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water softener advice

4 replies [Last post]
Joined: Mar 25 2003

I'm looking to add a water softener to protect my new bathroom fixtures and glass shower door, not to mention our dishes and clothes, from hard water. How have others done this without having to soften the whole system (don't want to kill the grass over all). Can I just have the hot water system softened? Will this save money on installation?

Joined: Apr 5 2003

So here's one solution:

A previous owner split the incoming water line at the house shutoff valve. One side went straight to the sprinkler system and to pipes leading to faucets in the front and back yard; the other went into a water softener (an exchange tank from Rayne), then back and into the house. This works nicely -- the garden gets untreated water, and the house gets softened water. If you're planning on doing some serious renovation of your yard, it's a great solution. The only problem is that any taps on the outside of the house aren't useful for watering plants anymore. The worse part is that the only tap in our atrium is softened water. Considering how badly we treat our plants, getting salt-laden water isn't a big deal for them.

At one point, I got really frustrated with the idea of shoving all that salt in our water, so I started checking out alternatives. The neatest was the Aqa Total electronic system; they charge the water molecules so they don't stick to pipes and the like. Their industrial-scale equipment's used for boilers and building piping, and they had lab tests proving that their system actually worked. Their home system ran about $1500, but didn't require adding a drain line to the sewer (as an automatically regenerating salt-based system would.)

Unfortunately, their system only helps scale; the hard water still would keep soaps from working well, and that's a good part of the reason why we treat the water. I eventually gave up and stuck with the monthly replacement tank service.

When I last checked, there had been a distributor in San Diego importing these, and a dealer in San Jose selling 'em. I can't find them now, but searching for Aqa Total in Google turns up half a dozen dealers, and you'll eventually find product literature.

Interesting side note: I contacted the distributor in San Diego to figure out if their system would also help make soap effective in hard water. They said no, and mentioned that the systems were mostly bought by people in San Diego who had septic tanks; if I remember correctly, the county at some point demanded that new homes with septic systems couldn't use salt-based water softeners to avoid problems with salinity in the groundwater.

Hope this helps,


Joined: Mar 22 2005

Another alternative is the Sterling water conditioning system. It's also a system that charges water molecules.
It's available in the Bay area as well through plumbing distribution.

Hope this helps.

Classic volkswagen collector in spare time
Father, husband, homeowner, dog owner,'s amazing I'm still sane!

Joined: Feb 3 2005

Another option is using a kinetico water softner, very nice product. I've been very happy with it. It uses potassium, I know some are concerned about using salt. And it doesn't use electricity for operation, so it still producs soft water if the electricity goes out.

Joined: Mar 25 2003

I'm leaning toward a kinetico type system, but it's pricey and having treated water coming out of the faucet in the atrium is a big pain. This makes the electronic systems very interesting. My big question: do they work? Systems like the one at sound too good to be true. If they do work, it seems like they'd help prolong the life of the pipes. Is this true as well?

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