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Which water softener control valve is the best - Clack, Autotrol or Fleck?

by Mark Timmons November 29, 2013 33 Comments

I can't tell you how many times a day we get this question. It seems that there are lots of people that like Fleck and Autotrol water softener valves because... well that's what they have always used. It's almost like a religion to them. Then along came Clack and they designed a very good valve and now everyone is embroiled in a debate as to whether Fleck, Clack or Autotrol is the best. We have people who call in and say "I need a Fleck valve because I was told it's the best." They also say the same thing about Clack and Autotrol. For the record, all of these water softener control valves are good and I don't think you can go wrong with any of them.

The Clack and the Fleck valves use similar technology involving a single piston, which is the only moving part in the water stream, as well as spacers and seals. The Autotrol valve uses valve disc technology. The discs are opened and closed by a camshaft. All of these valves have their pros and cons, but in my mind the biggest con of the Fleck valves is the cost of replacement parts. Many dealers love Fleck valves because they make a lot of money off of servicing them, so guess who pays the price - the customer. Autotrol valves are cheaper to repair and maybe somewhat easier, but many people do not like the 6 or 7 moving discs inside the valve. The Johnny-Come-Lately is Clack who has designed a very reliable valve that is easy and inexpensive to repair. However, they have restricted sales to traditional water dealers only, and will not allow internet sales. This drives up the price considerably for the consumer.

Fleck is now coming out with new control valves (like the 5800) with which they are also restricting sales on the internet. It smacks of "price-fixing" to many people. I can understand this to a degree, because the fact of the matter is that there are many companies on the internet that are simply guys working out of their basement or garage and are happy to make $20 on a water softener because they have no intention of ever answering their phone after 5 o'clock and weekends and you may be lucky to get them from 8 to 5. They offer no tech support and have nothing to help their customers.

Let me make one thing clear: WE ARE NOT AN INTERNET COMPANY! US Water Systems is a water treatment Company with a dozen Certified Water Specialists who are there to help you with Sales, Service and Installation, 7 days a weeks from 8 AM until, 11 PM EDT! There is a big difference between us and most other internet companies who sell water treatment. However, I digress. What is the best water softener valve? Well, Clack is my second favorite control valve, Fleck is my third favorite and Autotrol is my least favorite (I'm not saying it's bad, because it isn't). That's my recommendation. What - you want to know who's Number One?


Well, that's simple - our US Water Fusion NLT (Next Level Technology) took Flecks best ideas and improved them. We then took Clack's electronics and improved them. With one internal moving part, upflow brining, proportional brining, capacitor backup and superior seal technology, it is the only water softener control on the market with a ten (10) year warranty on the valve and electronics. When you build them better, you can guarantee them better. Move over Clack and Fleck - there's a new consumer darling in water softener controls and US Water is setting the pace. Better by design, superior warranty and priced to sell. Check out the Fusion NLT and you will understand why it is truly the "Best-of-the Best".

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February 05, 2019 Brent Holland

Hello Mark,
Our Culligan Water Softner has died. Want to replace with a qaulity softner as our water in San Antonio is quite hard with alot of calcium deposit. Below are the particulars for choosing the correct one resin tank & one brine tank system.

1). Existing plumbing from Culligan softner.
2) Four person household.
3) any concerns on resin & salt as I am a liver transplant survivor from cancer.
4) 8% resin to eliminate the slick feel on the skin.
5). Will the system eventually clean out hard water & lime deposits from household plumbing & appliances like washer & dishwasher?
Please respond via my wife’s email, as my Yahoo email is having connectivity issues per APPLE Tech Support.

Thank you for your help.

February 10, 2019 Mark Timmons

Answers below in BOLD:

1).Existing plumbing from Culligan softner. OK
2) Four person household. 15 GPM Model
3) any concerns on resin & salt as I am a liver transplant survivor from cancer. I would not drink soft or hard water. I would have a reverse osmosis system if I were you.
4) 8% resin to eliminate the slick feel on the skin. 8% resin does not do that. All resin will fell the same.
5). Will the system eventually clean out hard water & lime deposits from household plumbing & appliances like washer & dishwasher? YES

February 24, 2019 Jason w

What type of valve head does clack, fusionNLT, and matrixx have? A) open cam / osmonic . B) rotary. C) piston. D) non mechanical ?

March 06, 2019 Mark Timmons

They all are piston valves.

March 14, 2019 Travis

How does the Puronics IGen valve stack up with the Matrixx? What are the pros and cons of each?

March 27, 2019 Mark Timmons

Matrixx is 21st Century Technology, Smartphone programming with full control.

The Puronics isn’t close.

March 29, 2019 John C Boyce

You did no comparisons with the Ecowater rotary valve. Thoughts?

April 03, 2019 Mark Timmons

I do not consider that valve to be anything close in quality to anything we have. Sorry.

November 02, 2019 Matthew Berry

I sent this to the Clack Corporation via email. I hope the executive reads it!

After doing some research on the internet, I found out that your water specialist valves are quite reliable, easy to program, and not to difficult to service.

Being a handyman/DIYer, I sadly discovered you can’t buy these on the internet. I can’t even walk into a local water treatment dealer to buy one because I was told that they would have to deliver, install, and service this device before selling it to me.

If I substitute your valve for a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, I wouldn’t be able to buy it at target for 0.99 cents because I’m not smart enough to prepare it, cook it, or even clean the pot. I would have to hire a chef to bring it to my home, cook it, and clean the pot he cooked it in. That 0.99 cent box of Macaroni and Cheese just turned into a $100.00 because I had to get a middleman come out and cook it. That reeks of price fixing to me! Enjoy loosing a portion of the market to handymen and DIYers everywhere!

So while you build your great water specialist valve, I have become a Fleck customer!

April 15, 2020 Nick Bruns

Do you have sales and service in Boulder City, Nv?

April 29, 2020 Mark Timmons

Our systems are very simple to install. Any plumber, HVAC Tech or Handyman can do it.

July 29, 2021 Oliver Street

Nicely phrased rational and balanced opinions, but it would be more persuasive if you would point out the particular features that are most and least attractive about each valve. For example;

The Autotrol is the only pilot operated disc valve design of the four. The slide valves shift an opportunity for openings to connect. The pilot operated disc valves opens or closes one path at a time. A cam shaft opens sprung levers that open/close a pilot valve. The pilot valve redirects just a trickle of water under pressure to move and seal a disc valve, or to allow water to push it off its seat and open. This water valve tolerates silt and particulate well, it flushes out particulates around the seat, and since the seal doesn’t move under pressure the seal’s life isn’t limited by abrasion from silt. On the other side of the coin though, this design does shift that sliding friction to the dry side. The force between the camshaft and the levers that operate the pilots is significantly greater than the force used to move the stack of seals in slide-type valves. The Autotrol controls use more gear reduction than the others to increase the force available. With time, the plastic gear train, plastic camshaft, and plastic bearings are more likely wear and break than the wet components. The amount of dust and grit in the air, rather than the water, at an installation is likely to limit the Autotrol valve’s reliability. A few additional caveats and cautions also apply; Because it uses pilot actuated valves that depend on water pressure to seal, this valve may leak brine or hard water if and when the water pressure drops below 25psi, even briefly. When water pressure is near the the minimum, the low operating speed of the cam shaft can cause tones/sounds when a partially opened pilot results in an oscillating the valve disc during the regeneration cycle. This occurs when the opening valve causes the water supply pressure to drop. As the pilot loses pressure lets the valve start to close again. As the valve closes the pressure rises and the pilot start to open the valve again and the cycle repeats. Conversely, the cam releases the spring loaded pilot valve levers abruptly, allowing them to rapidly change the disc valve’s position. Rapid closure can produce a pressure pulse shaking any loose pipes as the individual phases of the regeneration cycle are completed. Although startling, this does also increase the valve’s ability to clear debris in the waterway somewhat balancing any acoustic drawback.
August 02, 2022 Kirk

Need control head for new Culligan resin tank

August 07, 2022 Mark Timmons

All of the Culligan products are proprietary and do not interchange. Either order a new tank and valve or order a new system.

June 08, 2023 M Kumar

I guess people and business easily forgotten millions of people died because of comunist corona virus and yet in the stores we keep seeing chinese made products. Lets diversify the manufacturing and distribution instead of depending solely on chinese product.

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