For those who are curious on why TDS meter shows slightly higher reading after Installing a salt based softener, below explanation maybe helpful. This is one of the common question that gets asked by many homeowners in our circles and those we have had the privilege of helping. Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) meter measures / reads what is called as electrical conductivity. In other words it is a measurement more related to charged ions or charged particles in water.

Water typically contains both charged and non charged particles. Examples of non charged particles include non-polar (bit of a chemistry terminology) molecules such is oxygen, nitrogen etc. Examples of charged particles include sodium, calcium etc. Now let's try to understand TDS a bit in detail. Generally speaking the higher the hardness of water, the higher the TDS reading. 1 grain ~ 17.1 PPM i.e 17.1 milligrams per gallon.

So, if the TDS reading shows 3 i.e., 51.3 PPM ( 51.3 milligrams per gallon) , there is no way for us to know if those 51.3 milligrams are due to calcium or sodium or potassium etc. This is due to the fact that TDS meter only measures charged particles and calcium, sodium & potassium all being charged particles and ignores measuring the presence of non-polar molecules. As we all / many of us know, water hardness is primarily defined by the amount of calcium (mainly) & magnesium present in water.

That said, during the softener ionization process, two sodium ions replace a singe ion to get rid of calcium (removal of hardness). Hence, after adding the salt based softener, it is typical that people experience higher TDS reading. It does not mean, the softener or other systems downstream are not working. It only means, more charged particles are present now vs before. More dependable way to check if softener is working or not, is by using specialized hardness testing kits as opposed to TDS meter. The good uses for TDS meter are 1. To know if your Reverse osmosis system is working properly and if it is time to change filters 2. To get a general idea on whether a water filtration system or softener is needed.

While water leak detection and prevention may not be a topic directly related to water softener, I choose to mention it here for couple of reasons 1. Water softener's are generally installed at the entry point of water coming into house and hence it is good idea to consider installing leak defection and prevention (if that is something important to you) at that time or along with it 2. There were number of incidents where RO (reverse osmosis) systems were the cause of water damage. It is seen that most people who install / installed softener also install / installed Reverse osmosis systems.

Recently heard about few homeowners going through pain full process of dealing with water damage incidents . While it is very unfortunate and they have to deal with the aftermath for several months (claims, repairs etc.), i thought of sharing few things that i think every homeowner should consider:

1. Pleasanton, Dublin and San Ramon, all have smart water meters. Suggest creating an account to monitor water usage and sign-up for unusual usage / potential water leak alerts down stream i.e. from the city meter into the house. It is FREE, it doesn't cost anything!

2. Consider installing smart whole house leak detection and shutoff. These devices not only notify about potential leak, but allows you to take action remotely via the App with a press of button to shutoff the supply to whole house regardless where you are.

There are several devices available in the market ranging from $300-$700 (plus install cost if you can't do it by yourself) and it may look like you are spending lot of money unnecessarily, but ask anyone you know have gone through dealing with water damage issues. Dealing with water damage could be extremely expensive and painful process. According to EPA a water damage is more likely to happen vs a fire & theft combined. There are several smart device options available in the market including some which are very easy to install as DIY (do it yourself) and some that may require more advanced installation.

Fleck & Clack system seems to come up for discussion several times on threads related to softeners. Something i thought i would share that may help someone here: there is no doubt, fleck control is one of the popular, reliable and budget friendly option available on the market for residential systems.

It is originally developed by Fleckenstein inc now owned by Pentair. Please note that fleck is just a control and resin & brine tanks are typically manufactured by other companies and carry different warranties that vary from control valve warranty itself. That is the reason you will see several companies (sellers) labelling their systems as fleck systems while in fact what they may be meaning by it is, they are selling their own softener ( by putting fleck valve and sourcing resin and brine tanks from others) with fleck control.

Similarly, Clack doesn't sell full water softener systems as they are OEM (manufacturer & distributor) for control valves and but unlike Fleck they also manufacture other softener components like brine tank, media etc. It is totally up to to them ( resellers of these parts) how they want to configure. There are numerous companies including individuals that use these components to put together a Clack Valve Softener system, brand it, market it, price it and provide support in their own way . Nothing wrong with it. Just trying to demystify what to understand / expect when when we talk about clack system.

Given this, while there are other systems ( some better than fleck / Clack, some on par and some not as good as fleck / Clack), if you are in market for fleck / Clack control system, it is important where you buy from as not all sellers provide same kind of warranty support and may not be in business when you need some kind of support from them. Hope this helps someone out here looking for information. Some good companies have been in business for a while that are selling fleck / Clack control systems online. Suggest do your own research and decided where to purchase it from. Since, each buyer has their own comfort, would like to avoid getting into that territory.