopping.
First I was able to find a rebuilt timer and flow control unit for $350 on line. I didn't know how involved it would be to take off the old one and put on the new one. I also suspected that the resin in softener had reached the end of it life since for the past year I had been having to regenerate the resin bed a lot more often and the water was not as soft as it should be (LOML was constantly explaining this to me also) so I pretty much decided that it was time to bit the bullet and replace it. I did some online research and learned more than I wanted to know about the different type of units and had pretty much made up my mind what I wanted. After doing a review I pretty much settled on the Aquasure Harmony series unit which BTW was carried by the local Orange BORG. The unit was around $600 and included an external cartridge filter whole house filter which was something I didn't presently have but sounded like a great idea. Now was the dilemma of getting it hooked up which after all would involve PLUMBING... :oops:
I took lots of pictures and measured the height of the inlet and outlet as well as the pipe size, type of connections used distance between inlet and out let and armed with this knowledge went down to my orange BORG to see just how much of a challenge it would be to install my self. I had pretty much decided that if it was not to big a job I would do it myself but if it was a big deal I would pay to have the Orange BORG contractors do the install.
I got to my local Orange Borg and when I finally found an associate in the pluming depart I asked him what he could tell me about water softeners. He admitted that he knew very little and they only stocked two models of units. Both were GE units, both a poor rating and neither one would be easy to use to replace my unit. He explained to me that if I wanted any other unit I would be better to order it online and have it delivered to the store.o_O:cautious:. Now I was frustrated and knew that it was not his fault, I thanked him and since I was out already I decided to drop by the blue BORG to see what they had to offer. I got to the store went back to the appliance area. As I walked in I noticed there were 6 sales associates all standing around the desk shooting the bull, scratching and telling stories. I went to a display for A.O. Smith water softener and proceeded to see the various unit. Then I used my phone and did a search to see how they were rated and did not find very good reviews. after 15 minutes I decided I would see if I could pry one of the sales associates away from their confab so I went up and the same six people (5 guys and one gal) were still involved in their discussion. I asked if anyone they were working and if so could someone help me out. One of em said no were dressed like this for Halloween. I said well is there anyone around who knows anything about water softeners to which one replied that George was the expert but he wasn't around just then. I said well when will George be around and someone mentioned he should be there about 2. It was now 11:45. I guess one of them saw my frustration and took me over to a display and showed me some units made by a company called Krystal pure. He then said they were local and did all of their own installation. he showed me a unit that was $1100 and said it included installation for 1 penny if it was a replacement of an existing unit. The unit was a lot bigger than the one I presently had and the one that was the same size as the one I had was $886. He explained yes but that $886 unit did no include installation and the installation price was $225 for it so I would be better off with the bigger unit. Just then who should show up but George. Now I felt OK at least now i could get some answers. So I asked George why I should buy the Krystal Pure unit, just what sets it apart from similar units and his answer was well this is the unit that Lowes offers and they are local and do their own installation. I said well If I were to buy a unit how long would it take to get it installed ( I knew LOML would not be happy with waiting) He said he didn't know the company (Krystal Pure) would let me know after I order the unit. I pressed the issue and said did he have any idea was it a week, a month, 6 months and he said I'll give you our reps card and you can call him and maybe he can help.
 
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Don Baer

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Chapter 2 (continued)
I took the reps card and called his cell number and left a message. It was 12:05 so I guess that the guy was at lunch and decided to go home and have some lunch and wait for the rep to give me a call. On the way home I got to thinking that maybe there was some way to adapt my existing plumbing to the new unit and I stopped by my new favorite store (they just built an brand new ACE hardware store 2 miles from my house and it was right on the way home) and see what they might have in tern of fitting to make my job easier. A went into the plumbing department and within 2 minutes I had a clerk at my side offering me assistance. I explained my dilemma by this time a second clerk had showed up and after listening to me I tole em I was thinking about getting the unit from the Orange BORG and doing it my self and was looking to see what my options were since I hated sweating on copper fitting. They suggested that Heidi was the one who was best to talk to and the called for her on the radio. Now I had vision of Heidi from tool time but was a little disappointed but as it turns out She knew her stuff. She showed up within 1 minute. After I explained to her my sad story. She said, you don't have to worry about soldering took me over to the fitting area and showed me the shark fittings and explained to me just how they worked then she said if I was to order the unit she was sure she could take care of setting me up with the fitting to make it and easy installation.
I went home to await the all from the Krystal Pure rep. By 5 o'clock I still didn't get a call back so based on the customer service I decided to order the unit from the Orange Borg (it was $20 more on Amazon and the freight would have added another $55). It will be in this week and I will continue the adventure. We will see how many trip I take to the store. Also since I visited 3 different store in one trip does that count as 1 trip or three in the total ?
 
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steve ramsey

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Messages
109
Location
Lafayette, IN
Installation with shark fittings should be pretty straight forward. Might take a couple of trips for the right fittings though. I would suggest putting in 3 valves, 1 on the incoming line, 1 on the outgoing line, and 1 on a bypass between the incoming and outgoing line. That way you can isolate the softner and maintain pressure to the rest of the house. You can use a fitting on your copper lines to transition to PEX tubing which is very easy to work with.
 

Don Baer

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Staff member
Installation with shark fittings should be pretty straight forward. Might take a couple of trips for the right fittings though. I would suggest putting in 3 valves, 1 on the incoming line, 1 on the outgoing line, and 1 on a bypass between the incoming and outgoing line. That way you can isolate the softner and maintain pressure to the rest of the house. You can use a fitting on your copper lines to transition to PEX tubing which is very easy to work with.
the new unit like the old unit has bypass valves built in. I will however put in a pypass system around the new whole house filter I am installing.
 

Ryan Mooney

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The Gorge Area, Oregon
Maybe call Culligan water systems. I used to have them and paid small monthly fee. They took care of everything.
I dunno, we had a Culligan at my last house. It had been installed by the previous owner and we took over the contract. It was getting a bit long in the tooth and was eating copious amounts of salt so I called them up. They wanted to sell me (up front cost) a smaller unit with poorer rating for more than a better/bigger unit we got orange borg with a one week delivery and then tack on the monthly "you don't actually own it charge" (I think the up front was mostly labor plus some sort of "swap out fee" bit in either case it all added up to more than just buying something comparable myself). I just put it in myself, wasn't super difficult other than the usual "it's plumbing" hassles. I paid back the cost of the new unit in less salt usage right about 5 months. So basically I was well ahead on all fronts.

Now it's certainly possible that the local office was just feeling especially mercenary at that point and others will treat you better... but if I was looking at one I'd sure carefully compare the payback times and relative upfront costs. Especially if you're half handy at DIY.
 

steve ramsey

Member
Messages
109
Location
Lafayette, IN
the new unit like the old unit has bypass valves built in. I will however put in a pypass system around the new whole house filter I am installing.
I understand the unit has bypass valve but you have to shut the water off to change it out. If you put in the bypass valves you can remove it in the future without affecting the rest of the system.
 

Don Baer

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ok technically this is day 3 (or is it 4) of the Sage. Yesterday I picked up the the unit and unloaded it but since it was late I waited until today to unpack it all. Thebrine tank is very similar to the old one with one major exception


The new tank has a plasticv insert that sits 6 inched above the bottom of the tank so the salt doesn't sit in the bottom of the tank
20200213_103616.jpg.
The resin tank needs to have the flow control installed and this is where the plumbing come in.
20200213_103828.jpg
and the rest of the parts
20200213_103816.jpg
 

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Don Baer

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I installed the flow control and checked the measurements and if I wasn't adding a pre-filter to the system it would be a simple hookup
20200213_165504.jpg

The 24 inch flex tubes would have made it a piece of cake
20200213_140642.jpg


But I will use one of them on the return line so it will simplify any alignment issues.
So now it is off to see Heidi to get the PVC to plumb the 5 micron filter.
 

Don Baer

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Well it turns out Hedi let me down and only had part of what I need so it was off the the Orange Borg to get the rest of the stuff. hard to believe there is $60 worth of suff there

20200213_140801.jpg

So I laid it all out to see that I needed and started to cut and glue the PVC together.

20200213_141342.jpg


half way through I decided to dry fit the rest and discovered that I need three more fitting to it was back to see Heidi.
 
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