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TAC water scale prevention alternative to a water softener?

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The idea seems to be that a TAC filter could be a substitute for a water softener and require much less attention (salt replacement and back-flushing).  That sounds attractive to me.  But one recent review of a TAC filter on Amazon gives me more than a pause, it seems to disqualify a TAC filter as substitute for a traditional water softener.

Here's an example of a TAC filter from a well-known name:


And here is the first sentence of a review that caused me to suspect, that a TAC filter is not for my RV:

Reviewed in the United States on April 30, 2021
Verified Purchase
Installed it and still had huge scaling problems in all my appliances and my bathroom faucets. Called Watts customer service and they explained that it doesn't prevent scaling anywhere where water sits and evaporates, only inside pipes.

Anyone have any direct experience with a TAC filter in an RV?

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According to  Watts' ad copy: "Virtually maintenance free for up to 3 years".

To me, a couple of years between changes sounds great.

I vaguely recall folks replacing metal pipes in a sticks and bricks because of insufficient water flow.  But, I can't recall anyone replacing their plex lines in an RV because of scale buildup.  

Have any of you on this forum had a problem with scale buildup in your plex tubing?




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I installed one of the Watts units in my RV two months ago.   We winter in a hard water area of south TX and my 10,000 grain water softener didn't go more than a couple of weeks before needing recharging (we do have a washer/dryer onboard).  We definitely do get white "gunk" inside our faucets in the valves and the strainers plus I know there are deposits inside the water heater despite my regularly replacing the anode.

Installation was straightforward and then the question was "is it doing anything?"   Since it doesn't actually remove the calcium and magnesium from the water you can't use test strips to measure the effectiveness. 

However, I did notice one surprising indicator of effectiveness.  We use bone china coffee cups every morning and after a week or two of use they would always develop brown stains on the inside despite the fact we washed them every day.  The stain could be bleached away but normal scrubbing wouldn't remove it.  After a couple of weeks I noticed that the cups were no longer developing those stains.   My assumption of what was happening was that the stain was in scale that was being deposited inside the cups and the de-scaler was preventing it from happening.

That gave me a way to see if the 3-year life claim is realistic. As long as the cups aren't stained then the system must be working.

As for the break-in period, I had to clean the screens on our faucets a couple of times in the first several months, as the instructions warned would be the case, but that wasn't a big deal.  I'm pretty sure that the flow through my Moen kitchen faucet has now improved a bit.  It has a flow restrictor that was almost annoying in its effectiveness, but I've now measured the flow rate and it appears to be a bit higher than it has been.  I attribute this to a "cleaning" of the the passages in the faucet head.

Edited by docj
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That was very informative (as usual).

I have a 16,000 gain water softener which I have not used yet.  And I too have an on-board washer.  But there's only 1 of me, so the frequency of back-flushing and salt replacement will be less.  I also have a 40lb bag of Potassium Chloride which I'm curious about.

So although, I'm still curious about TAC filters,  since I already have a water softener,  the benefits don't seem large enough (for me) to change yet.  I may end up with a TAC filter for moderate to soft water and only use my water softener where the water is very hard (I do have a test kit). 

Thank you very much! 

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