Water Softener Installation: How To Install A Water Softener

The myriad of problems that arise from using hard water – from clogged pipes, stained silverware, to appliances damage – are best solved by softening the water. This is where a water softener comes in handy. At its core, a water softener is a device that removes some of the dissolved magnesium, calcium, and other minerals thereby reducing the hardness of the water.

Softening your water will infuse some extra years into many if not all of your water-related appliances, save you money owing to a reduction in the maintenance costs of your plumbing systems, and improved efficiency of the water heater. As such, it is of critical importance that the installation of the water softener is done with the utmost care and attention to detail.

The goal is to end up with a water softening system that functions effectively and efficiently. Herein we will explore the various water softener installation solutions in intricate details to help you choose the best solution for your particular situation and needs.

The Water Softener Installation Options Available

#1. DIY Installation

This option is only suitable to savvy DIY-ers. Given the complexity of adding a water softening system to your indoor plumbing system, learning on the job might prove too costly. Instead, only attempt to install the water softener if you have the understanding and capacity to research the best system that suits your needs and later on install the system.

The DIY Installation Process

A DIY installation should start with a water test. The test will help you understand how hard the water is. In turn, the results of the test will help you decide on the type of system to purchase for your home. The next step is to identify the best place to install the softener. The location should have access to the water supply line.

Additionally, the area should also have access to electricity supply to power to the softener.

After purchasing the unit, install and secure the bypass valve on the water softener. The bypass valve typically comes with the unit. It is designed to redirect the water supply from the source, passing the unit and straight to the taps if the need arises.

The next step is to tie the water softener to the water supply.

For the best experience over the life of the softener, tie in the unit using a flexible line. To this end, install adapters to the main water supply to screw the flexible lines onto. Use push-fit adapters or solder the adapter if you have the skills and equipment to do so. Connect the inlet pipe to the valve and outlet line to the house supply line.

The next step is to install a drain, which can be a utility sink, a standpipe, or a floor drain. You need somewhere to drain the water during the regeneration cycle.

The final step is to add the salt and start up the system. Based on water test results and the manufacturer's recommendations, you will know the right kind of salt to use and how much of it to use. Thereafter program the correct settings on the water softener to meet your needs. For instance, set the water hardness level, the time of day when the unit should run, and how much the unit should operate before running regeneration and rinsing cycles.

Difficulty Level: A DIY installation process is only easy if you have prior plumbing experiences or ample plumbing skills. The only exception is when replacing an old unit, where you do not have to make any modifications.

Time Investment: The entire process is time-consuming. You have to shop around for the unit and supplies and implement the project from start to finish.

Associated Cost: A DIY waters softener is the most budget-friendly installation process as you do away with the costly labor cost a professional would demand.

The Good

  • You can save as much as $200 to $500 you would pay in installation costs
  • A DIY water softener installation project gives you control over the entire process and a chance to use the best inputs in appliances
  •  You can work on the project at your own pace. For instance, you can complete a replacement project in a matter of hours.

The Bad

  • Lack of plumbing skills can result in poor workmanship. You need moderate plumbing skills to install the unit properly if your house has no provision for a water softener
  • Finding the best place to install the unit might a challenge to a novice
  • There is a potential for accidents to happen if you are a novice
  • Generally, find a level location that is dry and near electricity supply. Ensure the location has at least 10 feet of piping to the heater. Moreover, ensure you have a drain nearby.

#2. Retailer Installation

Using a retailer installation approach to installing your water softener is the most hands-off approach possible. Typically, you only have to decide the water softener type, model, and make that will serve your needs, and the retailer handles the rest.

The Retailer Installation Process

You can carry out your own research and decide on the water softener unit that suits your house and household. Alternatively, you can simply head to one of the major or local retailers such as Sears, Home Depot, Lowe's, and consult a salesperson on the best water softener for your needs. After selecting your water softener and purchasing, the retailer will assign the installation project to one of the contractors. The professional will guide you through understanding the details and install the unit as well.

Difficulty Level: This is the most straightforward approach to adding a water softener to your home. The salesperson will guide you through choosing a water softener, negating the need to do research as well as guiding you in preparing for the installation process. Finally, the assigned contractor will handle all the installation processes.

Time Investment: You do not have to spend time researching and understanding every aspect of water softeners. The salespersons and the professional contractor will guide you and much of the process.

Associated Cost: Retailers use their negotiating power to get their customers the best deal possible when negotiating with the professional installers. As such, you end up incurring a moderate cost.

The Good

  • Working with your retailer is the most hands-off solution you can get as the retailer handles the majority of the processes
  • There are cost savings to be had when you purchase a complete water softener package with installation
  • You can also access retailers' financing programs when you buy a whole package
  • Retailers tend to offer better warranty terms when you purchase a water softener with an installation package

The Bad

  • The installation is not immediate and can take a few days to a few weeks depending where you live
  • The quality of workmanship can be inconsistent

#3. Plumber Installation

Going for the plumber installation option is choosing a DIY and retailer hybrid option. Homeowners share the responsibilities of the project with a professional plumber.

The Plumber Installation Process

For this option, you have to research the best water softener to meet your needs. Additionally, after purchasing the unit, you need to prepare for installation. After that, you pass on the baton to the professional plumber. The plumber will install the system, typically in one to three hours.

Difficulty Level: Going this route can result in a challenging experience. You have to research the best unit to purchase. Moreover, you have to prepare the installation site and coordinate with the plumber.

Time Investment: Given that you will take charge of major responsibilities in the project, you have to dedicate a considerable amount of time.

Associated Cost: This approach can be costly, depending on the labor cost occasioned by using professional plumbers.

The Good

  • You have some control over the project, especially when selecting the unit to purchase
  • Negates the problems of poor workmanship from arising

The Bad

  • You will pay for the unit and installation at a premium
  • If you are not careful, there is a possibility of being wrongly advised by the plumber especially on the water softener to purchase
  • You have to schedule for the installation job with the plumber, which may leave you waiting for a while

To make this option work, shop around with different professional plumbers, and get written quotes to compare. Importantly, ensure there are no hidden costs by reading the fine print in the quotes you get.

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