Water Softener Installation Basics

If the water that flows into your home for daily use is hard water – and that is the case for a lot of households – it can cause all kinds of problems. The mineral deposits found in hard water build up in the water pipes and in your home’s hot water tank making both work inefficiently.

Water Softener Installation
(Photo courtesy of GE Appliances)

That same filmy residue also affects household appliances like dishwashers and coffee makers and it is the cause of that annoying ring around the bath tub. Hard water even causes your favorite shampoos and soaps not to work the way they should and even after a long shower many people who are living with hard water in their homes still feel sticky and “not quite clean” . Purchasing and installing a water softener can solve your hard water problem and with it all of the difficulties described above.

Once you have chosen the right water softener system for your home and made your purchase you will probably be given the option to have the unit professionally installed or to choose to do it yourself. If you are a fairly handy type of person – the kind that likes to do their own DIY work – installing a water softener is usually not as hard as you might think, and doing it yourself will of course usually save you money!

Here are the basic steps involved in installing the average water softener:

  • Choose Your Location- Chances are that you chose where you were going to install your new water softener before you purchased it because location is important. For a water softener to function best you will need to find a place that is dry and not prone to very cold temperatures. The system will need to be installed near the main water line into the house, to a drain and it will also need to be near an electrical outlet.
  • Shut Off the Water – Before you begin the installation of your water softener you will need to shut off the water supply at the mains. After you have done this drain any remaining water from the lines by turning on the taps located at the highest and lowest points of the house until they run dry.
  •  Shut off Valves and Power – The next step you will need to follow is to shut of both the valve and the power to the water heater. If your water heater is gas powered usually setting it to “pilot” will do that.
  •  Get Ready to Connect the New Water Lines – Using a pair of pipe wrenches loosen the union on the existing water pipe so that you can tap the new water lines into it. Using the same pipe wrenches you can then connect the new water lines.
  •  Install the Remote Bypass System – The next step in installing a water softener is to install the remote bypass system. This is the system of piping that will divert the water from the mains into the water softener to be treated. It usually consists of a fairly short pipe that connects the feed line pipe and service line so that the water will flow just the way you need it to. The whole thing is usually held together by adding two male adapters.
  • Connect Everything Together – This can sometimes be the trickiest part of water softener installation because it calls for soldering, something that not everyone is comfortable doing. If you are confident though soldering all the pipes together should only take a few minutes.
  •  Removing the Barbed Fittings – Before you can install the drain line you will need for the water softener to function you will need to carefully remove the barbed fittings located behind the controls of the water tank. Once you have done this you will need to apply contractors tape to the threads and then reattach the fittings. You can then attach the drain tube to it and secure the drain using standard cable ties.
  •  Continue Your Drain Line – Next you will need to continue your drain line until it is near the drain. You should however leave a gap of about 4 inches between the end of the line and the drain itself to prevent backflow.
  •  Set Up The Brine Tank – Setting up the brine tank is your next step. After removing the lid from it you will need to push a length of tubing through the hole located on the side of the tank. After adding a compression filter run the tubing from the brine tank to resin tank intake, locate on the side of the control valve. Then you can replace the brine tank lid. You will then need to install another drain tube, this time from the side of the brine tank and run it to the drain.
  •  Testing Testing – After shutting off the bypass open the valve going into the water softener and make sure that there are no leaks. If there are not you can then open up the service valve ready for the water to flow through. Lug the system in and turn the water back on at the mains.

Last but not least you should add the recommended amount of salt to the brine tank and let your new water softener start to do its work!

These are very basic directions, each water softener comes with its own that need to be followed. This should however give you an idea of how hard the basic installation of a water softener is so that you can decide whether to install it yourself or leave the job to a professional.

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