With all the choices of water treatment equipment available now, it’s easy to become confused. Below is some information to help you as you make your decision.
What kinds of systems are available?
There are two major categories: “Point of use,” such as carbon filters and reverse-osmosis, are usually installed under the kitchen sink to improve the quality of your drinking water only. “Point of entry,” such as softeners and de-chlorinators, are installed on your main water line to improve the water for your entire home.
In this category, there are salt and salt-less, electric and non-electric, single-tank and twin-tank systems and specialty equipment for well water, which can have very challenging problems such as bad odor, rust staining and discoloration.
Also, compact condo systems are a rare specialty due to limited space. You may want a system from only one or both of these categories, so be sure to select a knowledgeable vendor.
Where can you get them?
Online The Internet offers a wide variety of choices, as well as lots of misleading and sometimes contradictory information. Many “rating” websites that appear to be impartial are in fact privately owned with the true identity of the owner hidden to mask their agenda of directing you to their own water treatment equipment websites.
If you buy on the Internet, you’ll have to install it yourself. Expect limited email or phone support after the sale and no local availability of advice, parts or supplies. Also, you may find that advertised return policies are difficult to enforce long distance.
Big-box While they tend to have low prices, big-box home improvement stores have a very limited selection and usually don’t offer installation, parts or service for the systems they sell. So, if you want to save money and you’re an expert do-it-yourselfer/tinkerer, a big-box retailer may be heaven for you.
Plumbers While some plumbers do offer a limited selection of basic water treatment components, most will admit that water treatment isn’t their cup of tea, but rather a specialty best left to the experts. If you’re okay with limited choices without much explanation, your local reputable plumber will be able to help or will refer you to someone who can.
Local water treatment dealers In Just about every city, you’ll find a mix of national brand affiliates as well as independent dealers who assemble their own systems from components they purchase from a variety of suppliers. History has shown the local water treatment industry to be rather transient, so be sure to verify how long a company’s been in business before you invite them into your home.
Every company offers a free water test, usually performed by a friendly salesperson. It’s important to be offered a wide selection of products, prices and payment terms to pick from along with an easy to understand explanation of the differences.
Keep in mind that a water treatment system is something your family will use every day, so it’s imperative that you make the best decision you can. Buying from the salesman that tells the best jokes or the saleslady that went to school with your uncle isn’t necessarily your best choice.
Avoid companies that throw-in a multi-year supply of soap and cleaning products, because with the right system, you can continue to use your favorite brands – just a lot less of them. Before you buy from a local dealer, be sure to ask them these important questions:
- Do they have their own staff for installation and service, or do they rely on subcontractors?
- Can they provide referrals from local customers that have been satisfied with their products and services for a long time?
- Are their products third-party certified for performance by NSF or WQA?
- Do they offer rentals and financing options?
- Do they offer salt and chemical delivery?
- Do they offer a written unconditional satisfaction guarantee? This type of guarantee shows you their confidence in their products and provides the assurance that you’ve made a good choice.
As you review the variety of sources discussed here, please keep in mind that water quality varies from area to area. Also, your water treatment system will need to be installed in accordance with local and state building codes, which may include permitting and will eventually need maintenance and service.
In summary, a local dealer that offers the same variety of choices as the Internet can provide expert guidance geared toward the exact water conditions in your home. If you’re not into the “do-it-yourself” (and “take-care-of-it-yourself”) concept, a local reputable dealer may offer the best solution to your water woes.