Liz grew up with a whole house water softner in Massachusetts and always appreciated the way it made soap lather more quickly, and the way it made her skin feel. We never had a softner in Virginia or in Georgia where we currently live. The water in those two places never really seemed that hard to me, and I just never wanted to pay to have one installed. I’m not sure Liz agreed with me, but nevertheless we didn’t have one. Anyway, after being on trips over the last few months, we have encountered water of varying degrees of hardness and quality. Plus we talked to folks who said that certain places out West the water was really hard and that a softner really makes a difference. So, I decided to research portable softners and give one a try on our next trip.
I found the Flow Pur RV-Pro 10,000 portable softner that had some good reviews on Amazon. I ended up finding it at RV Upgrades for $179.00 and free shipping so I bought one. It weighs less than 20 pounds and looks like a miniature scuba tank. The instructions are only a couple pages long and don’t provide as thorough an explanation of how to use it as I would have liked. You will also receive a pack of “hardness” test strips so that you can test the water before and after hookup. It also comes with an orange plastic Y valve that has a small orfice on one side that is to be used for regeneration of the softening beads when needed. The instructions indicate that you should install it when using the softener, but it really serves no purpose when not regenerating the unit so I left it off for normal use. To move the unit, you can grab the bottom lip with one hand and the top hose connection hookup valves with the other. If you do use the plastic Y valve make sure you are careful when picking up the unit as you tend to grab the valve as a handle. It has been reported that doing this may break it. That is another reason to just leave it off until needed.
The unit installs easily and has arrows on top of the connections to show the water flow direction. As you can see from the picture, I installed a water filter inline before the softener. The unit has the standard male and female hose connections, but for some reason the female connection does not swivel necessitating the addition of a short hose that can be turned to tighten the fitting (otherwise you would have to try to turn the entire length of hose you are using). I used quick release fittings to make hookup faster. The quick connects that I have will occasionally leak if they are stressed at the joint, but it is minimal. Water pressure does NOT seem to be diminished after going through the unit.
I won’t go into all the steps necessary for regenerating the medium or back flushing. I put a picture of the enclosed instructions on this page so you can read the steps. I have not had to regenerate my unit yet as it is still providing soft water. I have talked to other rv’ers who use this unit and they suggested that you dilute the salt in water before pouring it into the system. They indicate that this process works much better than just trying to pour the salt directly in the top of the tank. Also, it is important to pour out some water prior to adding the solution as it obviously can’t fit in the tank if it is still full. Finally, do not try to pour the water out of the filler cap as the softening medium will pour out. I just turn the tank upside down and let the water run out of the hose connectors.
Now, for the 64 million dollar question – how effective is it in softening the water. Very Effective! Attached is a picture of the before and after using the water hardness test strips. This is an actual test taken at Camp Lakewood in Effingham, IL. The strip on the right is the before and the one on the left after the water has passed through the softener. It is clear that there is a significant reduction in the hardness of the water. More importantly, it is quite noticeable in use in the RV. Soap lathers quickly and in greater amounts and there is a “softer” feel to the water. Hair conditioner is really not needed any more. Liz loves the way it works.