Fleck started with a simple idea in the mid '50s and now controls one-quarter of the residential water softener valve market and is even more prevalent in commercial applications. The company recognized that an automatic water softener would only be viable if the control valve could withstand corrosion and operate continuously in brine. The valve was on the market by the 1960s and has been popular ever since.
Control valves manage water flow and initiate regeneration of the resin bed. They are the heart of the water softening machine and cost the most to replace if they fail. Fleck valves are made of glass-fiber-reinforced Noryl plastic or lead-free brass. Tests by the company have shown that they can last 10,000 regeneration cycles. In actual use, this works out to over 25 years of water softening. Many experts recommend water softeners with Fleck valves, saying other brands can require maintenance early on while a Fleck valve can go years without any trouble.
The five-year warranty offered is great, but it sounds like chances are good that the warranty will run out before the part does. A contest held by the company resulted in the discovery of a 38-year-old valve still in working condition.
Famous places that chose Fleck
The company boasts installations at various Starbucks locations and Disney's California Adventure in the United States and at Buckingham Palace and Heathrow Airport in England.
What regular folks have to say
Fleck valves seem to be loved by almost everyone, both for their dependability and price and for the fact that they are nonproprietary and can be found on many water softeners sold by independent dealers. They are often named by satisfied purchasers, particularly the 5600 series. It has been mentioned, however, that some Fleck valves require special, costly tools and therefore may not be the best choice for do-it-yourselfers.
Water Quality Association certification
The WQA's Gold Seal goes to systems, components or additives that meet or surpass industry standards for contaminant reduction, structural integrity and material safety. Fleck components, as part of several softeners from Pentair Water Treatment (Fleck's parent company), have made the grade. They are also noted for efficiency in the DIR (demand-initiated regeneration) category.