water softener assembly from parts?

Hello,
After researching the UK domestic water softener market it becomes obvious that many (if not most) products use common components from the same few manufacturers. In particular Autotrol and Fleck valves.
So I ask myself why pay a middle man's hefty mark-up when I should be able to do it myself. And, as an added bonus, a self-assembled unit should be cheaper to maintain.
So do people commonly assemble their own water softeners from commodity parts? The parts themselves do seem to be readily available. But alas the information and guidance is not.
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I looked at doing this at one point, but couldn't find a source of parts significantly cheaper than ready made units.
There are a few products sold with hefty margins, but if you shop around, prices are pretty good, so I decided not to bother. I may look again, though.
The main things, if you want to look into this, are the choice of the resin units to suit water usage - use the specs to determine size and type - and then a suitable valve to go with it/them.
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Andy Hall wrote:

Thanks for that Andy. It's interesting, analogous to wanting to assemble a PC only to find that PC World will do it just as cheaply!
I already have an 8-year old Kinetico which has now expired. It was while poking inside it that I realized how simply it could be assembled if only I had the right information.
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Hmm..
I have a Kinetico that is now 22 years old.
About 5 years ago, it developed a fault that the main valves were letting by and the regeneration cycle wasn't working.
I took it apart and discovered that two of the four valve plungers had split apart and that the metering wheel wasn't going round properly.
I found a local water softener outfit who weren't a Kinetico dealer (at least at the time) but were happy to source spares. Total outlay was about 30 in plungers and a new metering wheel. I decided that it was worth betting this much. Had it been 100, then no.
In the event, I stripped it down, cleaned it and fitted the replacements - I suppose it took an hour or so.
It's been performing faultlessly ever since. If it fails any time now, I am still ahead in terms of cash and time invested.
There's lots of gears and bits in the Kinetico control, but as long as one is meticulous about which bits belong in which layer, it's not difficult. The other two points are not to tighten the screws too much and to put silicone grease on the O-rings and seals
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Andy Hall wrote:

My Kinetico has a leaking cylinder (which could be replaced), a leaking inlet/outlet manifold (ditto), the meter would occasionally stick, and the unit would often fail to soften. I finally gave up on the unit when the Kinetico engineer proved unable to fix the leak. I declined his further services.
Perhaps I could buy the parts and fix the unit myself, but frankly it's caused so much trouble I just want to dump it.
One idea that does occur to me is to simply replace the Kinetico head with a commodity valve/controller. Then I could re-use the good cylinder and perhaps the enclosure too. But I need to research it more first.
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Given all of that, I don't think it's worth it.

I believe that they have their own fitting sizes etc. so probably not worth doing this.
Given all of that, by the time you buy all the bits, you will have been able to buy a new unit.
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Andy Hall wrote:

I wondered about that too, so I've carefully measured the fittings on my Kinetico head assembly:
- The tank thread is NPSM 2 1/2 inch (nominal) with 8 threads per inch. - The brine thread is NPT 3/8 inch (nominal) with 18 threads per inch. - The distributor tube is 1 1/16 inch, or 27mm.
These fittings are identical to those on the Autotrol 255 and Fleck 5600 valves.
So while Kinetico manufacture a proprietary head assembly, they use commodity components for the remainder of the unit.
This could get interesting.
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Kinetico is one of the water softener brands which are very much sold rather than bought and have a high mark-up to suit. I chose an Atlantis precisely because it was simply made using standard parts. I would avoid using the drinking water kit that they give you 'free' though - the connections on are uncommon so you're forced to use their cartridges the price of which have gone from GBP11.75 to GBP22 in less than 3 years. :(
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Si wrote:

I bought a Kinetico because I liked the idea of a non-electric metered unit with its constant supply of softened water. Had the unit been more reliable then I would have been happy. But evidently the price commanded by this product didn't translate into quality or reliability. I'll never buy a Kinetico again.
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Shame really.
I bought mine for much the same reason, and apart from the initial outlay, have spent about 30 on bits for it in over 20 years.
Howevr, had I experienced the same failures I would make the same decision about now buying one again.
The good news is that there are plenty of other metered valve controls around nowadays so you can still have the same principle, which I think is a good one. Some may need a little DC power supply, but I don't see a big issue with that. I just rather like the metering idea, and salt consumption is pretty good.
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Kinetico are not the only manufacturer to offer "non-electric metered units with its constant supply of softened water". Such units are manufactured in England with components suitable for British Water practises. Google 'East Midlands Water' for some examples.
--

Brian



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I found that people make their own water softeners in the US. They buy prefilled resin large tubes, you have to buy these else the resin "escapes", this is to do with the fact that the resin volume changes during use and if not in a strong container will rupture the container and escape. They installed these in their much larger than UK garages and just recharged by manually pouring in salt water, leaving and manually washing out every couple of months.
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from the

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"escapes",
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...hmmm... well not really. The resin potentially escapes as it is in the form of quite small granules. The resin bed in the container is held back from escaping by a filter formed from a fine nylon mesh. The containing cylinder needs to be strong as it may have to take mains water pressure. Ask why I know this: I use approx 21 tons of water a day spread over three shops and get the salt delivered by the ton load !
AWEM
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Andrew Mawson wrote:

Made me think of the QVC saleswoman this morning, licked one of the Pakistani Rock Salt Tea Light Holders and was surprised to find it really was salty!
Owain
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Yes, but QVC saleswomen will do anything for an order.
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Ian_m wrote:

Yes, the US water softener market does look more open and competitive than the UK one.
When searching for information I invariably end up at the websites of US manufacturers and retailers. These US sites provide lots of useful information, in marked contrast to UK sites which seem intent on disclosing as little information as possible.
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