Effortless Water Softener Installation: A Step-by-Step Guide

The difference between hard water and soft water is that hard water contains the minerals calcium and magnesium. Although not unhealthy, hard water can be frustrating because of the many side effects. It leaves a film on your dishware, causes clothes to feel rough and look dingy, leaves soap scum on your shower floor, and many other negative effects.

The best way to eliminate hard water in your home is to add a water softener. This type of equipment works by using a chemical process that replaces the harsh minerals with either sodium or potassium, which converts hard water to soft. This process is referred to as ion exchange. After installing a unit in your home, your clothing will appear cleaner, and you will even feel cleaner.

When it comes to water softener installation, most people prefer to place their system in the garage or basement where it won’t become an eye-sore to yourself and others. The most important details to consider is that the location is dry, level, stays above freezing temperatures, remains out of direct sunlight, and is at least 10 feet away from your water heater. The softener will also need to be located near an electrical outlet; otherwise you will have to install one yourself. You also want to ensure that the unit is near the water’s main line and close to a drain.You will also need to place the unit in a location where you can walk around the system. This will allow you to perform any maintenance without difficulty.

Water that goes through home water softeners and gets piped through your plumbing is not 100% pure. Water that is not purified, or unprocessed usually contain minerals like calcium and magnesium. The more calcium and magnesium your water contains, the harder it becomes.

Do You Need a Water Softener?

The hardness of your water is determined by the number of grains per gallon or the GPG. One to ten GPG is acceptable, even an eleven to eighteen GPG is tolerable. But when it reaches over eighteen GPG it can start to damage your water pipes. At this point, water treatment will be necessary to lower your GPG count in order to avoid damage and blockage of the pipes.

Hard water can also destroy your appliances aside from ruining your water pipes. Getting home water softeners installed in your house can minimize the damaging effects of hard water. Water softening systems differ and each one come with specific installation directions.

Installing a Water Softener

Installing a water softener is not a simple task to accomplish on your own; however, with a bit of knowledge, it is actually not too difficult. All you really need are some plumbing abilities and the right tools. Following is a list of items you’ll need and instructions on how to complete this common project.

Things You Will Likely Need:

  •  A water softening unit
  • Tape measure
  • Pipe wrench
  • Tee valves
  • Gate valves
  • 2 Compression fittings
  • Tubing or copper pipe
  • Flexible tubing
  • Tube cutter or hack-saw
  • PVC solvent or flux
  • Teflon tape
  • Torch and solder


Some parts of the installation process are shared by most systems. These simple tips will guide you through the steps of installing your water system. If you are placing a water softening device in your home, it will help to know basic installation tips to make your appliance work more efficiently.


Indoor Installation

The first important thing you should keep in mind about installing home water softeners is to keep the device indoors and make sure you place them in a dry place with constant temperatures. If your system uses multiple tanks, keep them close to each other and let the tanks have easy access to the brine tank because you will need to refill it often.

Outdoor Installation

In case you need to put your tank outdoors, place it in the shade away from sunlight. You can also use a cover that protects it from direct sunlight and extreme weather. You should also install your system near an electrical outlet and a drain of at least one and a half inches wide.

Incase Your Water Softener Uses Tabulator

If your softening system uses a big 64,000-grain tank or if it uses a tabulator, then you may have to construct a gravel under a bed before installing your water softening system. The tubular mixes and stirs the resin during the back washing process to get iron sediments out, but not all home water softeners have tabulators.

After you place the gravel, follow the rest of the instructions on the manual and install the bypass valve and pipes to connect the water. The instructions enclosed with your appliance should tell you how to connect your softening device to your home plumbing system.

Once you have hooked up your system, connect the home water softeners control valve to the brine tank, then connect the brine tank overflow to the ground drain. Test the system by turning the backwash cycle on to make sure that the appliance is not leaking.

How to Install a Water Softener

  • Begin by shutting off the water supply at the main line and allowing the pipes to drain. You can do this by opening the faucets at both the lowest and highest points in your home, as well as any outdoor faucets.
  • Turn off the water heater valve and disconnect its power source. If you have a gas water heater, set its controller to the pilot setting.
  • Carefully use two pipe wrenches or channel locks to loosen the union on the water line. This will enable you to integrate the new water lines into the existing plumbing.
  • Connect the new water lines to the existing ones.
  • Install a remote bypass system. This consists of pipes that allow water to either flow through the water softener or bypass it entirely. Attach the feed-line pipe to the service-line using a short pipe to create the bypass.
  • Attach a male adapter to the female adapter on the tank. Then, install a union fitting at the end of the male adapter.
  • Apply flux to the ends of the pipes, then connect the fittings.
  • Use a torch to heat the pipes and solder the joints together. Finally, reconnect the main water line.
  • Turn on the water supply at the main line and restore power to your water heater.
  • Open any stop valves leading to your water heater and check for any potential leaks.
  • Install the drain line by removing the barbed fitting from the tank. Apply Teflon tape to the threads, reattach the barbed fitting, and connect the drain tube to it. Extend the drain line to the appropriate drain location, ensuring there’s a 4-inch gap between the drain and the end of the line to prevent backflow.
  • Install the brine line by removing the lid from the brine tank. Insert a tube through the hole on the tank’s side, attach a compression fitting to the tube’s end, and connect it to the safety valve. Run the brine line to the resin tank and install another compression fitting at the opposite end of the tube.

Final Note

If you’re not fully confident in your ability to complete this project then I would recommend calling a certified technician. It’s not an easy task to install a system and only someone with the right knowledge should attempt to do so. I would recommend calling around to find the cheapest price in your area before settling with someone. Just make sure that the person who is installing your system is fully certified to do so.

Following the Instruction in Installation Manual

You should also study the installation instructions that come with your home water softeners because each device has particular differences aside from general instructions. Some basic installation procedures and preparations are similar to each other as stated above.

We always feel its best to contact a professional for the installation of a water softener in your home. But if you’re handy, or a DIY’er, our friends at This Old House show you how to install a water softener at your home in the video below.

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