General Ionics…Fake or Fab?

So I’m interested to know if anyone else has had an “opportunity” to sit down with the people from General Ionics. For those of you that have not heard of them, General Ionics is a water filtration company. They’ve got all sorts of special patents, and provide the technology for NASA to turn astronaut urine into clean, clear drinking water on the space shuttle.

I have to think that the astronauts don’t know about that one. I don’t care how good your technology is, I’m NOT drinking filtered pee. Mine or Boris’. No way, no how. Although, I suppose given a choice of death or drinking filtered urine, I’d be slurping the stuff.

Anyways, I had an opportunity to get a visit on Tuesday, to do a full assessment of my “water situation.” I went in just as skeptical as anyone. Surely my city water is fine. Everyone drinks it, nobody’s dying, nobody’s getting sick.

After his demonstration, however, I have to honestly say he swayed me. Our water is gross. It’s not going to harm us, necessarily, but it’s dirty. It’s hyper-chlorinated. And he gave me enough free stuff to make the purchase worth it.

1) 4 years worth of every soap in my home. Bar soap, laundry soap, dishwashing soap, shampoo, body wash, etc.

2) 200 lbs. of water softening salt.

3) A Soda Club machine.

They sent an excellent plumber over the next day to install everything, and I am now the proud owner of a General Ionics full-house water filtration system. And I honestly feel like I made a good purchase. No buyer’s remorse. At least not yet.

So, in the comments, I’d love to know if anyone else has had experience with this company, or any other, and what their thoughts on a device like this are.

Also, based on the demonstrations and my experience with this new device, I don’t understand why they are selling these on an almost exclusively referral basis. It seems to me that this stuff is industry-leading, works-as-advertised. Why is it then that the company that provides water filtration systems for NASA, Pepsi, Coca-Cola, and several breweries has a brand name I have never heard?

58 thoughts on “General Ionics…Fake or Fab?

  1. I’m a representative of a Hague Dealership and i will let you know that General Ionics does not use stainless steel tanks, they are plastic all the way around them except the bottom. Oh btw, Hague Quality Water In’tl doesn’t use filters on our system, all you do is put salt in it. Which you can buy at Lowe’s or Home Depot or even Wal-Mart.

    1. General Ionics tanks ARE 100% stainless steel, I own one. Do your research before you start talking about something you know absolutely nothing about.

      1. Great topic, guys… Puronics, formerly Ionics, do carry food-grade 316L Stainless-Steel tanks. We also carry fiberglass tanks with and without stainless-steel jackets in order to provide a less expensive system to our customers.

  2. OP – since posting this, do you have any feedback? We just got one installed 2 weeks ago from the Akron, OH company mentioned on here.

  3. Make sure you check your high end stainless steel tank on a regular basis.Just noticed our tank is RUSTING at bottom. We purchased this expensive system not even four years ago. I will let you know how Ionics handles this warranty issue, since the company we purchased from is no longer around.

      1. Hi Jerry, the tanks may have be sweating from the surrounding moisture or humidity. Apply a good coat of wax on the tank to minimize this effect. You may also want to consider obtaining a rubber cover to allow absorption of the sweating on the tank.

    1. Hi Char- Not sure if you had this resolved. To minimize rust on any appliance, the installed location should with adequate humidity (or drier if possible). Your SS tank should also be standing on top of the plastic legs (included with the system) to minimize moisture condensation at the bottom of the tank. Lastly, this is included in the user’s manual… “It is a good idea to wipe the unit occasionally and then apply a good coat of wax. This procedure will keep your water conditioner looking bright and clean for a lifetime.”

  4. we have an ionics water system in our house wew had a serviceman come out to repair it he came out twice we paid him now our water is black we can actually see dirt in the water its horrible we have tried numerous times to contact the serviceman since he will not return our calls this system is horrible

  5. I have well water at my home so I don’t have to worry about what the city might be adding to my water. I do have high iron content, so I have an iron filter in addition to the water softner. 200 lbs of softner salt only lasts me a month. Its about $6-$7 per bag of salt at Kroger or Walmart, and each bag is 40 lbs.

    1. Matt- Good job, but I strongly suggest having your water tested for viruses, bacteria and other unwanted contaminants from a certified lab. Besides adding chemicals to treat water and keep it within EPA mandated levels (MCL), the water district has to control other harmful contaminants. Hopefully the raw water from your well only has high levels of Iron and Hardness, otherwise you may need additional filtration in order to obtain a pristine quality of water.

  6. About two months back we interviewed several water conditioning companies (Rainsoft, Hague, Kinetico, and Culligan). *All* of these companies can offer you a soap package and lots of other free stuff, but after interviewing them all it seemed like the ones that were really pushing the soap package were also the ones charging the most money while trying to make it seem like they were giving you the soap for “free”. I and my neighbor ended up going with the Kinetico system because their technology seemed to make the most sense to us as it is fundamentally different from all the others out there. Also I know several people who have had Kinetico systems for many years and love them. So, obviously I don’t know how much you paid, and likely you’ll probably be fine with the system you’ve got, but for my money I’d go with Kinetico all the way.

  7. We bought ours in Sept of 1995. We have had some problems and we can’t find anyone in our area to get it serviced. We were happy with it for several years, but feel like we own boat anchor now. I think all the free soap was questionable. We ended up giving a bunch of ours away. We like the soap products we are used to using.

    1. We bought ours about the same time. We have really liked it up until the last year or so. Now it does not seem to being operating correctly…not sure what the problem is.

  8. When we purchased our Ionics Water Conditioner 5 years ago, we had the same doubts about the sale in spite of the fact that we were extremely pleased with the results of the install. We also got the “free” testing and the “free” soap, but clearly these costs are built into the price you pay. However, I can confirm from having spoken to many companies that Ionics sells a great tank and extremely reliable valves. Beyond that, there are only a few companies that manufacture the control components (e.g., Fleck) that control these units, so the differences in price more often than not are related to the quality of the tank and the primary fittings.We took the Ionics IQ1030B with us when we moved from the city (municipal water) to the country (well water). It took a while to find someone willing to reinstall the unit, and several unscrupulous dealers tried to convince us the conditioner we had was “no good” and tried to sell us the same device under a different name, not to mention a higher capacity than we needed and add ons like pH filtering that we didn’t even need. In the end, we had to re-bed the unit (new ion-enhanced resin beads, a more resilient substitute for traditional zeolite softeners). We also added a 3 micron pre-filter to keep sediment out of the head unit (to prolong component life by preventing friction buildup) and a post-conditioning carbon filter (for organic contaminants). I also installed a UV filter after all these other components to address microorganisms present in non-municipal (chlorine-free) water sources (wells, ponds, etc.).Bottom line is top-grade household water better than anything I could buy bottled. However, it took a lot of work to find a reputable company to deal with in this business, as there are a LOT of slick willies who will baffle you with terminology and fake test results.Recommendation: Have your water tested independently so you know what you need before you start shopping for a water conditioning/filtration system. If possible, also know how much water you use in a given week/month so you know how much capacity is needed. Then choose the system that meets your needs and your budget. And a company you trust will be there to service your needs moving forward. Good luck!

    1. We bought ours in 1985..[its now feb of 2015]..and we have loved it…we had the service man come out this month..Puronics has bought Ionics now…he showed us where it is rusting in 2 places inside the head of the stainless steel unit…said the larger ”piece” connecting to the back of the head was clogged–rubbers–ect..something about ”gel” in there…any way these 3 parts would be about 1.500.00 to replace them……and offered us a new one for 2,900.00…….what do you think??

  9. Jeff, Our General Ionics system is now 20 YEARS old and still functions as good as the day it was installed! We’ve moved it twice to different locations (the trick is to vacuum out all the water from the tank & make damned sure you don’t tip that stainless steel filtration container over at any point during the move… other than that it’s a piece of cake & anyone who has even basic plumbing knowledge can reinstall)We’ve saved a FORTUNE in laundry soaps, shampoos etc.. I usually use 3/4 teaspoon of Cascade in each of the soap bins in my dishwasher, and about two to three teaspoons of laundry detergent in my front loader washer. We especially save on buying bottled water.Most of our friends & family stop by w/their gallon jugs & their bags of empty bottles to refill them from our system. We NEVER have to change the refrigerator filter (Sears charges 49.95 per filter… what a rip off!) Nor do we have to purchase things like InstaPur or Brita water filters which are very expensive for the refills.One of the reasons our system function so well is we’ve used ONLY the salt provided by General Ionics. Our system runs perfectly & uses approximately 1 bag of salt a month-which isn’t too much. We need to have the bacteriostatic filter changed approximately every year and a half & other than that the system is worry-free. I believe we had one minor repair about a year ago when a part on the valve needed to be replaced.It’s very nice to have an Ionics system when they put out one of those warnings about “boil your water”. I had the water checked by a laboratory after one of those ‘warnings’ & our water was absolutely fine-totally unaffected by whatever it was that was polluting the city water. My neighbors were delighted to come over & get water for cooking and drinking for those three days.My sister [who has well water sky high in iron) went & bought one of those “other” systems (this was about six years ago) & she paid about $3500 for it. Her system broke down after about the fifth year & it has never worked right since. After putting in 500 bucks in repairs she is now negotiating for an Ionics system because she’s seen how good our system works. It is definitely one of the wisest purchases we’ve ever made. We wouldn’t trade it for anything.Hope you enjoy your system… Maralee

  10. I’ve had my Ionics softener for over 20 YEARS! We love it and wouldn’t be without it. As you read these posts, keep in mind what the lady from Akron said – the sales companies are independantly owned. I wish more people said where they live so we’d all know if they’re talking about a company in our area. My local dealer has been here for over 25 years and they say they’re owned by ther parent company. They do great service and I’m happy with all aspects of my water softener and the company. I’m in Columbus, Ohio. Paula

    1. Hi Paula- Yes, the Ohio-based dealer is owned by the parent company (Puronics). They are great people and very knowledgeable. I personally worked with David Goodwin, who trained us on their awesome systems. Glad you also have had a great experience with your system. I know of one customer in the same area who owns an Ionics system fo rover 45 years. So, keep enjoying yours for many more years to come!

  11. This is GREAT !!!…I am a General Ionics employee {Akron ares} and have been for 23 yrs.I did however noticed alot of different things.FYI…Ionics Inc.a Nation-wide,NYSE and BBB Co.. as well,had been around for over 60yrs with both commercial and residental units. In Dec. of 2004 GE aquired the Co. So now they’re “ALL” independently owned and operated companies.[So the Co Names,offers,prices and service departments are all different.]…. I am a “firm” believer that the technology of a GI system is very unique,there is a diference between a water softener and a conditioner. I’ve had one for 15yrs and “love it”..If you’re interested .. go to for more information on the Co,history and benifits of the systems…Lauren..”It’s nice to be important..but,even more important to be nice”..

    1. Lauren,
      We have a system that hasn’t been working for a while now. I am interested in having someone look at it. Can you give me a contact number so I can make an appointment? Thanks.
      Kathy Valent

  12. I have had one of the General Ionics systems for over ten years now. Works just fine with no problems. I use around 80 lbs of salt every 3-4 months depending on our water use. What else can I say? The water is soft..

  13. We have a General Ionic water softener and RO system and totally love them. We’ve had ours for 10 years and have never had a problem. Fabulous product!!

  14. OMG! It just doesn't end with the company that installed and maintains my unit. The water is great! But seriously, The salt is up to $18 a bag. And the exact same salt can be bought about anywhere. Every 6 months they charge me like a $35 fee to some maintance on the machine. Then 1 a year they charge me like $125 to replace some core or something. If I don't have that done I threaten that my warranty would be obsolved. Now I have a broken part that I can mearly remove with 4 screws. They refused to only replace that part and will Charge me $290 to replace the entire meter. The part that broke is not on the warranty. They really can't tell me what actually is under the warranty. It cost me about $411 a year to maintain this system. This year about $711. I've given up. I've spent about $1600 over the last 4 years. Plus the several thousand dollars for the initial unit. I can buy a lot of bottled water for $4-5000 I've paid out in the Last 4 years.

    1. Hi Rusty- Some companies survive from the service maintenance, but you should be able to purchase the salt pellets directly from your local supplier (Lowe’s, Home Depot…) at a lower price ($5~8 per 40Lbs bag). Also, can you please provide the name and location of the local company who serviced your system?

  15. My water turns black to brown every couple of months. I have to leave it running for hours to clear that up. If I had to purchase all over again, I would pass on the offer. I do not recommend the ionics water purification system. If you get a call from them ignore it. It cost way too much money. They did not tell me water would run from the thing at a preset time each day for nearly 30 minutes. O well you leave and learn. I feel I should have known better.

    1. Hi- I can probably help or clarify some questions… Is your black/brown water coming into your home or from the water system (tank)? Did they explain why your system needs to backwash in a daily basis? Which model do you have?

  16. BEWARE… When you buy a General Ionics system, they strap you over the barrel on service costs. Has anyone else experienced this? Yes, the product is great. Yes, it has a lifetime warranty. But, in order to maintain the system and the warranty, you need to have it serviced every 2 years. This includes having the filtration media changed. What they don’t tell you when you’re buying is the following: The service of your system is not a competitive industry. You can only have it serviced by them. This monopoly allows them to jack up the price. And, you have to pay it or else your system won’t work and they’ll void your warranty! I bought a system in 2000. My first service in 2002 was $116. Now the same service only 6 years later is $220! That’s a price jump of 90% in 6 years. When I called to complain, they coddled me with, “All prices go up. That’s inflation. Ford couldn’t possibly sell cars for the same price as 50 years ago.” Are you kidding me? Six years, not 50! And, 90% is a tad out of step with standard inflation indexes. Imagine the Ford Focus costing 90% more in 6 years, with no change in the quality of product. I don’t think they’d be moving to many Foci (the correct plural of Focus). So, then they said that I bought the “Cadillac” and it costs “Cadillac prices” to maintain it. That’s when I started thinking how ironic it is that they sound like car salesmen. But, I’m not comparing the cost of maintaining a Cadillac to maintaining a Ford. I’m comparing the cost of maintaining a Cadillac now to the cost only six years ago. And, it’s gone up 90%! Imagine if cost of your oil change at your Cadillac dealer nearly doubled in 6 years.Then, they griped about the cost of gas because it is a service industry – they come to our home, instead of our taking the filter in to them. Yes, during this period, gas has gone up approximately $2.70/gallon. But, it’s only a 20 mile round trip to my house (which I assume is fairly average). Assuming their vehicle gets only 15 mi/gal (fairly conservative), that only explains an increase of $3.60 over the last 6 years. Not, an increase of $104!Next, they whined that the cost of silver has gone up. After all, General Ionics uses silver impregnated carbon. Yes, after holding steady around $5/oz for a long time, silver increased to a high of $20/oz in March of 2008. Now it has settled back down to around $10/oz. That’s a net change of $5/oz. Do you really think there is a pound and a quarter of silver in there?! That’s how much it would take to explain a $100 price increase due to silver. Finally, after blowing through their crap, talking to three GI reps in two states (including the national director of sales), a regional director of sales admitted that the problem was that the company used to intentionally depress the service cost in order to make sales. Bull. Nobody does that because it doesn’t work. If you want to increase sales, you depress the sales cost and make it up by increasing your service cost, not the visa-versa. That is, unless they are admitting that they needed the service figures low to support their sales scam of showing you how much less expensive it is to have their product versus buying bottled water.Nonetheless, he was admitting that the company roped me into buying with lower than sustainable service costs. Then, once they got many customers over the barrel, they jacked the costs up. Sounds a bit like the sub-prime mortgage scam, doesn’t it? Now, they’re basically saying, “Sucks to be you. Sorry. But that’s the way it is. Either pay the price we dictate, or your filter won’t work and you’ll void the warranty.” I’m stuck over the barrel. So, the only thing I can do is warn their potential customers…Simple bottom line: Don’t buy a General Ionics water filter.Life lesson: If buying a product that requires regular maintenance, ask if the maintenance is a competitive industry. If not, then realize the seller controls a monopoly on your required maintenance. That’s not good. So, if that’s the case, ask for price guarantees on future maintenance. If they won’t give it, don’t buy their product.

    1. Hi Rick- You are right, this seems to be a significant price increase for the maintenance service. One thing I can say as a representative in the water treatment industry, we can’t control the price increase from manufacturers. Currently, the cost for all media has nearly doubled due to the availability from acceptable sources. Another possibility for this price increase may be due to the miscalculation on the cost for service (including their technician) from your local distributor.
      Hope this can clear out the misconception…

  17. l Ionics instal their system in my house. I also got the service agreement. They didn’t show up to service and add salt to my system. They charged me for it though. Then , when I had a prblem, about 6 months after install, they were no where to be found.I stopped paying for the service calls ,that they were not doing any way, and they put a mark on my credit report. I still have a broken system that was supposed to be guarenteed for at least 5 years and didn’t last one. Tank leaks and water never was right. I have had it bypassed ever since. Have tried to contact the company at least 25 times with no results. They are a complete rip off in my opinion. Bill Kyne, Seminole Fl.

  18. I am looking to buy a used unit.The seller said that it was only 3 years old. They had moved and took it with them. The new home has a system on it and that is why they are selling this one. I was wondering if by a part number or style of tank if I can till how old the unit is? It is a solid silver tank. Not just a rap around it. It has a NASA right up on it. Also wondering if I should change the silver carbon and the resin in the tank just so I know it has been done and good to go for a year or more before needing done again. And who to buy the carbon and resin from?? I would be changing it out myself. I had read that the resin goes in the tank first and then the carbon is added to the tank and sits on top of the resin. Sounds simple enough to do myself.
    Thanks for any help.

  19. I inherited a General Ionics water conditioner when I bought my house in 2006, and today I had my first serious problem with it. Serious in that it was dumping water on the basement floor, but not serious in the cost of the repair! The local Ionics service technician walked me through the repair. I was able to fix it using a small hammer, a screwdriver and WD40. Now, it’s running fine and purring. The distributor had a record of installing the unit in the house in 1985.

    The water quality is terrific. I love this water conditioner. If this is the extent of problems after 27 years, I think they’ll have a customer when I need to replace this one.

  20. We’ve had our GI unit since 1996, it has worked well. Based on our usage, which to me is normal, our first service was done AFTER 5 years. It had been checked prior to that but nothing was needed until the filter was needed.

    The fact that I’ve read most of the comments pertaining to the business who offer the product only tells me most of the complaints are probably warranted. That said, the product is good, the people who claim to service it are the problem.

    After 16 years, it has worked like a charm. The quality of the water is still the same as it was in the beginning. We still use less detergent, shampoo, etc. Our skin feels great and better than it does if we shower outside of the house. The idea of ionic / purified water makes a difference, a healthier difference. That is whjWe don’t use special salt or products and if we did, I’m sure we’d see other great results.

    Be reasonable. The product is good. If the service is bad, it’s the service and the services provider’s fault…not the product.

  21. We’ve had a whole house GI system for the past 30-some years and have been very, very pleased with it. Very little service needed. Right now, our old system quit and the part needed is no longer stocked, but we think that with the years and years of good service that we’ve had, we got our money’s worth and we’re probably going to buy the new version. Purchased the system in OH and brought it with us when we moved to OK (GI disconnects old system and readies it for the move and then reinstalled it at new location). It’s worked well here for over a dozen years.

  22. I have had a GI whole house system since 1996 and it worked well even though the back flush time every 400 gallons added considerably to the water bill. The major issue I have is with servicing. The nearest companies are 45 miles away and despite repeated calls to get a new filter both companies tell me someone will call me back and they never do. This has been going on for 4 years.

  23. I’ve had mine since about 1986, water softener and reverse osmosis under kitchen sink. The original warranty has expired and the salt prices have gone thru the roof so I now get the salt at Home Depot or Aldi’s. I use such a small amount of soap for laundry and haven’t bought an abrasive cleaner in a zillion years. No need to. No hard water stains or marks. I love the quality of my drinking water. You can SEE a difference and I have one of the best water company ratings in a large city of western PA.
    I loved it since the beginning, love it still.

  24. I’m a proud owner since 1993 and I love it. I remember the first shower I had after the install. I think I was in the shower trying to rinse the soap I thought was in my hair for about 20 min LOL. But turned out that was the natural oil from my scalp coming out and I really don’t have to use lotion anymore to get that dry hard water build up fell off my skin since the natural oils help moisturize and make my skin look healthy and clean.

    J. Davis
    Gahanna, Ohio

  25. Have had Ionics since 1995. Has worked great for 21 years. However was not a happy customer. Felt we got conned into buying a proprietary system way over priced. We should have done our home work first. They provided a RO under sink drinking system as part of the deal, which we got rid of when it came time to replace the filters. Could only buy their high priced filters as replacements, so we went to Lowes and bought an under sink WhirlPool RO system. Ionics did not tell us of the maintenance package for the softener until after the install was done. Made us mad, made them mad when we refused it. Have had no dealings with them since then. After 21 years of trouble free operation replaced the softener unit with a more reasonably priced Pentair along with adding an iron removal tank. Although Ionics equipment worked well for many years, it was way overpriced and we were poorly treated by their local people, will not do business with them ever.

    A side note to those getting brown water periodically, set your system to backwash more frequently. You’re going too long between backwashes and overwhelming the resin media.

  26. Three hundred dollars a year to service. Seals will go bad and leak. If you have city water it is likely already soft, so putting in this system will make the water super soft. This can lead to your glass dishes being damaged/scratched in wash machines. Lastly, If you ever want to re-sell it is completely worthless. Other than that it works quite well.

  27. I bought my system in 1987. Other than having to buy the charcoal filters from ionics I have no complaints. Red out works best in these systems. Cheaper salt doesn’t work as good. Ten years ago I replaced the resin bed and the salt tank valve. Other than that it has been trouble free.

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