To successfully install a water softener, you need decent knowledge about how a water softener works, how water flows into your home, and soldering skills. The process of installing a water softener involves specific components and processes such as the bypass valve, an electrical outlet, using your drain line, cutting off the house’s water supply, turning off your water heater, and figuring out where to install a water softener.

It’s a straightforward process if you’re familiar with plumbing. But there are a few things to do before installing a water softener. You need to get the necessary tools, understand the installation process, be sure about the cost to install a water softener, and avoid common mistakes people make when they want to place a softener.

Things to Do Pre-Installation

Your knowledge on how to install a water softener is incomplete without knowing what to do before the water softener installation. So here let’s get started:

Finding Out If Your House Has a Water Loop

A water loop’s primary function is to retain soft water in your home by channeling it to the various faucets and appliances that use water, such as your water heater. It also hinders the flow of soft water to external appliances (outside the home). In essence, they help the home save softened water.

Certain homes were plumbed with a water loop already in place. Water loops lessen the need for a plumber to install your water softener. With water loops already present in your home, the process will take a couple of hours and can be done by a novice.

In the absence of a water loop, you have to place new pipes to channel water away from the primary water line that takes water into your home. Your water softener will be installed or connected to these new pipes.

The water loop usually protrudes out of the wall, forming a U-shape before disappearing back into the wall a bit further.

Cutting Off the Main Water Lines

Ensure your main water supply to the house is shut down. You can locate the valve of the supply line and lock it. The valve can be inside or outside your home (close to the water meter, in the garage, or utility room). Before you place the softener, open all the faucets to drain any water still held in the pipes. Most houses usually have cold and hot water faucets.

Deciding the Location for the Water Softener Installation

As you know, the primary purpose of your softener is to combat hard water.

The next thing is to choose where to install your water softener. The ideal location will be somewhere to easily connect it to your home’s plumbing system or the main water line. The place should be flat-grounded and dry, such as your basement, garage, or even close to your water heater.

location of water softener

It’s advisable to install the water softener near your water heater. This ensures that the system will protect your water heater from hard water damage by hindering the accumulation of sediments in your hot water pipe and your heater.

Please make sure that the area surrounding the softener has enough space. Again, this is to ensure that you can efficiently service it when the need arises.

The softener shouldn’t be directly exposed to the sun, outside the house, and somewhere with a freezing temperature (4 degrees Celsius). It can quickly freeze, and this will permanently impair your water softener.

The Necessary Connections

There are certain things you need when installing a water softener. One of them is the drain line. It can be the drain on the floor or the faucet sink. You must channel the cold water lines to outdoor faucets before connecting them to the water softener.

Also, the water softener will require an electrical outlet that’s not regulated by a switch nearby. It should be an outlet that can handle the required voltage for the water softener to be active. The voltage required by the water softener depends on the brand or capacity of the softener.

A lot of water softeners come along with their bypass valve. However, before installing the water softener, you must know how to connect the bypass valve and link it to the system.

Depending on the plumbing system, you might also need to install valves to the water supply lines that make up the water loop. Water softeners that usually come with such bypass valves typically come with the company’s manual.

The Tools Required for Water Softener Installation

To install the water softener, you should get a

  • soldering iron kit
  • measuring tape
  • malleable tubing
  • wrench
  • Teflon tape
  • pipe cutters
  • flux
  • elbow fitting
  • copper pipe,
  • adaptors/brass fittings

How to Install a Water Softener in 5 Steps

You can also refer to this process as plumbing the water softener. The steps for installing a water softener are outlined and explained below:

  1. Use your pipe cutter to cut the part of your water loop that connects both pipes. Once done, you’ll have both pipes coming out of the wall. While one of these pipes channel hard water into your softener, the other pipe channels soft water out of the loop into the house and your appliances, such as your water heater.
  2. Connect the elbow fitting (a curved pipe) to one of the separated water supply lines. You should fit this curved pipe to align with the outflow and inflow valves of the water softener. For instance, if your water loop is at a high position on the wall, the curved pipe should face the ground. If the water loop of your plumbing system is at a low position on the wall, the elbow fitting will be placed to face skywards.
  3. Use your measuring tape to know the length of the pipe needed for closing the gap between the elbow fitting and the valves of your water softener. Use your pipe cutter to cut the elbow fitting to its required length.
  4. Before you connect the curved pipe, use the soldering iron to solder the brass fittings needed to attach the pipes to the bypass valve.
  5. Connect the elbow fitting to both pipes with the help of the brass fittings and the adaptors that came with the water softener.

Bonus step: Put a clamp on the drain hose of the water softener to stop water from coming back to the system. You can channel the second end of the drain hose into a faucet sink.

Setting Up your Brine Tank

Connect the overflow tube of your salt-based water softener to its brine tank. Ensure the height and positioning of the tube is right. Use your manual as a guide.

Once connected, fill up your brine tank with water softener salt.

Salt is what the softener uses to treat hard water, and the salt needs to be refilled periodically. Once your brine tank is set up, release the bypass valve for your house’s water supply. This will remove almost all of the sediments accumulating in your plumbing.

Typical Mistakes in Installing a Water Softener

Using too many Guides or Manuals

There are many guides and manuals for installing a water softener. It will help if you stick to one. Every company has its manual, and it’s usually designed for its system. Using a company’s manual or guide for another company’s system can result in disaster.

So if you’ve decided to do this yourself, refrain from jumping from manual to manual in the process of your water softener installation.

Inaccurate Drain Hose Positioning

If you’re doing this yourself, you will likely place the hose wrongly during the installation process.

To prevent the occurrence of flooding in your surroundings, ensure that you channel your drain hose to somewhere that can easily drain the volume of the water coming out of it.

Using the Wrong Capacity/Size of the Water Softener

This is another common mistake made in the installation process. People tend to purchase the wrong size of water softener for installation. It is best to get an expert’s opinion, such as a plumber, before making that purchase.

Buying the wrong size will be a waste of money because the system will be unable to match the demands of your home. Plus, it will easily break down due to overload, which will make you frequently spend on repairs.

Forgetting to Put Salt in your Brine Tank When Setting it Up

It’s very common to install the water softener, set up the brine tank, and then activate your house’s water supply without filling the tank with salt. That should be the next step once the tank is fully set up.

salt in water softener tank

Last Words

The installation cost ranges from brands and sizes, but the average minimum cost of installation is usually $500.

This article contains information on how to install the softener. It includes in-depth details on things to do before installation, the installation tools, the installation process, and mistakes made when installing the softener.

About the Author

Paul Morton

Paul is a retired plumber who now spends hours on home improvement projects. From fixing toilets to leaking pipes in crawls spaces, there is nothing Paul can't do or wouldn't try. Paul was running his own plumbing company and is our expert in regard to all types of water filtration systems.

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