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The Hard Water Corner

Common sense information about a common problem.

Homeowner How To's, Before You Call For Service

Before You Call for Service head set girl 

This blog is dedicated to homeowners everywhere who know little to nothing about water softeners. Every day we receive calls about water softeners in Jacksonville FL. Most calls are from homeowners that are unfamiliar with water softeners and how they work. The top two reasons a water softener stops working can be easily corrected by you the homeowner. And we have put together the following info that I think you will find helpful.

Water Softener Not Working #1 Loss of Power

I don’t mean to sound like captain obvious here but we run service calls every month where a water softener has simply become unplugged. Most/all water softeners use electricity to keep the time of day and track your usage data. Just this morning I was called to a home in Nocatee were the water softener was not working. I noticed that the screen was blank. To the customers defense the water softener was buried behind a pile of interesting garage stuff that blocked access to the unit. After a few seconds of looking around I found the plug was half pulled out of the wall outlet. Plugged her back in and now all is right with the world. Or at least all is right with His water softener again.

The second reason for a loss of power to a water softener is a tripped GFCI outlet. A GFCI is basically a special circuit inside a garage designed to automatically turn off power to the garage outlets if there is enough moisture inside the garage. If a GFCI trips then it will likely turn your water softener off. To resolve push the “Reset” button in the middle of the outlet. Presto you’re back in business.

However if you water softener is plugged in and the GFCI circuit is fine and your water softener still won’t turn on then you need a service call. Of the available areas it’s more likely to be a transformer or wire problem and less likely to be the PC board that controls the water softener. In either case your water treatment dealer should be able to fix it from there.  If not call me.

Water Softener Not Working #2 No Salt or a Salt Bridge

Long story short water softeners use salt to displace the hardness minerals that are in our water. All of Jacksonville FL is measurably the hardest water in all of Florida making a water softener a must.  To keep water softeners running you must have salt inside the brine tank/ salt pot. Please refer to our blog “adding salt to a water softener” for more detailed information. If the salt pot runs out of salt you will not have soft water inside your home.

Secondly sometimes the salt can form a salt bridge. A salt bridge forms when the dry salts above the water level melt slightly and fuse together at the top of the tank. In this case the water softener could be regenerating without using the salts thus no soft water for you. When your salt level does not go down for a long period of time say a month or so you may have a salt bridge.

The solution to a salt bridge is to use a shovel or baseball bat to break up the salt bridge. You might want to stretch to avoid injury before you begin because it will take a lot of physical effort. A salt bridge can be like breaking up concrete. Once you break through the salt will fall down to the bottom of the salt pot. Note, if you are having this problem redundantly then try not filling your brine tank up all the way. Keep it half full or less to avoid bridging.

Water Softener Not Working #3 valve seals or brine piston malfunction

If your system is still not working after the first two items then your system may be in need of repair or replacement. Each valve has a set of seals or mechanics whereby it inserts the salt into the water softener tank. If a seal is torn or a mechanical valves gears are stripped then you will need to have these parts replaced before your water softener will work again. Depending which kind of water softener you have in Jacksonville FL will determine how much money it will cost. And when I say the word money I am pronouncing it like Kevin O’Leary (Mr. Wonderful) from Shark Tank pronounces it. Just kidding. But as a rule of thumb older mechanical Fleck valves are very costly to work on and repair compared to digital valves. Fleck water softener valves have 5 times the internal moving parts than digital valves. A Fleck repair takes up to 4 times longer in time to repair than a digital 3M water softener or a Clack water softener valve. In either case a service call will be needed to replace the internal parts and get your water softener working properly again.

Do You Have a Water Technologies Water Softener? 

Please note that Florida Water Technologies Inc. is not the manufacturer of this water system. We do provide service for these systems however we are limited and only serve North East Florida or the greater Jacksonville area. If you look closely at the logo it does not say Florida Water Technologies Inc. The system is distributed by Coast Pump Water Technologies Inc. thus the little c and the little p on the logo.

If you have any questions please drop me a comment and I will get back to you at my earliest convenience.


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What is The Difference Between Water Softeners?

shrugged shoulders

People ask me all the time what the difference between water softeners are. There are lots of water systems and lots companies that sell them. In fact, I just Google searched for “water softener Jacksonville FL” and there are 35,400 search results. Holy Cow. So I wanted to provide a road map of simple ways for you to define the differences between water softener companies and make a well informed decision. The main differences that you will encounter are price point, warranties, and company reputation.

Price Point.

Price simply put is how much you will pay a company after all taxes and fees for the installation of a water softener system?

 Water softener companies in Jacksonville FL have different price points. In fact prices will vary greatly depending on which company that you consult. Some smaller mom and pop companies that sell softeners from their homes garage, meaning they have no business location, will range from $1200 to $1500 including installation. While other companies that utilize pushy telemarketing campaigns to solicit you will range from $5000 to $7000 or more! An obvious question you may have is, “so, what’s the difference between these systems since the price is so much different?” The answer is probably not much. In fact they probably both will soften your water, they will both use salt to do it…etc. The difference is business philosophy and ethics. Personally, knowing the cost of the equipment and the cost of running a water business, I believe charging $5000 to $7000 is unethical. But that is my opinion. And I can see how my opinion can be considered bias since I run a water business. So, I want to offer you some hard data on water softener prices. The annual dealer survey for 2014, which surveys most water companies in America, stated that the median cost was $1600 while the average cost was $1850. That’s it. If you receive a price from a company that is two to three times than this amount it would benefit you to get a second opinion.

A recent client of ours had a water softener company pitch them at $6000 initially but just after a few minutes of back and forth the company was down from $6000 to $3000. I think that you would agree that most people would interpret this kind of sales practice as shady and un called for.


What are your responsibilities with the new water softener and what are the responsibilities of the company selling the system to you in both parts and labor?

There are two ways to buy a water softener that will dictate warranties and service. The first way, like the mom and pop shop mentioned earlier, is to purchase a whole sale brand of softener from a reseller (mom and pop). This transaction is interesting because even though the manufacturer has a parts warranty you may not end up benefiting from that warranty. The reason is twofold. First, the brand that you purchase, let’s use Clack for an example, does not have an infrastructure that is designed to communicate with every end user of their products. Clack is a very reputable company and one of the most successful component manufacturers in the world but their infrastructure is modeled to deal directly with the supplier (middle man in between mom and pop and Clack) not the end user. You see most manufacturers will only ship in quantities requiring a single order to completely fill a 53’ eighteen wheeler. Mom and pop can’t place an order that large but a supplier can. Then mom and pop can purchase one to two units at a time as needed. Now, say you purchase from mom and pop and they go out of business or decided they have had enough of the entrepreneur lifestyle, do you still have a warranty? Hmm…Probably not. We call it our principle of 15. We receive on average 15 calls per month from customers seeking service for their water softener that cannot find the mom and pop style company that sold it to them. When we provide service for these individuals they are likely to pay for the service call parts and labor because I have no way of knowing which supplier originally supplied the unit and how much warranty is left.  If you called the manufacturer, and IF someone calls you back, they will instruct you to contact the company that installed it originally. Back to square one we go.

The other way is to purchase a national brand like 3M, Culligan, Kenitico or Rainsoft. National brands should have a customer support infrastructure that allows the end user (you) to reach out to the manufacturer directly. And national brands should have more than one participating dealer within the region in which you live. For example 3M has three east coast dealers within a three hour drive and our customers have access to 3mwater.com were you can register your product and communicate via live chat at any time. Unlike the previous scenario with mom and pop a national brand will have a much stronger network to serve its customers.

Company Reputation:

It still amazes me that some customers will buy a water softener that is priced two to three times more than their actual value from a company that they have never heard of who methodically produces negative customer experiences. But it happens.

Over the years we consumers become more and more empowered by the internet. For companies who consistently produce negative customer experiences this is not good. It’s seems that you can post an online review or opinion almost anywhere. And on certain third party sites like Google and the BBB, there is absolutely nothing that companies can do to remove or un-post a review they are permanent. What you see is generally what you get. You now have a fairly reliable crystal ball. Mostly positive, hit and miss, or consistently negative experiences with water softener companies is now up to you. Can mistakes happen? Absolutely. But companies that maintain a consistent positive reputation do so by taking care of customers when things don’t go to plan.

To sum up.

Most people don’t mind paying a fair price for a water softener. However what they don’t want is to get ripped off or to receive incompetent customer support down the road. I hope this post today helps you with your research on purchasing a water softener. At the end of the day the biggest difference between water softener companies is the price that you will pay, the warranties that you have and the reputation of the servicing dealer that you have to live with. If you have a question or a story that you would like to share please contact us. 

I am adding this thread to my blog because i want your help. Last night i met with a couple who had a water softener company from Home Depot attempt to sell a water system for $7000!!! We saved them tons of money with our straight forward common sense pricing. Have you received an outrageous price for a water system? Share your story with us. 

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Who Can it Be Now

Who Can it Be Now?

You may ask yourself, “Why do they keep knocking on my door to sell me stuff?” If you were raised in or around the 80’s you may recall the popular Men at Work song, “Who Can It Be Know?” A fitting lyric for todays blog from the song states, “All I wish is to be alone, stay away don’t invade my home.”

GreenleafToday we will look at some things to consider when sales people knock on your door in an attempt to sell you a water softener. Door knocking is bothersome practice by a lot of water softener dealers in Jacksonville Fl and surrounding areas. The reason companies partake in this practice is because it is relatively cheap marketing for them. However it is annoying and bothersome to you. Most to all neighborhoods are deed restricted and door to door solicitation is not allowed. Just the other night in Nocatee’s Greenleaf Village I was on a water softener sales call and ran across this sign. Your community like this one in Nocatee more than likely prohibits solicitors entering your community.

3 Problems with Water Softener Solicitors (This is Who it could be Knocking at your door)

 1.   You’ll overpay

When it comes to buying a water softener in Jacksonville FL, purchasing from a solicitor could be a raw deal for you. I talk to people all the time and they tell me how much they paid for a water softener from some guy that knocked on their door. The amounts vary greatly and can be quite staggering. Companies that knock on doors as a primary marketing strategy often times charge 3 to 5 times more for water softeners than what water softeners are actually valued at. Also, water softener companies that charge these unjustified prices usually have poor online public reputations. In addition to overpaying you are also likely to receive poor or no customer service after the sale.

2.   If they go out of business you will not have a warranty or service after the sale

Another problem buying a water softener from a solicitor is they often go out of business. A lot of times in this business an individual will leave a successful national franchise brand and think they can run a business themselves. However the new dealer is faced with a predicament, no one has ever heard of them or the brand they are trying to sell. So off to the neighborhoods they go to knock on your door. Most times these style of businesses are run out of the individual’s home with a PO Box as a business address. A lot of times these style businesses do not have an EIN number, Insurance, or a license.  I have personally met guys that after trying to run their own business they return to their previous employer to get their old job back. Don’t be guanine pig for some guys experiment. In the past 6 months we have had two brand new competitors open water softener businesses and one of them is already out of business.

3.   Stranger

The common sense reason to not buy from a door to door solicitor is you don’t know this individual. Often times they will ask you for your personal information or credit card number. Other than what they say about themselves or their brand you don’t know them from Adam. One reason that neighborhoods do not allow solicitation is for neighborhood safety. In attempt to keep the neighbor’s property safe solicitation is not permitted in any neighborhood that I can think of.

To sum up. I have an analogy for you to think about when buying a water softener system. We call it permission based selling versus non-permission based selling. A lot of water softener companies solicit customers against the customers will, either by knocking your door or robo-calling your home phone. We categorize this style as non-permission based selling. Given the choice you would not want a phone call or an uninvited visitor to your home. Our sales department uses permission based selling. Meaning we work with your timeline and budget. We wait for you to contact us. That’s why our company and others who use this philosophy have a much stronger public local reputation (Better Business Bureau and Google). Our team will not violate the rules in your neighborhood just to “make a sale”. Because at the end of the day we live in the communities that we work in and I wouldn’t want you to knock on my door either.men at work lyrics

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Do Pelican Water Softeners Really Work?

This is a very interesting topic.

2 to 3 times per month people ask me about how a 3M water softener compares to a salt free water softener like Pelican Water and Easy Water. This blog will provide you with reliable information that will help you with your research. We will answer the question what is hard water versus what is soft water. Next we will look at 3rd party certifications from the NSF and WQA. The NSF is the standard for testing water treatment systems that are sold to the public and there are certifications that describe performance for each type of systems. In plain English the NSF will certify a product as a water softener or not so that you will know what kind of results you can expect with different types of products. Finally, we will look at some product manuals from Pelican Water to see how they describe the results you can expect.

What is Hard Water?

Hard water is dissolved calcium and magnesium minerals that are present in Jacksonville FL water. According to the WQA (Water Quality Association) “Very Hard” water has measurement in grains per gallon of 7-10.5 GPG, while “Soft Water” has a measurement of hardness minerals measuring 0-1 GPG. Jacksonville FL Hardness measures as little as 7GPG to as high as 28 GPG! So our hardness levels are off the charts.  

One observation that we can make from this classification set by the WQA is that if you buy a water softener you would expect the measurement of hardness minerals to decrease to 0-1 soft water after the installation, correct? Thinking about that question I have another question for you to consider. Why do you want a water softener to begin with, what kind of results are you looking for? Most of our customers want a solution to the white film and scale along with removing the spots that cover everything while protecting the plumbing system from hard water damage. Sound like you? Let’s keep going.

Who is the NSF?  

The NSF is a public health and safety organization that tests, along with other segments, consumer products. The NSF has a vast amount of certifications for water softeners that deal with everything from material safety to accuracy of the system to produce a result. You may have seen the NSF logo listed on other materials or products.

The product testing certification that deals with water softening is NSF/ANSI 44 which states: Water softeners covered by this standard use cation exchange resin, regenerated with sodium chloride or potassium chloride, to reduce hardness (e.g. excess calcium and magnesium) from the water. These minerals are replaced with sodium or potassium ions, depending upon the type of softening pellet used.

However there is a lesser product certification that deals only with the structural integrity and safety of product under the same NSF 44 standard. So if the system has been tested and listed with the NSF as a true water softener they will list it in the owner’s manual with the full description listed above.

How are Pelican Water Softeners listed?

Pelican list two NSF certifications that shed light on what the product does and does not do. (Listed on Page 21 of the owner’s manual CLICK HERE TO VIEW)

Pelican  Natursoft (Natursoft is the media inside the tank)-(product number NS3/NS6)- WQA Gold Seal tested and certified under NSF/ ANSI 61 for material safety and tested according to NSF/ANSI 42 for structural integrity only

Clack V3007-xx Bypass Fittings (only)- WQA Gold Seal Certified to NSF/ANSI Standard 44 for material safety and structural integrity only.

The only NSF certifications that Pelican lists are on the media and the bypass fittings. Note the system (PSE 1800/PSE2000) is not NSF certified as a system that removes hardness minerals and thus is not a water softener as they clearly describe on their web site.

In Their Own Words

In fact in the owner’s manual for the PSE 1800/2000 (CLICK HERE TO VIEW) on pages 14 and 15 Pelican goes on to describe the results that you will receive with your Pelican “Water Softener”. In their own words they compare Pelican results with a real water softener stating:

The Water Does Not Feel Soft. They then go one to say it doesn’t feel soft because the hardness minerals are still in your water thus acknowledging the fact that you will still have hard water.  

The Water Spots are more visible. Because Pelican does not produce soft water after you install the system you will still have hard water.

Soap Curd Forms with Certain Soaps. With soft water soap scum can’t form because the hardness minerals have been fully removed. However with Pelican,the minerals are largely still able to react with the fats in the soap to form soap curd or soap scum. (Doesn’t sound like a water softener to me…)

There is some mineral silt in the bathtub. Depending on the water chemistry of your water supply, you may still have some scale deposits in your plumbing system. (Since the Pelican doesn’t remove hardness minerals and doesn’t soften water you will still have hard water scale in your plumbing system.)

If you have a dishwasher: (What? Who doesn’t have a dishwasher? Are they about to tell us you won’t notice any results in your dishwasher with the Pelican system?) Generally, the NS3/NS6 NaturSoft (Pelican Water Softener) system removes mineral hardness from solution and forms micro crystals (there is no test to prove this claim by the way); it does not physically remove the hardness minerals from the water. Harsh chemicals (Or Dishwasher Detergents), specifically acidic (low pH) detergents or rinse agents, can re-dissolve these crystals. This reduces the desired effect.

Then they go on the recommend a rinse aid called Lemi-Shine, which is a hard water rinse aid (if you have a dishwasher). So if you buy a Pelican Water Softener you will have to use a hard water rinse aid in the dishwasher to get clear spot free dishes because you will still have hard water.


Hardness minerals produce soap scum, scale and spotting/etching to glass, tile and other surfaces, as well as itchy dry skin and hair. Salt free systems do not remove hardness minerals and thus don’t produce results for these issues. If your water tested 20 grains per gallon of hardness minerals and you install a salt free system it will still test 20 grains per gallon because they are not water softeners (that’s why they do not hold any WQA NSF certifications that validate their products as such). The only way to produce a measurable result is with a water softener that removes hardness minerals. The salt free systems appeal to a consumer’s desire to not deal with the salt however they simply cannot produce the same result of a true water softener. 

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Water Softeners and Sodium in Your Drinking Water

Water Softeners and SodiumSodium

Most people who buy water softeners in Jacksonville FL and surrounding areas are doing so for the first time. A common question we get is how much sodium does a water softener add to my drinking water? Although it’s true water softeners do add sodium to your drinking water during the softening process however it’s a very low amount.

In this post we will discuss why sodium gets added, how much gets added, and how does the Food and Drug Administration classify the amounts.

resinHow Does Salt End up in Softened Water?

A water softener uses a cat-ion exchange resin bed that exchanges positively charged ions for positively charge ions.  The incoming hardness minerals (CaC03) are positively charged and so are the sodium ions. Think of resin as a tiny almost sand looking bead. A water softener will hold millions of these beads inside the tank. The amount resin or size of a water softener is referred to as grains. You may have seen water softeners in Jacksonville Florida referred to as a 32,000 grain or a 48,000 grain softening system. This simply refers to how much cat-ion resin is inside the tank. Different sizes exist because not all applications are the same. The surface area of cat-ion resin is negatively charged and thus attracts the positive charged sodium and calcium cat-ions.

 First the resin bed is coated with sodium ions during the process called regeneration. Once regeneration has occurred the resin bed is ready to exchange a sodium for a calcium ion, thus softening the water. The exchange site of the resin prefers the incoming calcium ions over the sodium ions and releases a sodium to capture a calcium ion. This process is called ion-exchange. It’s this process that removes the incoming hardness minerals that make your water hard and consequently it’s this process that adds the sodium to your water.  

How Much Salt Gets Added to Water during the Softening Process?

So how much sodium will be in your softened water? That all depends on how much hard water the system will be removing. Meaning the addition of sodium will be directly dependent to the amount of hardness minerals being removed. So if you have less hard water minerals you will have less sodium, if you have more hard water minerals you will have more sodium.

Less look closer. Jacksonville FL water softener systems have a tough job to do. Our area has some of the highest hard water mineral concentrations in the US. JEA says our water hardness as low 7 grains per gallon of hardness all the way up to 28 grains per gallon of hardness and everything in between. FYI the Water Quality Association classifies "very hard” water as 7-10.5 grains per gallon. CLICK HERE to review the JEA annual water quality report. So no matter where you are in Jacksonville and surrounding areas you have “very hard” water which is damaging to appliances and plumbing systems.

For our purposes of determining how much sodium does a water softener add during the softening process let’s look at three areas on the JEA water report.

Grid 4: Cecil Commerce Grid (Jacksonville West Side)
7 Grains of Hardness will yield a sodium level of 13 milligrams per 8 ounce glass.
Grid 18: Oakridge (Southside, Atlantic/Kernan/Hodges area)
 20 Grains of Hardness will yield a sodium level of 37.25 milligrams per 8 ounce glass
Grid 23: St. Johns Forest (CR 210/ St. Johns County)
28 Grains per gallon of Hardness will yield a sodium level of 52 milligrams per 8 ounce glass.

You see the amount of sodium added to water by a water softener in Jacksonville FL will vary depending on how hard your specific water is. There are 36 grids in JEA’s service area not to mention St. Johns utility and others. To determine how much hardness/sodium will be in your water contact us for a free in home water analysis. If nothing else we can help you with your research.

Does the Salt Have Negative Health Affects?

Florida Water Technologies Inc. is not a doctor’s office and we have no medical license to practice medicine and we cannot make a medical recommendation for you in any way. (A quick disclaimer to make my lawyer happyJ)  

That being said. The Food and Drug Administration has a lot of information on sodium content and daily intake. The FDA classifies how many milligrams of sodium per serving are considered sodium free, very low and low.

According to the FDA.org
Sodium free is considered less than 5 milligrams per serving
Very Low is considered less than 35 milligrams per serving
Low is considered less than 140 milligrams per serving

Based on that most of Jacksonville FL water softener systems will yield a per-serving sodium level that is considered as very low sodium according to the FDA. However a few grids (St. Johns Forest and Monument Road) will have a sodium per serving level that is considered as Low sodium per serving.

In fact to echo these findings Sheldon Shelps M.D. from Mayo Clinic wrote a healthy living article that speaks to this same subject. CLICK HERE to access the article.


Water softener systems in Jacksonville FL and surroundings areas only add a trace amount of sodium to the drinking water through the softening process. Most of your daily sodium intake is from the salt shaker and eating processed foods. However if you are on a sodium restricted diet or you medicate for blood pressure and reverse osmosis drinking filter would be a great addition to a water softener in Jacksonville FL. A reverse osmosis drinking water system removers the sodium that is added by the softener system.

Call or post a comment if you have more questions about this topic.

Thanks for your time.

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