Don’t buy a water softener based on price alone!

Don’t buy a water softener based on price alone, it will cost you in the end!

GE all in one water softener brine tank. One of the biggest problems with this type of softener is, you cannot easily clean out the brine tank portion of the unit on your own and must pay for someone qualified to do it.   Copyright John Warren /

Time and time again we have arrived to a customers house or business and find water softeners that are way too small for the water quality the customer has and they are complaining that something is just not right with the water. Low water pressure issues are another common complaint. We have attached some photos here which were taken of a GE water softener where the customers complaint was both low pressure and foul water and it was due to being sold a water softener that was way too small for his water quality coming from his well.

This particular unit appears to have never been cleaned out. The salt is loaded with sand and precipitated iron which, can clog the brine valve and not allow it to work properly. Copyright John Warren /

This customers main complaint? Poor customer service! He would call the company he purchased the equipment from and tell them something was wrong. A service person would show up and do what ever they were doing and charge him $160.00 and a few days later the water was back to being horrible again. This customer was billed $160.00, nine times in 2 1/2 months after, we reviewed the receipts to find out what they had actually done. That’s $1440.00 which was billed to this customer who is an elderly gentleman that can’t get out to work on the equipment himself and all they did, aside from simple things like check the sand trap filter (not pictured here), as noted on one of the receipts, was to put the GE water softener in a regeneration and then leave.

The lower portion of the brine valve so encrusted with precipitated iron, it would not open and close properly and had become clogged not allowing the salt water brine to be pulled into the softener curing regeneration. Copyright John Warren /

We did a water test and found his incoming water was 16 grains hard and he had 3.5 parts per million of iron coming from the well, this is a water quality of 33.5 (3.5 X 5 + 16). His water softener was a 26,400 grain unit and with a reserve of 25% which, left him with 19,800 grain trigger capacity would need to regenerate every two days. If you look at this in a gallon aspect, he would have 591 gallons of water to work with before the unit would need to regenerate. 2 people reside in the house; him, his home bound wife and three dogs and they have a pool. So, after a little chat about water usage we found they use about 300 gallons a day between the two and the dogs. This means the unit would need to regenerate every two days and would make available 776 gallons of soft water and a regeneration would be triggered when they use 591 which, would leave a reserve of 185 gallons to get through the day.

Upper distributor basket fully encased in minerals and iron deposits, showing a total lack of maintenance by the company that was charging the customer to take of the equipment. Copyright John Warren /

Does your head hurt yet? Just wait, it gets better! Remember the pool I mentioned? Ordinarily, adding a bit of water to a pool due to evaporation is not a big deal for people who have a water softener if, this is taken into consideration when recommending a system capable of handling the water demand, the customer will have. In this case the pool was totally left out of the equation and to make matters worse, the customers pool pump had a substantial leak which, increased the amount of water he had to add to his pool on a regular basis. So, a service person during one of they’re visits, decided to change the water softener from being a metered unit, to a time clock unit and forced it to regenerate every day which, added $300.00 a year to the customers yearly salt bill.

The softening media resin within the media tank was almost totally solid from being iron bound because there was no salt being pulled in during regeneration. Copyright John Warren /

Upon inspecting the water softener and it’s operation we found a lot wrong with it. Number one! The drain was underground and clogged up which, meant it could not flush out all the hardness and iron it took in. The water softener became iron bound and became clogged with iron bacteria, calcium and magnesium (hardness). The water pressure had dropped greatly and foul water was being sent into the house. The control sitting on top of the tank was leaking down the side of the tank which, left iron staining on the outside of the tank and because this was a GE style, all in one cabinet unit, the rust was running down into the salt.

Softening media resin after being pulled from the media tank shows the build up of iron covering the resin. Copyright John Warren /

The salt also had sand in it. So we decided to check the sand trap filter but, could not open the filter housing. The housing was so encrusted with calcium due to a leak, it could not be opened. If there was service being done at $160.00 a pop, this should have been the first thing that would have been checked but, obviously was not and had not in a very long time, even though, one service person noted that he checked it.

Looking down at the top of the media tank with the encrusted, upper distributor basket. Copyright John Warren /

We removed the controller from the top of the tank to inspect the resin beads. We found the distributor basket which, keeps the resin from coming out of the tank during backwash, was totally clogged. The resin was iron bound to the point it was totally unsalvageable. The meter impeller was clogged with harness and iron and would not spin which, is surely the reason the unit was changed to a time clock system without notifying the home owner of the problem or the change.

After showing the customer everything that was found, needless to say, he was furious and honestly, so was I. This is a terrible way to treat a person! If you have a company that is being paid to take care of your water system and the water is still not right, do not continue to pay that company! Get a second opinion from a company that won’t charge you if, they have to come back out because something is still not right.

Although broken, this photo shows the in and out ports of the bypass. Since, both ports show staining, it is safe to say the machine was not removing all of the iron from the water. Copyright John Warren /

Water softeners are designed to remove hardness from the water and are very poor at removing iron. When deciding to purchase a water softener, ask how many days are between registrations; this will give you a good idea of how much money you will save every year in salt and if the unit will be capable of handling your water needs. A water softener that needs to regenerate every seven days is more desirable than one that has to regenerate every day or even every two days. Always ask how much iron is in your water; anything above 1 PPM should be dealt with by a unit that will remove all the iron and take the heavy load off the water softener and uses no chemicals.

The underside of the top distributor basket, after it was removed from the media tank showing, the build of deposits that should have been removed during a maintenance check of the water softener. Copyright John Warren /

Never, buy a water softener based on price but, rather based on capacity then, compare prices. If you need a 64000 grain capacity system, buying a 30000 grain system because it costs less, will cost you more money over time than a 64000 grain system plus the loss of savings in salt every year and all the headaches and grief this customer was given. Plus, the GE water softeners which are sold as Ecowater system, Kenmore and others, are hard for a home owner to maintain.

Water softeners can save you money every month because, you will use less soap and other cleaning products. If the water softener is properly sized for your particular water quality (determined by water test) you can save a lot of money. You will be able to use 50% – 75% less soap than you would with hard water. However, if you purchase a water softener that is too small for your particular water quality, headaches and regret will surly follow!

Aquatek Pro Water Purification Co. does not sell GE all in one water softeners due to many of the reasons mentioned in this article. We can however inspect them and in many cases repair them but, when they get this bad, we recommend looking at another option that will handle the poor water quality coming from the well.


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