Water Softener Installation - The Complete Guide on how to Install a Water Softener
Need to know how to install a water softener? Having hard water flowing through your pipes can make water usage in your home difficult at best and costly at worst.
Hard water makes it difficult for detergent to suds, can stain your sinks and fixtures, and can even corrode your pipes, causing them to degrade and require replacement. This is why people just tend to find water softeners such a useful technology to have in their homes. It is not just a luxury anymore, it's a necessity for each and every home. It keeps you and your family safe from sickness and you just can not put a price on that.
Hard water also frequently accompanies minerals that can make your water taste or smell bad, as well. Correcting these problems is as easy as installing a water softening system in your home, a project you can frequently do yourself in a few hours.
DIY Water Softener Installation - Difficulty Level
There are several different types of water softening systems that you can install in your home, and each has its own level of difficulty.
Depending on your home, the types of pipes you have, and the location you intend to install your softener in, your difficulty level can also vary. It is recommended to hire a professional if you haven’t had any experience in doing various home improvement projects, nonetheless jobs that involve pipes. It’s something that you don’t want to mess with because it can cause a lot of mess if you do not know what you are doing down there. I’ve heard of a guy that flooded his whole house because he didn’t know what he was doing. Yikes!
That being said, most homeowners that have some DIY experience and who are comfortable with cutting through pipes can tackle this project with several different kinds of filters.
Some smaller filters will only require you to install some compression nuts on the pipes, but larger whole house filters may require soldering of the pipes.
On a scale of 1 to 10, with a 1 being so easy that anyone of any ability level can install it, and a 10 being so difficult that only a professional can do the job, you should consider:
- Salt-based systems such as GE systems (www.watersoftenercritic.com/ge-water-softener-reviews) running about a 6 to an 8 simply due to the way that the pipes connect.
- Salt-free systems can range from a 4 to an 8 depending on the type of system you get, whether it is electrical or uses a filter media, and what type of pipes you have
- Magnetic systems are extremely easy to install, and are around a 2 – nearly anyone can install these with ease
- Reverse osmosis systems vary tremendously based on the size you get. An under the sink system is about a 5, but a whole house system may be a 10+ - in fact, most whole house system will need professional installation simply because they require 300 gallon holding tanks, extremely large pumps, and a delicate balance of membranes
Keep in mind that in some areas, installing a whole house water filtration or water softening system will require you to conform to building codes and possibly to pull a permit as well.
If a permit is required, keep in mind that your work will be inspected by the town after completion.
Check with your town hall before you begin to find out what types of systems may require a permit.
Where To Install A Water Softening System
The type of system that you install is going to dictate in large part where you end up putting it. So, if you are unsure about this part of the job then I would suggest hiring a professional instead rather than trying to accomplish the task on your own. It’s better to be safe than sorry especially when it comes to expensive things like a water softener. Personally, I’d rather have someone do it for me for a couple of twenties than having to bother doing it on my own and risking doing it wrong. Unless, you got the skills needed to execute it properly, I’d pay someone else to do it.
Whole house systems, for example, need to be installed as close to the place where the water enters your house as possible.
You’ll want the system to feed into the hot water heater at a minimum, because otherwise the hard water could end up corroding the tank and shortening its lifespan.
Do not install your softener downstream from your water heater, as the high temperatures could damage the unit.
If you are installing a reverse osmosis or salt-based system, you will also need to ensure that your system is near a drain, or that it can be flushed into a nearby drain or into a sump pump to be flushed outdoors. Under sink models can usually drain straight into the waste line.
- Salt-Based Systems
- Reverse Osmosis Systems
- Magnetic Systems
If you are installing a salt-based system, and for health reasons you need to restrict sodium in your drinking water, you may want to place your system so that it bypasses either the cold water entirely, or just bypasses your drinking faucets.
Reverse osmosis filters can soften your water while removing things like chlorine, rust, and sediment as well, but these are usually installed just at your faucet to improve the taste of your water, rather than at the point where water enters your home.
It’s possible to purchase a large enough system to soften the water throughout your home, while improving the taste and quality of the water, but this can get very expensive, and usually requires professional installation.
Magnetic systems are the easiest to install, and can be put nearly anywhere.
It’s recommended that you install them on your main water line as close to where the water enters your house as possible.
Remember, the further back on the line you go, the more you’ll be protecting your pipes from the corrosive effects of hard water.
In most homes, you’ll want to install your system in your basement, or in a utility closet close to your water heater.
Even systems that aren’t covering the whole house should ideally be installed as far down the line a possible so that your showers, washing machine, kitchen and bathroom sinks are all covered.
Water Softener Installation Costs
As with any plumbing job, your biggest costs in installing a new water softening system are going to come from the water softener itself.
Reverse osmosis systems are the most costly, which is why many people opt for the smallest versions possible and install them only at the faucet.
Keep in mind that the size of your unit is directly correlated to the size of your home; the more water that the system has to filter, the more it will cost.
- Both salt and non-salt media filtering units cost roughly the same amount, ranging in cost from $400-$1000 on average for the unit itself. If you use a salt-based system, keep in mind that your total cost will also include the salt, which can run you about $20 a month
- Magnetic systems are amongst the easiest to install, and are usually installed by homeowners, rather than by a pro. They range in cost from $200 to $1000 for the unit, all depending on size of the system and the size of the pipes you’ll be connecting them to.
- Reverse osmosis systems are among the most expensive. A whole house unit could run you between $3000 and $4000 just for the system alone, but you can find some under the sink models that cost as little as $200
Keep in mind that factored into the cost of doing the work yourself is any tools and other materials you may need, such as a pipe cutter, fittings, and a soldering torch. If you have these tools already in your possession, your cost will be less than if you need to purchase them.
Costs to Have a Pro Do the Install
If you’re not comfortable with doing the install yourself, there are many companies out there that can do the work for you. Their prices range depending on the size of the unit, its location, and how hard it is to reach.
- According to homewyse.com, salt and non-salt units begin their pricing for installation at around $100 a unit. Depending on the time it takes and how hard it is to access the place they will be installing, this price could go up to as much as $300.
- Magnetic systems are rarely installed by Pros, simply because it’s such an easy job that most homeowners tackle it themselves. You can expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $100 to have it done by a handyman if you find that you’re unwilling to do it yourself.
- Reverse Osmosis systems tend to run around $300 to $400 for the install, with installation running around 2-1/2 hours start to finish. Keep in mind that these figures could be higher if the system is difficult to reach.
Finding a Pro to Do the Install
If you decide to have a Pro go ahead with the install for you, you can generally find one a few different ways.
In many cases, the company you purchase the unit from will be able to assist with installation, preferring to give you a package deal on purchase and install.
In fact, some reverse osmosis manufacturer will install your unit for free when you purchase directly from them. Otherwise, you can generally find someone to do the install for you by visiting 1800contractor.com to find a certified technician in your area.
How to Install a Water Softener: A Step-by-Step Guide
Keep in mind that every water softener system that you purchase may come with its own set of instructions. Always refer to the included instructions when installing your water softener.
Enjoy Your New System
Hard water isn’t necessarily harmful to your health, but it can make your life more difficult by damaging your pipes, staining your sink, and even making your water have a distinctive taste or odor.
Installing a water softening system is a great way to help solve these problems, giving you fresh clear water any time you want it.
Remember to always follow the specific instructions for the water softening system you have purchased, and if you run into problems, try consulting a few DIY forums such as the DIY Chatroom or DIY Forums.