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kate_ca

Culligan vs. Kinetico for very hard water

kate_ca
14 years ago

We just moved into a 3 year old house. The previous owners did not have a water softener, even though the water hardness here is 24 GPG! Another issue here is a slightly high iron content.

This is, hopefully, a long-term house for us. We want a high quality, low maintenance water softener that will last and not wear out b/c of the extreme water hardness. (If we move, we'll take the softener with us anyways.) More than a few neighbors have mentioned that they have bought softeners at Lowe's or Sam's and that they are generally lasting only a year or so.

We are also interested in a carbon filter system, either to be installed at a later date or with the water softener. We might test out the softener and see what we think we need from that point. Chlorine content is pretty low, so we are thinking maybe we won't want the filter.

The Culligan man was here tonight. He seemed knowledgable, though rather old-school (poo poo'd needing a filter and found using potassium in the softener as vaguely strange). He was not a hard-sell or "presentation" kind of guy, and that was a relief. At the hardness of water we have, his recommendation was pretty much only their "problem water" unit, which is obviously, the most expensive but had a very healthy warranty.

The Kinetico man is coming tomorrow night.

Does one brand offer us any thing the other doesn't in terms of the iron content and the desire/need to add a filter, too?

Or, are they both similar in quality and design/technology and therefore we should make price a main deciding factor?

Thanks.

Comments (23)

  • justalurker
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Hi Kate,

    Both the Culligan and Kinetico are ion exchange water softeners but then they differ...

    With your water there's no question in my mind that the Kinetico is a wiser choice.

    First, it is a twin resin tank softener. That means you have soft water 24/7 withour interruption. Second , the Kinetico is a "upflow" regenerating softener which provides more thorough and efficent regeneration of the resin. With your hardness and iron a Kinetico with proper routine maintenance should go 15-20 years before it requires service or repair.

    Kineticos cost more but amortized over their 20 year life they are a wise investment. And, when those 20 years or so are up you call the local Kinetico dealer and they'll come rebuild the control and replace the resin and you go another 20 years.

    Kinetico has built up a large and loyal customer base. The people who criticize Kinetico are the ones who have to sell against them.

  • AliceHasLeftTheBuilding
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    In case you want an opinion from someone with no vested interest in a particular brand (I do not sell any form of water treatment equipment, but previously spent many years as a water treatment engineer at an industrial facility) - you may want to look at more options. I do agree that Kinetico makes a fine product, but their much higher cost can be prohibitive for many home owners. What you get for the extra couple of thousand $ is 24/7 soft water and a non-electronic control system. Do you typically need 24/7 soft water? Probably not. We're talking about 2-3 hours, in the middle of the night, every few days for a normal household. Generally not a big deal. The control system is nice, but Kinetico is less willing than most to share information about programming and repair with consumers. They require a costly service call.

    If reliability over many years is your only priority, you may want a Kinetico. However, amortized over 20 years, you will likely find that the additional benefit of the Kinetico is outweighed by the up-front cost. There are many very reliable units with Fleck controls that run with zero problems for 15-20 years at half the cost. Your best option will just depend on where your priorities lie. Remember, ANY softener will fail if not given proper maintenance by the homeowner on a regular basis.

    I found, at least in my area, that water treatment "professionals" know a lot about how to sell equipment and very little about water chemistry and the fundamental operation of softeners. Of course, there are exceptions, but most get minimal education about the basics and will fall back on trying to sell the unit that makes them the most $, not necessarily the unit that best meets your needs. Since your water softening happiness will depend so much on the sales rep, your best strategy may be to talk to your neighbors about who they use and their level of confidence in the equipment and rep. Do they have any signs of hard water build-up? Do they get service quickly when they need it? Don't get too hung up on a specific brand (and always ask those giving advice if they have any affiliation with the brand they are touting).

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  • justalurker
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Just to keep everything on the up and up... "In case you want an opinion from someone with no vested interest in a particular brand (I do not sell any form of water treatment equipment".

    I have no vested interest in a particular brand and I do not sell any form of water treatment equipment.

    Kate asked about Kinetico and that is what I directed my post to.

    It's easy to search this forum and see very few posts regarding Kinetico and most of those posts are glowing recomendations from long time Kinetico owners.

    As far as "their much higher cost can be prohibitive", around here Kinetico is priced competetively with Culligan, Rayne, Rainsoft, and Eco.

    There are multitudes of options available to anyone shopping for water treatment equipment, some good, some less good, and some very bad.

    For the greater percentage of water treatment customers who just want soft water and don't want to learn how to fix softeners... with real estate it's location, location, location, and with water treatment it's DEALER, DEALER, DEALER.

  • kate_ca
    Original Author
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Thanks for the replies! I have been searching past posts all over the web looking for info. :) You guys are familiar faces.

    I cannot seem to find any local info on how to get a Fleck or a Clack unit. Is that something I could call a plumber for? I know I can order them online, but I do want a twin tank system and I would like it installed by someone who can also advise on and install a whole house filter, should we decide to move forward with one. That's why we were primarily looking at dealers. My husband is in commercial construction, and isn't afraid of DIY at all, but the water is just soooooo bad here that we feel a dealer familiar with the area is probably the way to go.

    The Culligan unit, since it was the "problem water" unit was very well built and had a great warranty. But, yeah, it was nearly $2000 with no filter. He said they have 30-some units of all price ranges, but for our area, the "problem water" one is the only choice.

    I'm interested to see what the Kinetico guy says as I assumed they'd be more expensive. Both do a lot of installs around here, and are very familiar with the bad water situation.

    Our neighbors have Kinetico and they made it sound like they only spent around $2000 AND they got a filter. I assumed Culligan would be cheaper, but I guess we'll see.

    Kinetico's 24/7 aspect is nice, but probably won't really be a factor in our situation. No one works night shift or anything here. Both are twin tanks. Kinetico's lack of electronics are nice, but the Culligan man said he's not seen problems with their electronics. And, that since its a twin tank system, it is situated above the tank that is less likely to cause problems from vapor or whatnot.

    The engineer in me sees the "beauty" of the Kinetico though.

    Can someone explain the benefits of the "upflow" regeneration?

  • justalurker
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    The advantage of the twin resin tank softener is that it regenerates exactly when one tank is depleted and switches service over to the other tank which is more efficent water and salt (potassium, if you choose) use.

    Also, The Kinetico regenerates the resin AND makes the brine with softened water which makes the resin last longer. In high hardness and iron water conditions I don't like the idea of regenerating the resin with the untreated water, kinda like washing clothes with dirty water if that makes sense, but that's just my opinion.

    Since your neighbors have Kineticos, and are on the same water as you, ask them lots of questions. Ask about the Kinetico dealer, good service after the sale?

    As far as local indpeendent water treatment pros, look to the Yellow Pages, usually under "water treatment".

    Upflow or countercurrent regeneration, regenerates the resin in the opposite direction of the water service providing a more thorough regeneration, more complete rinse, and longer resin life. You can Google "upflow regeneration" or countercurrent regeneration" to satisfy your engineering curiosity with way more info than you'll ever care to read.

  • kate_ca
    Original Author
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Thanks much.

    I post back after we talk to the Kinetico man.

    "way more info than you'll ever care to read" is about right. I had no idea going into this that water softening was such a huge issue!

  • asolo
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    24 grains is up there. I'd keep this local...with folks who have plenty of experience dealing with what you have there. Water is pretty basic. I wouldn't scrimp. You'll curse while writing the check but you'll enjoy the benefits every day.

    FWIW...I've had Kinetico at two locations for 15 years. Just refurbished both. Zero trouble along the way.

  • AliceHasLeftTheBuilding
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    You're on the right track, but you may want to consider other local dealers. Unless you live in a small town, there should be other dealers around besides Culligan and Kinetico. Check around, look in your yellow pages, do an online search, etc. I've not personally been very impressed with the "Culligan man" but your area may be different. Ask about qualifications: How did the rep learn about water treatment? How much training did he receive on the equipment? How much water chemistry training (this is the area sorely lacking in most)? How quickly will they be there in the event of a problem? Will you be dealing with the same person when you have a problem or will you have to call some corporate office? Whatever you look at, however, DO NOT even consider any softener that mixes carbon with the resin. These are bad systems for a whole host of reasons that have been listed in great detail in other threads.

  • kate_ca
    Original Author
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Well, the Kinetico guy was here.

    Their system is impressive. He was very well qualified (Certified Water Specialist VI by the National Water Quality Association) and not at all pushy. He outlined the differences, poked a few holes in the "lifetime warranty" from Culligan, and highlighted how Kinetico's were different. (Including the RO and the dechlorinator systems.) He gave his schpeel and said this is that last we'd hear from him. He won't be calling back bugging us, which is very nice, actually!

    The Culligan Man said we'd need to use the problem water unit, which was naturally the most expensive of the many they offer. The Kinetico Man said we'd be well-served by their 2nd *least* expensive unit. He could go with the least expensive, but would benefit from moving up one model in regards to the iron level here.

    Their warranty was only 7 years, but it covers every single part on the thing AND labor for that time. Culligan excludes many, many parts - leaving very little that is "lifetime warrantied".

    I also liked Kinetico's RO and dechlorinator systems, should we decide to go with those items.

    So, given that the Culligan was only a hair cheaper than Kinetico, it's off the list.

    We'll next look into a Fleck or a Clack unit. If money were no object, we'd have the Kinetico on order though!

  • asolo
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    FWIW, I don't know if Kinetico trains that into them or what. 15 years ago when I bought my units my experience was similar. The guy that came had certifications higher than anyone else I talked to. Gave his schpeel. Thanked me for my time and consideration and promised that he WOULDN'T call back.

  • kate_ca
    Original Author
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Oh, I'm sure it is part of their schpeel not to call back. But, as I WAS actually dreading that part of it, I appreciated hearing that. ;)

    re: the water certification, I'm not sure what it really means, other than he did jump through the hoops to get there. He did "talk the talk" with my husband who got some very pointed questions to ask from a major metro water utility chemist, who is a friend of a friend. He's not in our water district. This acquaintance has a top notch RO and softener. Said he wouldn't dare drink the water from where he works without them!

  • justalurker
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    What water certification means is that he/she understands what they are talking about and that they are not just sales parrots.

    You'll find that the Kinetico installation people and service people are every bit as competent.

    Those are some of the reasons that Kinetico has built up great owner loyalty. You pay more but you get more.

    As far as Clack or Fleck... Clack does not make a control valve for a twin resin tank softener so comparing to a Kinetico is apple to orange. If you're considering a single resin tank softener then Fleck offers the 5600SE, 2510SE, and 7000. All nice valves. The 5600 and 2510 have been in the field for decades. Parts lists and tech info is available for free download.

    Fleck offers the 9000/9100 series control valves for twin resin tank softeners. It is electrically powered and a little annoying to program but not real hard. Once it is programmed you pretty much leave it alone. I like putting electrically powered softeners on a small (350va or larger) computer UPS to protect from power surges, spikes, and broewn outs. On sale around $30 or so at the local computer discounters and cheap insurance.

  • kate_ca
    Original Author
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    So, how do I find a Fleck valve unit? I can't find anyone locally.... Are they something I need to order online? My husband is in construction (concrete), and is DIY-handy when he wants to be, but has very little interest in installing a water softener on his own! So, I'd have to find a plumber to install it, unless my husband got motivated for the task. But, there are many other "new to us" house projects he's more interested in at the moment. ;)

  • justalurker
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Kate,

    To buy a Fleck based softener locally you need to find a water treatment pro. Look to the Yellow Pages, usually under "water treatment".

    If you had email turned on in your profile I could recommend a good place to shop if you want to DIY but it's bad form to discuss that on the forum.

  • jelaby1_juno_com
    10 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    One thing that all have left out is that Kinetico units have a laborious amount of moving parts that even their own people don't like working on.

    They are maintenance heavy units, and even hard to put into manual regeneration, which requires using a tool, vs. the Culligan units, which have user-friendly controls.

    And good luck getting someone to come out and service your unit in timely fashio once you have problems! If they come at all..

    At least Culligan does seem to have their own people trained to work on the units. And I've experienced good response time with them coming out to service a non-Culligan softener..

    The Kinetico concept seems kind of antiquated to me. Who doesn't want an appliance of any kind that doesn't run on some kind of electricity??

    And how much do you really save by not having power?? A couple bucks a year maybe..

  • Biroski77_yahoo_com
    10 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Hi Kate and the rest go gave their comments,

    I am in a situation right now to choose between culligan and kinetico (clearwater). Kate, what did u get anyway, is it worth it? Thanks.

  • samiqbal
    6 years ago

    hello

    Need to know system for 6500 square foot home.

    Trying to compare

    Rainsoft v/s kinetico V/s Culligan v/s NuovoH20

    Thanks for brief but to the point input.

  • Cely Romero
    3 years ago

    I'm now in the situation of deciding between Culligan & Kinetico. Culligan is offering me a free reverse osmosis after learning from me that the reason that I don't like RO is that the water is all acidic because they take out the minerals. I had acid reflux and for the last 7 years drinking the RO water my acid reflux got worst. Hence, I told Culligan that I'll get Alkavida instead because, with their whole house system, they are giving their RO with alkaline for free. However, my research shows that their softener and carbon are not NSF/ANSI or WQA certified. However their RO is. Hence, Culligan offered me a free RO. Although I won't be able to drink water from any RO, they said that I can use clean water for cooking and ice in the refrigerator which I think is right. It's either I will buy the Alkavida RO with alkaline which is very expensive or just go for the free RO from Culligan and get the bottled alkaline water for drinking. Can anyone please give me your comments/input. Culligan with free RO or Kinetico without RO. Thank you.

  • Jake The Wonderdog
    3 years ago

    Hi Cely Romero


    So it would be good if you would start your own thread instead of tagging on the end of a 10 year old thread.


    There's a ton of information on here about water softeners already - and the information hasn't changed much. Read through some of it then post your specific questions on a new thread and we will try to help you.



  • Stephanie Borg
    last year

    Hey chasmw_aol_com any chance this comment holds up 10 years later?

  • Vicki L Berg
    4 months ago

    Just read “chasmw” response. He answers all the concerns. I have had Kinetico for 15 years with no issues and did deep research before purchasing. No need to over think this, just go with the best...Kinetico. Also installed under kitchen sink water purifier by Kinetico drinking water is delicious.

  • Jake The Wonderdog
    4 months ago
    last modified: 4 months ago

    So, Alice has the right answer:

    Kinnetico differentiates itself in ways that don't matter.

    Twin tanks - so you have continuous soft water vs not having soft water once every 10 days at 3AM.

    Not using electricity - about 2 buck a year.

    Using soft water to backwash - ummm, ok... No, it's not like "washing your clothes in dirty water" - but the imagery is intentionally effective and misleading. Keep in mind that shortly after regeneration the resin will have unsoftened water going through it. Not to mention the water that my softener uses to backwash is exactly the same source as my drinking water. If it's fine to drink, it's fine to backwash the resin.

    None of that nonsense matters one bit.

    .

    Kinnetico is overpriced for the hardware and for the service - and you will never make up that difference in a longer service life. Not ever.

    My $600 Fleck based unit with 10% crosslinked resin takes my 21 grain per gallon water and softens it to less than 1 grain - as measured with my Hach test kit. That's ALL I need it to do.

    None of the other stuff matters. The $2,000 Kinnetico will not make your water "more soft".

    The resin on my standard water softener will last 12-15 years before it needs to be re-bedded and the Fleck 5600sxt valve is one of the most dependable on the market - as well as being very common. Rebuild kits are readily available for $50. The entire valve is $200-250.

    After 15 years I could even replace the ENTIRE unit (wasteful, but I could) and then do it again in another 15 years and still not cost what the Kinnetico costs.

    Bottom Line: A very reliable, very serviceable and long-lasting water softer can be purchased that will soften your water for 1/3 - 1/2 the cost of the Kinnetico.

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