Soft Water Without Salt?

Here in Utah, the potable water is pretty hard – lots of mineral content. At our first house, we eventually broke down and bought a softner. It was pretty much what you might expect with a brine tank, recharge compartment, and piles of salt. Pretty standard stuff. I was never a big fan. It takes a while to get used to slimy showers and hand washing, but it does keep sinks and appliances from getting gunky and clogged. The thing I liked least was the taste of soft water. In our first house, we had the kitchen sink bypassed so I didn’t have to gag every time I got a drink of water. At our next house, we knew we needed to try something different.

Somewhere along the line I mentioned, and likely will a million times more, I used to run an Apple Specialist shop. It just so happened that one øf our clients developed something other than a salt softner. Now since I no longer own the company and they are no longer a client, I feel no pang of guilt telling you my honest opinion. What better way to do that then to describe the process of replacing the filter.

The NuvoH2O softner uses no salt, no electricity, and perhaps best of all doesn’t make your water taste funny. You can read all about the process on their website so I won’t go over it again. I like the concept, and it seems to make sense, but here’s my take. They claim if you use the system after having hard water, it will remove the scale and deposits from your faucets and shower heads. Well, we have had the system for several years now, and it doesn’t remove the deposits. In fact, I had to replace the faucet in the kitchen after we got the H2O, and it still has developed some deposit on the aerator. After that, you might think I don’t like the softner or wouldn’t recommend it. For the most part, I do like it, and I can tell it does make difference, but maybe the thing I like least about the system is replacing the cartridge.

A quick word of caution. I had a plumber come and install the system, and unless you are a plumber yourself or just that good, I’d recommend you follow suit. It’s important to have the system installed in an area where you don’t mind the floor getting wet, because every time you replace the cartridge it will get wet. Mine is in the utility room where the floor is concrete. Even with that, the first thing I do before changing the cartridge is to place a five gallon bucket under the softner and surround it with a bunch of towels.

 

Here’s how to replace the cartridge.

Step One: Turn off the main water supply to the house. I must have gotten into the system early because my first instructions did not say to turn off the main. In fact, the first time I made the attempt, Nuvo sent someone out to help because the dang thing would not release. That poor guy almost drown himself. Took a bit of time, but he finally came to the conclusion the main had to be off. It actually releases the pressure through the system.

Step Two: Release the remaining pressure with the button on top of the unit. I always go to the nearest faucet and turn it on to relieve the pressure throughout the system. When you release the pressure on the top mount do it very slowly because it will spray water. Think of it like taking the cap off a two liter bottle of soda that has been shaken. Really slow. With the pressure release button still pressed, turn the top plate.

Step Three: Using the wrench that comes with the system, loosen the retaining ring. BUT, do not remove the cartridge cover. The thing is full of water and heavy.

Step Four: Find a buddy. As you turn the retaining ring you need someone to support the cartridge cover from the bottom. Go slowly because when it releases it sometimes falls. If it doesn’t fall, it is held in place by the built up pressure and will need to be gently rocked back and forth to release it. Even with the five gallon bucket in place, water seems to get everywhere. Keep the towels handy. As it comes lose, you’ll notice a large “O” ring. Hang on to it.

Step Five: Carefully take the cover with the spent cartridge to the tub or shower to dump the water. Do not dump it on the lawn. I’ve done that and had a nice brown spot for a month. Remove the spent cartridge and leave it in the tub to drain.

Step Six: Place the new cartridge in the cover, and with your buddy still helping, lift it into place. Make sure the “O” ring is in place, and the retaining ring is over the cover and ready to turn correctly. Sometimes it helps to turn the retaining ring the opposite direction of tight so when you begin to tighten, it lessens the chance of going on crooked and stripping the threads. After all, they are plastic.

Step Seven: Use the wrench and tighten the ring. Careful not to over do it. Press the pressure release button and turn the top plate back to the flow position.

Step Eight: Turn back on the water main. Dump the water in the bucket down the drain. Clean up the water with the towels.

That’s pretty much it. Inspect the connections and make sure there are no leaks. if there are, you may have to start back at Step One and figure out where the problem might be. For me, the problem usually has involved the “O” ring not being on properly.

If you want an alternative to salt, the NuvoH2O might be for you. Now if it only had an app to tell me when the cartridge was spent. Until then, it’s about every six months.

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