Aquatell vs Amazon Water Softeners January 20, 2020 18:52
We get lots of questions about how our water softeners compare to others on the internet. And the most common question we get is "why are your water softeners more expensive than Amazon?". It's a fair question and one that we're always happy to answer. We've given the "basic" answer first below, followed by a much more in-depth analysis for those who really want to dig in. And if there's anything you don't understand, please just ask us!
How Do Aquatell Softeners Compare to Amazon Softeners?
- Softeners like a "Fleck 5600" aren't a built system. They're a collection of assembled components. So our Fleck 5600 won't necessarily be the same as everybody else's (spoiler alert - ours is better!)
- Amazon vendors are notorious for lack of pre and post-sales support. Buying the correct softener is an important (and expensive) decision. We answer our emails and phone calls to help you.
- The control valve is one of two critical components (like the Fleck 5600). The other is the softener resin. We use upgraded resin that our competitors do not. This equals better performance and longevity.
- There is an increasing incidence of Amazon 3rd Party Sellers shipping counterfeit products.
- If the product is being shipped by Amazon from outside of Canada, the purchaser will be responsible for duty and tariffs.
- Some softeners on Amazon advertise as Softener + Iron Filters. All softeners will remove iron, including ours.
More Details on how Aquatell Softeners compare to Amazon Softeners:
What's In a Name?
Water softeners online are usually (and unfortunately) named for the control valve they use. A great example is the "Fleck 5600SXT Water Softener". It's unfortunate because it creates the impression that the Fleck 5600SXT is a system that is fully built when it leaves the factory, and that anybody selling one is selling the exact same one as all other vendors. This is just false. The Fleck 5600SXT (just like the Fleck 5810, Clack WS1) is simply a water conditioning control valve. Manufacturers of softeners, like Aquatell, take that control valve and then add the rest of the components to the build. So not only is the quality of those components critical (resin, for example) but the experience and skill of the assemblers is also important. We use really high-quality resin (10% cross-linked vs 8%) which provides more softening capability per cubic foot, and it's much more resistant to fouling and breaking down in a chlorinated environment. This simply means it will last longer. It's why we're able to commit to a 10-year warranty on our resin. This resin also happens to be a little more expensive than the other stuff, but that cost becomes a saving when you consider that it would be very unusual to have to replace the resin on an Aquatell softener at any point over its lifespan. This is not uncommon for inferior resins.
Pre & Post Sales Support
Buying a water softener is a pretty major purchase. If you have questions, you should have them answered by the manufacturer of the product, not by visiting a plumbing forum that will give you generic answers or by reaching out to your social network. Don't get us wrong, these can be important elements to any purchase, but probably shouldn't be your sole informational source for a $1000 purchase made online. At Aquatell we pride ourselves on putting customer education first (check out our Ultimate Guide to Buying a Water Softener) and we're happy to answer any and all questions you have about our products, including common questions like size and model selection. Put simply, we want you to be happy with your complete experience. So we'll go the extra mile up front to make sure you get what you need. And yes - this often means talking customers out of larger, more expensive systems that won't deliver any extra value than a cheaper model.
And once the purchase is made, we're still here for you! If you have questions about installation, programming, performance, or anything else, we're just as committed to getting these support questions quickly addressed as we are the sales questions. Don't take our word for it though, we have an amazing Google Vendor score, with many comments being made about our post-sales support.
Our softeners all carry a 5-year warranty on the control valve, a 10-year warranty on the tanks, AND a ten-year warranty on the resin! This is because we use a very high quality and expertly sourced 10% cross-linked resin. Cross linkage is an indirect measure of the hardness of the resin, it's capacity to soften, its resistance to being fouled by iron and manganese, and it's resistance to being broken down by chlorine. 10% cross-linked resin substantially outperforms 8% in every aspect. It's not a coincidence that we have chosen this resin product. We have chosen it so that the resin has a very high likelihood of lasting for the entire lifespan of the rest of the components. We understand that people are busy, and nobody wants to mess around with a resin replacement in 6 or 7 years, or go through the hassle and expense of buying a whole new system. We have built the softener that we would want to buy as consumers, plain and simple.
As of the writing of this blog entry (Jan 20th, 2020) all of the water softeners for sale on Amazon.ca ship from the United States. This has several consumer consequences.
- it creates very long lead times (why wait if you don't have to?)
- it increases the likelihood of long travel distances, which increases the chance of shipping damage (either seen or unseen)
- it creates a small chance that the order could be held at Canadian Customs
- if the product ships from the U.S. the buyer will be responsible for the duty and tariffs on the product.
- even if the product shows no HST in the shopping cart, Amazon will add it when the transaction is finalized.
The Counterfeit Possibility
In early 2019 Amazon acknowledged in their annual report that the prevalence of counterfeit products on their site - specifically with 3rd Party Marketplace retailers. While we have not seen any direct evidence of water treatment product knock-offs being sold online, there are many "hidden" components in a softener that could be substituted for inferior 3rd party products. This includes the control valve internal components, resin, tanks, and safety float, and interconnecting hardware.
Iron Removal By Softeners
Some of the softeners for sale on Amazon advertise that they are Softeners + Iron filters. All softeners (including those sold by Aquatell) will remove iron but, in our opinion, it is a little misleading to advertise like this. This is because there are two main forms of iron that can exist in water. One form, often referred to as "clear water iron" will be removed by a water softener - any water softener. But there is another form of iron, that will not be removed by any softener and it's important for consumers to know which kind they have. Also, the softeners on Amazon that advertise iron removal invariably use fine mesh resin. This is a type of resin where the particle size is very small so resin surface area is maximized. While this resin has the potential to remove slightly more iron than typically-sized resin, it absolutely has the potential to substantially increase pressure loss through the softener, and reduce home water flow. To make matters worse, fine mesh resin is always 8% cross-linked resin which is more prone to becoming fouled by iron over time. So the lifespan of fine mesh resin in an iron-rich environment will be short.
P.S. If you're thinking about buying a Fleck 5600SXT softener, you may want to think about an alternative. It's a fine system with a massive number of online reviews, but in our opinion it's dated and is missing some key technical features (like soft water brine tank refill), and its ease of use (installation, maintenance, repair) is inferior to our system that uses the Fleck 5800SXT.
What Flow Rate Can A Water Softener Handle? January 25, 2018 15:35
It's a question that we get all the time here at Aquatell - what is the flow rate that a water softener can handle? Customers don't know it when they ask it but this is actually two questions in one. Here's why:
- There's the flow rate that you can physically push through a softener not worrying about the softness of the water that exits the machine.
- Then there's the flow rate that you expect a softener to handle while providing you with soft water.
The reason for much of the confusion around this question is because many (actually most) water softener retailers state the maximum flow rate you can physically push through the softener (number 1 above) in the tech specs of their machines. Why? Because it's a bigger number and sounds better.
But it's much more accurate and responsible to use the flow rate that can actually be softened by the machine as the specified flow rate. This flow rate is determined by the amount of resin that a softener is built with. For hardness levels that aren't in excess of 50 grains per gallon (855 mg/L) a softener can produce about 5 U.S gpm of soft water flow for every cubic foot of resin the softener is built with.
That's another reason why here at Aquatell we describe the size of all of our softeners in terms of cubic feet of resin used in the build.
How To Clean the Injector on a Fleck 7000SXT Softener January 9, 2017 08:03
An injector? What gets injected into a water softener? Brine does! The injector is a small part that resides inside your Fleck 7000SXT water softener. The injector is responsible for helping to create the suction that draws the brine solution out of the the brine tank.
If the injector isn't working properly the system can't create a vacuum force, the brine never gets sucked up, and your softener doesn't regenerate. It might seem like it regenerates - you may hear it going through the motions - but because the brine never gets pulled through the resin, nothing useful has really happened and you still have hard water. Another sign is that your brine tank is filled up with a lot of water. You see, if the injector is clogged your softener only has a problem pulling water from the brine tank, but it can add to the brine tank without issue. So over time the brine tank fills up up up.
The injector can get clogged for a number of reasons, and here's how to clean it:
1. Bypass & Depressurize
Do this by first closing the bypass valve (turn the dial on each side of the bypass valve to the bypass position). With the unit in bypass force a regeneration by pressing and holding the Next Cycle button.
Press and hold the Next Cycle button until you hear the valve mechanism start to turn. When you see BW and a countdown not he screen, you’ll know that the unit is depressurized as it will have opened the drain port.
2. Open the Service Hatch and Clean Some Stuff
Located just behind the timer (the electronic part with the buttons on it) is a service hatch that is held in place with a red plastic clip. Remove the red clip, and then pull the service hatch off with a pair of pliers. What you'll then see is this:
First, pull out the filter screen and clean it, then make sure you put it back where it came from. Second, pull out the injector. It has a lip that you can grab with a pair of needle nose pliers but be careful not to damage it. When you pull it out it will look like this:
The injector is comprised of three interlocking parts. You need to pull these apart in order to clean it properly. While still holding the injector as shown above, pull on the yellow part. What you'll end up with in your pliers is this:
See that small hole? If you look at the end of this part, you should be able to see right through that hole. If you can't, use a paperclip or small wire to clean it out, but don't damage it. Set this now cleaned part aside. Now we'll deal with this part:
Holding this part as shown, turn the yellow part a quarter turn and it will detach from the purple piece. There's nothing you need to do with the yellow piece - just set it aside. The purple piece looks like this:
Again, this hole runs right through this piece, and if you look at the hole from the end you should be able to see daylight. If you can't clean this hole out with a paperclip or wire.
Now that the injector parts are clean, put the injector back together, and put it back in the control valve along with the cleaned filter screen. Put the cap on, then secure it with the red clip.
Since you had put the softener in regeneration mode to de-pressurize it, it will likely still be in this mode now that you're done. Before you put the softener back in service mode, press the Next Cycle button to skip from cycle to cycle until you're out of the regeneration.
Now turn the dials on either side of the bypass to put the softener back in service mode, and you're all done!
How To Do a Master Reset of Autotrol Logix 760 or 762 Controller January 6, 2017 16:49
The Logix 760 and 762 controllers are used primarily with the Autotrol 255 and 268 valves. There may come a time in the life of your water softener where you need to do a master reset of the Autotrol Logix controller. If your Autotrol control valve uses the Logix 760 or 762 controller then you can use these instructions to perform a master reset to get it back to the factory defaults. Warning - this reset procedure will erase all stored values including historical data. You'll know if you have a Logix 760 or 762 if yours looks like this:
Here's how to do the reset:
- Press and hold SET and DOWN simultaneously for 5 seconds.
- "H0" and the system’s set resin volume (or "F" mode) will be displayed.
- If a history value other than "H0" is displayed, use the up arrow to scroll through the settings until "H0" is displayed.
- To reset the control, press and hold SET for 5 seconds.
- The control will be reset to an un-programmed state.
The control valve is now reset to factory default values and you can proceed to the following resources for reprogramming instructions. Look for the section titled "Initial Setup"
The most important step in the initial setup is to make sure that the media volume is set correctly. Here are the grain capacities for water softeners and corresponding resin volumes:
- 24,000 grain = 0.75 cubic feet
- 32,000 grain = 1.0 cubic feet
- 40,000 grain = 1.25 cubic feet
- 48,000 grain = 1.5 cubic feet
- 64,000 grain = 2.0 cubic feet
- 96,000 grain = 3.0 cubic feet
If you happened to find this page because you're looking for a new Autotrol softener, you're in luck - we sell them! And you can find them here.
Brantford Ontario Water Hardness November 9, 2016 07:40
Hey - be careful Brantford! If you're looking for your water hardness level online, you may find some flat out incorrect information. Somebody has compiled a list of water hardness values for different cities across Ontario and the number shown for Brantford is incorrect.
The correct hardness value is 310 mg/L (same as ppm) which converts to 18 grains per gallon. This number comes right from the city itself. This water is very hard. In pretty short order, water with this hardness level will scale up faucets, tubs, kettles, dishwashers, and pretty much any water-using device. You can avoid damage to these items and generally make home cleaning and maintenance a lot easier with the use of a water softener.
Programming the Fleck 5600SXT softener valve for max efficiency November 8, 2016 11:54
As most Aquatell customers know, a water softener can be programmed a number of different ways, and some ways are much more salt efficient than others. Aquatell customers who buy a Fleck 5600SXT based softener, are shown the way to program the system to minimize salt consumption while still maintaining outstanding softening performance. The problem is that there are lots of folks out there who bought a 5600SXT-based system somewhere else and were never shown the way to make it work efficiently. That is, they were never shown the way to minimize salt consumption. And the difference between a non-efficient and efficient softener can literally mean hundreds of pounds of salt per year. So, no matter where you purchased your Fleck 5600SXT based softener, here are the programming instructions you can use to keep your salt consumption to a minimum. One quick word of warning - if your water has high iron (more than 2.0 mg/L) you may not want to use these settings. First things first - here are the buttons on the 5600SXT controller:
First we enter the master programming menu: set time to 12:01 pm (by pressing and holding up or down arrow, and once you see the time you want, press the enter button).
Now use these settings:
DF = GAL
CT = FD
NT = 1
The next setting that the controller will want you to program, is the Capacity (C) setting. The C setting differs depending on the 'size' of water softener you purchased. This is where things can get a little tricky as the size of a water softener is described differently by different companies. Use this chart to choose the C setting to program into the controller:
Size = 24,000 grain (may also be called 0.75 cubic feet) > Use 15 x 1000 for C setting
Size = 32,000 grain (may also be called 1.0 cubic feet) > Use 20 x 1000 for C setting
Size = 40,000 grain (may also be called 1.25 cubic feet) > Use 25 x 1000 for C setting
Size = 48,000 grain (may also be called 1.5 cubic feet) > Use 30 x 1000 for C setting
Size = 64,000 grain (may also be called 2.0 cubic feet) > Use 40 x 1000 for C setting
The next setting that the controller will want is your hardness setting (H). Use your hardness value in grains per gallon. If you have your hardness value in mg/L (or ppm) simply divide that number by 17.1 to get the hardness expressed in grains per gallon. Important: the hardness value you program is the hardness of your untreated water. It's not the hardness level you want in your softened water (this will always be very close to zero)
The next settings will be the same no matter the size of your softener:
RS = SF
SF = 5
DO = 7
RT = the time of day you want the softener to regenerate (most people use 2am)
BW = 10
BD = 60
RR = 10
The next setting is Brine Fill (BF). The BF value needs to be matched to the Capacity (C) value from one of the steps above. Here's how to choose the BF value:
If C = 15 x 1000 then BF = 3
If C = 20 x 1000 then BF = 4
If C = 25 x 1000 then BF = 5
If C = 30 x 1000 then BF = 6
If C = 40 x 1000 then BF = 8
Lastly, the meter type must be selected (FM). There are two main types of meters used with the Fleck 5600SXT. There is the turbine style, and paddlewheel style. You know if you have the paddle wheel style as there will be a cable in behind the control valve, that attaches to a dome:
If your Fleck 5600SXT meter looks like the one above, set the FM value to p0.7. If you have a wire coming out of the back of the Fleck 5600SXT controller that attaches to something that does not look like the photo above, set FM value to t0.7
That should do it! Now that the programming is done, use the up or down arrows (press and hold) to get the clock to the proper time, then press enter. You're done!