What About Environmental Water Systems?

Posted in: Salt-Free Systems
Ed asked:
I am thinking about purchasing  the Environmental Water Systems Model EWS-1354.   Is that a good system?
The Water Doctor Replied: Ed, it depends upon what you are paying for it.  First of all, you need to understand that the EWS-1354 is an "automatic backwashing carbon filter." In the description on the EWS website, it says that the EWS-1354 contains
Sixty-five (65) pounds or 2.5 cu.ft. of medical high-grade granular activated carbon (GAC) filtration media removes chlorine, chloromines, pesticides, lead, and other volatile organic compounds (VOC's), creating a healthy environment and improving the taste, clarity and odor of all your water.
Just so that we are clear, the EWS-1354 by Environmental Water Systems is a "backwashing carbon filter"  which has 2.5 cu/ft of granular activated carbon.  As a point of reference, here's our US Water Backwashing Catalytic Carbon Filter of the same size. Now, EWS calls their carbon "medical-grade" which somehow implies that it is superior in some fashion.  I have been in this industry for 45 years and "medical-grade" carbon is not something I have ever heard of.  In fact, after some research, I was not able to find any reference to medical-grade carbon.  I think that term has been "invented" by EWS to justify their high prices - a "magic fairy dust" term is what it is. Now, here's where it gets a little dicey.  They say that they have an "ICN Conditioner" inside, which catalytically suspends hardness minerals so that they do not adhere to surfaces.  Now, I am not sure if the "ICN" is a magnetic device or some other form of snake oil, 'er water treatment. Magnetic water treatment,  has been around for quite some time.   A number of water treatment companies claim to use a "catalyst" of some kind to "soften" water or at least to prevent scale formation. In many of these instances, the use of the term "catalytic" has less to do with catalysts than with giving what amounts to "magic fairy dust" a scientific-sounding cloak. Anyone who has taken first-year Chemistry should know that a catalyst can only influence the rate of a reaction, not its final outcome, which depends entirely on thermodynamics.  Many water supplies are supersaturated in hardness ions, and it is conceivable that a suitable catalyst could cause this escess material to precipitate out.  But even if the solid carbonates were filtered out, the remaining water would still be saturated and capable of forming scale on heat exchanger surfaces and leaving evaporative deposits in teakettles and on surfaces. It would also react with soaps to produce scums in laundry and bathtubs. In short, my opinion of the ICN Conditioner is that it is "pure bunk."  There is no credible evidence or scientific tests that lend any credence to this pseudoscience!  So, if you want a EWS-1354, you are likely getting a very good carbon filter which will do what any carbon filter will do and which should be able to be purchased for around $1,400.00 or so.  If you think you are getting more, well sometimes ignorance is bliss and perception is reality.  You can believe what you want. Part of the reason that these systems are so expensive is that the company have several layers of distribution.  They assemble this product and have regional managers who sell through dealers in nearly every state.  This drives the cost of the product up exponentially.  The fact that you are reading this probably means you are "internet savvy" and already know better than to pay $3,495 for a $1,495 product.  Information gives you power. Additionally, if you are on city water, you do not really need to backwash. Our Pulsar Bodyguard System does not use electricity or require backwashing.  Backwashing is for well water where you may have a lot of suspended solids.  On City Water, the Magna Filter catches all the solids, so there is no need to backwash.  If carbon absorbs or adsorbs something, you cannot backwash it out. The same is true with solids:  If you trap the solids with the Magna Filter, there is nothing to backwash out. No wasted water and no electricity.
September 21, 2010
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February 20, 2011 at 2:32 PM
Hi, I have heard said Salt ion exchange is the only functional calcium treatment, but also that the brine recharge is polution. I wondered if Calcium could be caused to not stick to pipes, would it rinse better out my hair? Sales of physical conditioner tout floculation as a means to get calcium to flow through pipes, I thought if this could be done, GE would be doing it. Then I saw a similar shaped item from Watts... maybe a rebrand of same product? I have an option to buy a 3yr old EWS - 1354 for $500. Judging by the white powder residue from evaporation, I think we have hard TDS I ordered a paper strip test. I had kinetico worked pretty good, but with all the usual drawbacks
Edward Nieves
March 1, 2011 at 3:45 PM
I have a 1354 installed and agree with the writer that is a very expensive filter and does NOT prevent scale buildup. The faucets are fouled, the shower head is fouled, the toilet bowls are fouled. All as if thee were no EWS 1354 installed at all. So what do you recommend instead? Thanks, Ed p.s. I live in Santa Fe, NM
John M
June 20, 2013 at 11:06 PM
I also have the 1354 EWS, in my home in Los Angeles. It certainly does foul our faucet heads, leaves rings in the toilets, there is no reduction in scale and my automatic sprinklers require constant maintenance (at considerable cost) because tiny granules of carbon clog the aerators and valves. Scale clean up is not easier, as was offered. Our toilet bowls develop a grayish film and this never occurred prior to the EWS installation. Even the cat's white water bowl has a blueish scale ring!! I was told that I'd use less detergents...absolutely false. I will never purchase another product like this again. Very very disappointed. My neighbors, who don't own this expensive system, rarely need to service their sprinkler systems. I also find it repulsive that after automatic back flushing, there are dozens of tiny black carbon granules in my drinking water and toilets. Would you like to drink back flushed water that contains trace carbon particles? I have owned the system for over two years...waste of money. Beware of anyone making exaggerated, embellished or false claims. A Brita filter is way cheaper and won't damage your plumbing.
Mark Timmons
June 22, 2013 at 12:12 PM
John, Of course the 1354 EWS does nothing for the reduction in scale. However, carbon should not clog the aerators and valves and you should never see the carbon. You have a serious problem with the system and I would talk it offline for fear that it will blow out all the carbon into your plumbing system. That is a big mess! If you have had the 1354 EWS for less than a year, I would contact the manufacturer. A Brita Filter is better than nothing, but it takes out some of chlorine for drinking. You actually inhale (water vapor) and absorb (through your skin) more chlorine in a 15 minute shower than you could drink in a day. A Brita Filter has a couple of ounces of carbon in it. A 13 x 54 Carbon Tank has about 100 pounds of carbon in it. Which one do you think will remove the most chemicals? Just because you got a bad system doesn't mean all systems are bad. Most of ours work perfectly with NO carbon in the water.
March 1, 2011 at 10:03 PM
Edward, The Green Wave Edge works: https://www.uswatersystems.com/green-wave-edge.html We have lots installed in N.M. Or you can keep the EWS, which is a good carbon filter and add this: https://www.uswatersystems.com/water-filter-module-5-us-water-limeblaster-salt-free-water-conditioner.html
April 19, 2011 at 5:01 PM
I have an EWS 1354 and absolutely love it...I don't know what Ed is talking about. I have very hard water and I don't have any scale build up at all...maybe he should get his unit checked. Yes, there is still water spots but that's because it doesn't remove the minerals like a salt softener does (and I didn't want a salt softener...also salt softeners are restricted in my area of California.). Also I called EWS and they said they call the carbon medical-grade because it has the highest iodine rating available and is used in hospitals. They have their systems installed at St. Jude's Children's Hospital and our military uses their systems too. Just trying to add another side to this, since the article seems pretty subjective and I don't think it's fair if you're trying to offer really good information to people.
April 19, 2011 at 5:45 PM
Leann, You say you live in California, but I tracked your IP address to Las Vegas, NV. Guess who else is there? Environmental Water Systems! At this point you have no credibility unless you can prove you don't work for EWS. Also, "medical-grade carbon is not a term anyone recognizes. It's a bogus term. Since we have hundreds of systems in hospitals and laboratories, using your reasoning, we can call our systems laboratory-grade medical systems? I'm going to see if this IP address is connected with Environmental Water Systems, because I don't believe you are who you say! We have had other companies have their employees pretend to be customers and write glowing endorsements which are also bogus.
April 19, 2011 at 7:19 PM
You're funny, Mark...I don't know how I'm supposed to prove I don't work for them. I'm certainly not going to send you my checks or bank statements. ;) I don't know if you've heard of travel, but as an independent businesswoman, I do travel frequently between Las Vegas and California. It's a short flight and pretty cheap, so I do it often. I know full well that blog comments post with their IP addresses, as I run a successful blog of my own and I can see all the IP addresses of the people who post. It's not like I'm trying to hide something. Based on your logic that employees can't write endorsements because they'd be bogus, then why should I or anyone else trust your information? You sell products and endorse them, so that must mean your information is bogus. Right? Just don't get too paranoid. There are good people and good products out there in every market, you don't have to think everything is horrible and bogus and blah blah blah. You'll go crazy. Aside from that, I found your site doing a search for a filter replacement for EWS - thought I'd put my two cents in. Take care. ;)
September 26, 2014 at 2:51 PM
A comment about particulate carbon in the water. The only time we have seen particulate matter such as John describes in an EWS system is if there has been a water pressure surge that blew the diaphragm out. If your filter is working properly and you have a pressure regulator this won't happen. I have had an EWS unit in my home for almost 10 years and of course there are mineral deposits on the exterior of shower heads but if you take any of them apart they are spotless inside where the minerals are not sticking where the water runs. The biggest benefits of the ICN conditioning is that the minerals do not as readily adhere to pipes, toilets, plpumbing fixtures, etc., where salt softening systems leave salt deposit on everything which creates serious corrosion issues.
Mark Timmons
October 17, 2014 at 1:41 PM
Tony, How well an EWS system works, depends upon your water hardness. We have tested them in water that had significant hardness and were unimpressed (as in we really couldn't tell the difference). I would have given you the benefit of the doubt until your last sentence: <em>salt softening systems leave salt deposit on everything which creates serious corrosion issues.</em><strong> That is total BS, which leads me to believe the rest of you post is as well. A water softener does not leave salt deposits, nor does it creates corrosion issues. Whether the EWS system works is subject to debate, but the later is not subject to debate. It's fact!</strong>
January 31, 2018 at 11:00 AM
This is a very old post (and I wonder if this comment will even be seen), but I have a very old EWS-1354-1 system (15 years!) and it's only now starting to deteriorate. 2 things have impressed me with it: (1) water has tasted good for 15 years, 5 more than advertised, and (2) I have a gas tankless hot water heater, and the installer was surprised still worked after 12 years, which he attributed to the EWS. In speaking with my utility today, I've learned that my hardness level is 81ppm/4.74 grains, and the chloramine level is 3.70ppm. That hardness level is not very high, so I don't know if I could do with a filter alone, but I've never liked the 'backwash' of the 1354. So I'm considering this carbon filter (https://www.uswatersystems.com/us-water-bodyguard-whole-house-chemical-removal-filtration-system.html). My question is: can a huge tank of carbon like this one REALLY operate without backwashing - it seems 'too good to be true'.
Mark Timmons
January 31, 2018 at 1:34 PM
With water that is 81 ppm hardness, I would not expect to see any scale, especially if the Langelier Index is positive. It's not the EWS - it's your water, which is already very good. Backwashing is for well water where you may have a lot of suspended solids. On City Water, the Magna Filter catches all the solids, so there is no need to backwash. If carbon absorbs or adsorbs something, you cannot backwash it out. The same is true with solids: If you trap the solids with the Magna Filter, there is nothing to backwash out. No wasted water and no electricity.
Paul Little
April 24, 2018 at 8:39 PM
The way I understand it, the backwashing feature of EWS Spectrum filters is not to get rid of the absorbed material in the carbon filter but to keep the carbon in the filter from channeling and becoming less effective over time.
Mark Timmons
April 28, 2018 at 10:57 AM
That's what they say, but on city water tests with a clear tank, channeling simply does not occur. It doesn't hurt to backwash, but it wastes water and electricity. There's additional electronic and mechanical parts, which means more service and it is not necessary. A good pre-filter ahead on any carbon tank on city water is sufficient.
April 5, 2019 at 12:58 PM
We had an expensive top of the line whole house EWS System installed during our remodel in 2009. The water tastes fine. There is no drop in water pressure and we have a large 2 story home. HOWEVER, we were unaware how very hard our water is in SJC. My dishwasher failed 3 times--due to hard water. My shower glass and fixtures are impossible to keep clean. It does not "condition" hard water. I know my contractor tried it in his home and then quickly added a water softener to deal with the hard water problems. ALSO it is SO LOUD it reverberates thru the house when it backwashes--its in the garage! We had to program it to recharge when nobody is home. We are going to switch to a water softener with a carbon filter that doesn't need electricity and doesn't waste so much water. Thanks for all the info on your site!
Mark Timmons
April 5, 2019 at 2:31 PM
I would hope that you would consider us when you do. This is what I have in my home and if you compare, you will see it removes the largest spectrum of contaminants: https://www.uswatersystems.com/us-water-bodyguard-whole-house-chemical-removal-filtration-system.html https://www.uswatersystems.com/matrixx-water-softener-with-smartphone-programming.html Our systems are so easy to use, monitor and program with out Smartphone App (included). You can monitor water usage, flow rates and the like. Plus, we have the best warranty in the business.