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In Water Softener daze! Which one which one?

In 2000, pre-kids I purchased the smallest Kenmore water softener (W/S) for a 2&a1/2bath 2500sqft home. In 2005 I purchased a used Fleck 5600 Econominder and this past weekend I believe the timer motor stopped working (the unit is staying at the same hour). I unplugged/plugged, change outlets, rotated cycle knob entire cycle. I’m planning on replacing the timer motor ASAP. I am so frustrated with these devices probably because I want the best water. I have never had a W/S and I am a total DIYr but at this point want to call a service or just have a representative from one of the big 7 W/S come out and replace everything! My water hardness is around 13 and a little smelly (iron, sulfur) and both units did work well but I was always in question.

I Googled water softener last night, I found there are water conditioners and W/S with magnets, salt-free or Nano tech, Salt based or Ion exchange. The price ranges from several hundred to several thousand.

Can anyone give me insight whether or not there are major differences in W/S’s? I can not believe something that does a simple ionic transfer be so difficult to choose?

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