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Written by: Donavan Jones on July 28, 2018

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The Definitive Guide To Water Softener Installation – Learn How to Size, Place & Install Your System

water softener installation

Hard water problems can wreak havoc in your bathroom, kitchen and everywhere that there’s water. What can you do? Install a salt-based water softening system so you can start protecting your plumbing system and household appliances from mineral build-up. In order to install the system correctly, you need to have some basic information on the water softener installation process.

You could hire a professional plumber, but that would set you back at least a couple hundred dollars.

The good news is that you don’t need to be a plumber to install a water softener as long as you have the know-how and the right tools to do the job correctly.

Table Of Contents:

Where To Install My Water Softener

basement and garage

Before you start installing your system you need to decide where you want to put it. The best place to install your water softener is in your basement or garage.

Why?

In most cases, the basement or garage is where the main water line enters your house.

  • For a municipal supply, go downstream of the water meter.
  • For a well system, go right after the pressure tank.

The reason you want to hook up your water softener to your main water supply is so that the system can soften all water entering your home.

Why?

By treating all the water before it enters your home, you will protect the entire plumbing system, your water using appliances and fixtures from mineral clogging. You can branch off a cold water line for your kitchen faucet and/or refrigerator if you want untreated drinking water or if you are planning to install an under the sink reverse osmosis system.

What about gardening? I heard that soft water will kill most plants.

Woman planting flowers in garden

It is true that soft water will kill off most plants, but you can branch off a cold water line for your outdoor taps too.

It is critical that you choose a location that has easy access and has plenty of space to perform maintenance and repair work.

Consider the following:

  • Make sure the ground/floor is dry and even.
  • Place the unit upstream from the water heater. This will reduce scale buildup and thus improve heat exchange efficiency for lower energy bills. Make sure that there is a minimum of 10 feet between the water softener and the water heater. This stops hot water from migrating back into the softener during regeneration.
  • Your water softener shouldn’t be placed too far from a drain. You want the unit to be above the drain but within 20 feet. You can use a floor drain, utility sink, laundry tub, sump or any other viable option as long it can handle the extra water load
  • Most modern water softeners run on electricity. Your system needs to be near a power outlet.
  • If you are replacing an old water softener, it is best to install the new one in the same spot.

Soft Water Loop

Many newly built homes in hard water areas come equipped with what’s called a “soft water loop”. This is just a copper line that allows you to connect your homes inside water pipes to your water softener.

A short piece of this copper line sticks out of the wall. This is where your water softener can be installed without any additional plumbing.

The principal feature of the soft water loop is that the outside water outlets are separated from the inside ones. This way you don’t have to waste softened water on irrigation.

You can find the water loop near the water heater, usually with a 110-volt outlet and a drain line within close range. When installing your water softener, the soft water loop is removed.

Plumbing Diagram

water softener installation diagram

Outside Installation

Manufacturers do NOT recommend to put your water softener outside where the temperatures can drop below freezing.

Why?

This could cause problems with the backwash and cause permanent damage to your water softener.

Your water softener should also avoid direct sunlight. Ideal temperatures range is 35 to 100°F.

If you have to install your system outside then you need to consider suitable weather protection.

Preparation

Don’t void your water softener warranty. Be aware that some manufactures require you to hire a licensed plumber to hook your system up for you!

For any DIY projects that you tackle you need to make the necessary preparation to have a smooth installation. This is true for installing your water softener. The following is a small list of tools and supplies you need to have a successful water softener installation.

  • Copper/flexible (PEX) tubing
  • Solder And Torch
  • Pipe cutter
  • Drain tubing and air gap fitting
  • Plumbers tape
  • Tape measure
  • Slip joint pliers
  • Valves, tees, adaptors, and fittings

Water Softener Installation 101

The following is basic step-by-step instructions on how to install your water softener.

The exact steps to install your water softener may vary on the system you had bought. You need to read the instructions provided by the manufacture. Your water softener installation must also comply with your local plumbing codes.

1. Pre-Installation

  • 1. Turn off your water supply – Shut off the main water supply first. You don’t want to cause a major leak in your home.
  • 2. Turn off your electric water heater – Turn off your electric water heater to protect it from potential damage.
  • 3. Drain all of your involved water lines – Open your water faucets and water outlets so they can drain away all the remaining water in your plumbing system.

pipe wrench om fitting

2. Hooking Up Your Water Softener

  • 1. Install brine tank overflow grommet (not all systems will have this) – Install the brine tank overflow grommet and elbow in the hole at the back of the salt storage tank sidewall
  • 2. Put the water softener in place – Put the water softener in position. Make sure it stands level
  • 3. Cut into your main water line – Using a pipe cutter, cut into the main water line. Use a bucket to catch any water that may come out of the pipe. Sand down the edges till they are smooth
  • 4. Install bypass (not all systems will have this) – Most water softeners come with a built-in bypass valve, but you may have to install it. First grease the bypass valve O-ring with silicone. Push the bypass valve into the water softener valve as far as possible and snap the holding clips into place. If your model doesn’t have a bypass valve feature, we recommend that you add one to your setup. It will allow you to easily shut off your water supply for maintenance and repair work without cutting off your entire houses water supply. Depending on where you live, you are even required by law to install a bypass valve so that your water softener can be easily disconnected in an emergency
  • 5. Connect the inlet and outlet ports – Connect the incoming and outgoing water lines to your water softener’s inlet and outlet ports. It is very important to get the flow direction right. If you don’t then your water softener will not provide any soft water. This is a very common mistake! For the pipe connections, you can use either hard or flexible tubing. The flexible tubing requires extra adapters but it makes it easier to set up and remove. Lastly, seal any threads with plumber’s tape unless otherwise instructed in the manual
  • 6. Drain connection – Salt-based water softeners require a drain connection. Connect the drain hose to the water softener’s drain valve fitting. Use claps to hold the hose in place. Route the other end of the drain hose to a drain and secure it. In most cases, the drain hose must not be pushed directly into the drain. If you do then you risk a chance that the wastewater may siphon back into the tank. In most cases, an air gap fitting is required.
  • 7. Overflow connection – The overflow connection is an additional safety measure to prevent the brine tank from overflowing. Connect a second hose to the overflow valve and secure it with a clamp. Route the overflow hose to the drain. Secure the hose to the drain so it does not whip around. An air gap may also be required
  • 8. Install brine line – A brine line will allow a side-by-side water softener to suck brine from the brine tank to the risen tank.

 

installed water softener

3. Post-Installation

  • 1. Fill the brine tank with salt – Place the brine well inside of the brine tank. Now fill the brine tank with salt. Check the manual for what type of salt and how much to add to the tank. With most water softeners you will be filling the tank till its 2/3 fulls
  • 2. Sanitizing – You might be required to fully sanitize the water softener before use.
  • 3. Put the water softener in bypass mode and slowly turn on your water supply – Start off slow, a sudden increase in water pressure can damage your plumbing system. Open a cold water faucet that is nearby beforehand. Check your system for leaks. Give your system a few minutes to flush out any air that is in the system
  • 4. Partially open the bypass valve – Slowly open the bypass valve to allow the flow of water to enter the resin tank. You will hear air coming out of the drain line. Once the noises stop you can fully open the valve. Now is the time to turn your electric water heater back on.
  • 5. Check your system for leaks – Check all connectors, fittings, and valves for leaks
  • 6. Plug in – Plug in your new water softener
  • 7. Regenerate – Start a full regeneration cycle.
  • 8. System set up – You have to set the time of day, your water hardness level and how often your water softener should regenerate. Check the provided manual.
Are you ready to install your own water softener? Contact us today so you can own the very best water softener you can buy.

Replacing An Old Water Softener

Replacing an old water softener is an easy task. After all, the necessary plumbing has already been done.

Before you begin tackling the regular setup process outlined above, you need to unplug your old water softener and put it in bypass mode. Now you can separate it from the plumbing.

Next, move the old system over to a drain and tip it over. Check that all water is drained before disposal.

The salt that was in the old water softener may be worth saving.

The Eagle Water Difference

Our water softener installations are usually near direct plumbing. Water softeners soften the water that enters your home and it’s important that all of your water goes through the water softener. The location of the water softener installation will depend on the type of system you bought and will be determined by the installer. Most of our Water Softener Installations takes less than a day to install but it depends on the system you had chosen. It is important to choose a reputable company, such as Eagle Water, with experienced installers to make sure the water softener installation is completed in a timely fashion.

why choose Eagle Water

Conclusion

Hard water can cause problems in your bathroom, kitchen and everywhere that there’s water. That’s why you want to install a new water softener in your home. The guide above should be able to help you get started and mentions many tips to help you successfully install your water softening system. If you have any question or you are stuck installing your system, please give us a call so we can help you achieve high-quality water for many years to come. 

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Donavan Jones

About Donavan Jones

Donavan Jones is the marketing manager at Florida Water Analysis. He's an expert in inbound marketing and lead generation. In his spare time, Donavan is developing a video game with his friends and family.


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