How to install a water softener: The process and what to expect

Have you ever wondered how water softeners work? Have you tried to install one in your home but were intimidated by the technology involved? Softeners are essentially advanced filtration systems that make tap water suitable for drinking. These systems are small, low-maintenance, and easy to install. Here's how to install a water softener.

Proper tool selection and a manufacturer's installation guide is crucial to a successful water softener installation. The first step in installing your water softener is to turn off your main water supply. Connect the cold-water line under your sink to the existing plumbing after turning off your water supply.

Next, remove any existing valves or faucets that are attached to the cold-water line. Then, install a new valve on the hot-water side of the system. This will allow for future connections between the two lines.

Finally, connect both sides by using the appropriate fittings. Once this has been completed, reconnect your water supply and test out your newly installed water softening unit. If everything works properly, then congratulations! You have just successfully installed a water softener.

Table of Contents

How to install a water softener

In general, the process of installing a water softener is not complicated. You just need to find a water softener that best suits your needs and budget and installs it with the help of a professional plumber.


Use the right tools and follow the manufacturer's instructions to install a water softener.

Install all surfaces after they have been cleaned and free of debris. Also, check the temperature of the incoming water before starting the installation procedure. Make sure that there is no ice buildup inside the pipes. Ice could cause damage to the piping during the installation process. In addition, keep track of the amount of time spent on each part of the project so that you know when to stop working. It may take several hours to complete the entire job.

Tools Needed

The following list includes some basic items needed for installation:

• Plumbing tape

• Pipe wrench

• Rubber gloves

• Safety glasses

• Workbench

It is typically straightforward to install a water softener, but it can be time-consuming. Locating the system's installation location is the first step in the installation process. Ensure that the water supply is within 100 feet of where you are installing the system.

Steps For Installing Your Water Softener

1. Turn off the main supply line.

Turning off the main supply line ensures that nothing gets damaged while connecting the water softener. First, shut down the power at the breaker box located near where the water enters your house. Next, open up the cabinet containing the electrical panel. Disconnect the wires connected to the main service entrance. Now, locate the circuit breakers associated with the water heater. Open them up and flip them back into their original position. Close the cover over the electrical panel once again.

Step 1: Install bypass valve.

The first step in setting up a bypass valve is to install the software.

You will need to install a bypass valve so that the water you put into the system will not go through it. The pipe coming out of your home should be large enough for this purpose, but you will need to install one if it is not.

Step 2: Put in the system

You should put your water softener system in place and tighten all of the bolts securely.

The water softener will need to be installed near the incoming pipe, or you can have a stand-alone system.

Step 3: Shut Off Electricity and Water

Turn off electricity and shut down the water supply by turning off the faucet handle. This prevents damage to the electrical components when power surges occur during normal use.

Step 4: Drain Tank

Before draining the water tank, disconnect the water supply pipes from the water softening cartridge. Then open the bottom cover of the water tank and pour the contents out onto a clean surface. Do not allow the water to spill anywhere else because it could cause problems later.

Step 5: Install Elbows

Install elbows wherever there needs to be a connection point. These connectors help prevent leaks. They also provide flexibility in connecting different parts.

Step 6: Connect Pipes Together

Connect the two ends of the supply pipes using either compression couplings or threaded unions. Make sure that these joints are tight.

Step 7: Set Up Pressure Relief Valve

Set up the pressure relief valve according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Step 8: Install pipes

Attach the drain pipe to the outlet fitting located inside the house. Attach the other end of the drain pipe to the waste line outside the building.

Step 9: Fill Tanks With Saltwater Solution

Fill each reservoir with the saltwater solution until both tanks reach their maximum capacity. If you do not know how much saltwater solution to add, follow the directions provided by the manufacturer.

Step 10: Add Calcium Chloride

Add calcium chloride to the saltwater solution in the reservoirs. CaCl2 reacts chemically with hardness ions like magnesium and calcium to form soluble salts. When dissolved, they become less harmful than hard minerals.

Step 11: Connect the Drain Hose

Use an appropriate hose connector to connect the drain line to the drainage port on the top of the unit. You should avoid overfilling the unit since doing so may result in flooding.

Step 12: Check Grounding

Check grounding connections at the service panel before starting any work.

Step 13: Expel Air

Expel air trapped between the metal housing and plastic shell of the unit. You can remove the access door and blow compressed air around the interior of the unit.

Step 14: Check for Leaks

Make certain that no leak exists in the plumbing lines leading to the unit. Look carefully for cracks in the rubber gaskets used to seal fittings. Also, check the seals around the valves.

Step 15: Test System Operation

Test the operation of the system before leaving the site. Turn on the valves at the source and check whether the output meets your expectations.

If everything works properly, then congratulations! Your new water softener has been successfully installed.

If necessary, repeat steps 9 - 11 until the desired results are achieved.

Step 16: Test System Functionality

Test the functionality of the system by running tap water through it. It should remove most of the limescale buildup without causing excessive backflow.

Step 17: Enjoy The Benefits!

Now that everything is done, you can enjoy the benefits of an effective water softener. Hard water is no longer a problem for appliances like washing machines and dishwashers. You won't have to replace items such as faucets and toilets with a water softener.

How to install a water softener brine tank

Install a water softener brine tank by following these steps:

  • Turn off all utilities before beginning work
  • Cut the existing plumbing
  • Unscrew the mounting bracket
  • Lift the tank
  • Slide the tank
  • Screw the bracket
  • Fill the tank
  • Add salt
  • Start water flow
  • Wait 12 hours
  • Drain the tank
  • Refill
  • Run test
  • Adjust settings
  • Shut off water
  • Let sit overnight
  • Flush
  • Dry
  • Finish

Water softener installation with a well

When installing a water softener on a well, you will need to dig down 30 feet and use the existing well pipe. Install your water softener in the ground and connect it to the pipe. You can then connect it to an outside hose bib or faucet to get water into your house. 

The first step is to check the water hardness level. If it is below 60 ppm, then you don't need a water softener. If it is over 60 PPM, then continue with installing a water softener with a well. Connect the hoses to the well and the house plumbing, then turn on the power supply for your pump.

Wait 30 seconds after turning on your well pump before proceeding with the installation. After that, start installing your softener by following these steps:

  • Attach one end of the pipe to the outlet/inlet valve of the water softener by tightening it with an adjustable wrench or pliers
  • Attach another end of the pipe to the house plumbing system by tightening it with an appropriate tool.
  • Open up the drain valves at both ends of the pipes, so they are not clogged.
  • Insert the tube into the hole dug in the ground. Make sure there is enough space between the bottom of the tube and the top of the soil.
  • Dig another hole next to the previous one. Put the tube inside this new hole.
  • Cover the holes with plastic sheeting.
  • Place sandbags under the tubes to prevent them from pulling back when the earth shifts during heavy rains.
  • Close the drainage valves again.
  • Check if the water flows properly after 24 hours. If yes, then proceed further. Otherwise, contact a professional who can help you fix the problem.

How to Install a Water Softener with Sewer Line

If you have access to an existing sewer line, you can install your water softener in the ground next to it and connect it to the existing pipe. Then, take the connection from your softener and go to your house and connect it to a hose bib or faucet. This method requires less digging than using a well.

However, it may be more expensive because you would have to pay for the cost of connecting the two lines. You should also make sure that the distance between the sewer line and the softener is sufficient.

The length depends on how far away the sewage treatment plant is located. It could be as little as 10 meters. But, if the distance is too short, then the sewage might contaminate your drinking water. So, always consult a professional about the best way to do things.

It is possible for you to determine whether you have access to an underground sewer line by contacting your local utility company. They usually provide information regarding their services online.

Or, you can ask your neighbors if they know where the sewers run. In some cases, people build houses without knowing what kind of service they receive. That means that they must call a contractor to repair any problems that arise later. In case you want to use a well instead of a sewer line, follow these instructions:

  • First, dig a deep hole.
  • Next, place the softener unit in the hole.
  • Fill the hole with gravel.
  • Turn off all electricity supplies connected to the well.
  • Wait for 24 hours.
  • Start filling the hole with dirt. 7) Connect the softener to the household plumbing system.
  • Test the water quality every day for 2 weeks.
  • Once everything works fine, fill the hole with concrete.

Water softener’s advantages

The major advantages of a water softener are improved water quality and the reduction in odors. Using a water softener reduces the level of minerals, particularly calcium, in your water. Also, homeowners can reduce their water usage by using fewer softener cartridges and getting creative with other non-poisonous chemicals.

How to install a water softener bypass valve

The installation of a bypass valve is relatively easy but will require some experience in plumbing. The process entails the following steps:

  1. Remove old water softener system and install a new one
  2. Install the bypass valve
  3. Connect water supply to new water softener system and install a check valve.
  4. Install a new water softener system.
  5. Open the check valve and run the new water supply through the bypass valve to your home.
  6. Close the check valve, connect the hot water line from the house back into the water softening tank and turn on the water softener unit.
  7. Wait for it to cycle through all its cycles before you use any tap water at your sink or shower.
  8. Once done using the water softener, close the check valve again and remove the bypass valve.
  9. Disconnect the cold water pipe from the water softener tank and connect it to the faucet.
  10. Turn off the water softener and drain out the saltwater left inside the tank.
  11. Clean up the area around the tank where the bypass valve used to be located.
  12. Reinstall the bypass valve if necessary.

How to Install a Water Softener With an Electric Water Heater

The installation of a water softener with an electric water heater is fairly simple. You can either replace the existing water softener with a newer model or add another water softener to your current setup. If you are replacing the existing water softener, then follow these instructions:

1) Shut down the power to the entire electrical panel. This includes both the main service switch as well as the sub-panel.

2) Unplug the water softener from the wall outlet. Do not disconnect the wires yet. 3) Cut open the top cover of the water softener box. Be careful when doing this because there may still be live electricity running through the circuit board.

4) Remove the circuit board from the bottom half of the water softener. It should come right out easily.

5) Take note of which wire goes to each side of the circuit board. These wires go directly to the solenoid coils. 

6) Cut the copper tubing at both ends to fit snugly over the ends of the plastic tubing going into the water softener.

7) Put everything back together by plugging the circuit board back into the bottom half of the box. Make sure the wires match up correctly.

8) Plug the water softener back into the wall socket.

9) Test the water softener to make sure it works properly.

How to install a water softener drain

The first step is to get the necessary tools and materials for installation. There is a wrench, pliers, wrench set, nut driver, a ratchet set, flux core solder, piping joint compounds, or Teflon tape.

Secondly, you should collect the needed piping and fittings. This size depends on the plumbing code in your specific area and whether you are installing an under-sink system or an in-line system. This will also depend on whether you want to use copper or PEX tubing. You must make sure that there is enough space available for the pipes to fit into.

Thirdly, you should prepare the ground surface by removing weeds and grasses to prepare the soil for drainage. Then, dig holes large enough for the drains and tanks. Make sure that the holes are deep enough to accommodate the height of the tank.

Fourthly, lay down plastic sheeting to protect the floor from damage during construction. Next, cut the pipe lengths according to the length required. You will need six pieces of 2" x 4" PVC pipe. For example, if you wish to install two 3' sections of pipe, you will need six pieces of 2" x 4" PVC pipe.

Fifthly, assemble all the parts using the appropriate hardware. Use nuts and bolts instead of screws when possible. They are prone to loosening with time due to vibration. Also, ensure that the joints between each section of pipe are tight. If they aren't, this could lead to leaks later on.

Sixthly, connect the supply line to the incoming water line. Connect one end of the supply line to the hot tap while connecting the other to the cold tap. Ensure that both ends of the supply line are connected securely.

Seventhly, attach the drain lines to the sink/tub outlet. Attach the drain line to the hot tap with a compression fitting. Attach the drain hose to the drain valve. Finally, fill the tank with salt water until the level reaches the top of the overflow tube.

How to install a salt-free water softener

A salt-free water softener is a device that offers similar benefits to a regular water softener without the use of salt. It does this by ionizing the water, which helps break down the minerals in hard water, not irritating skin or hair.

Step 1: Find a water softener that is suitable for your home.

Step 2: Remove the old cartridge and locate the inlet and outlet valves.

Step 3: Determine if you want to install a new water heater or not.

Step 4: Connect the inlet and outlet pipes to the water softener using compression nuts

Step 5: Turn on the inlet valve and check if there is any leakage

Step 6: Fill up the tanks with the desired quantity of salt, usually 10 pounds per tank. Optionally, add rust inhibitor

Step 7: Start filling up your house with salt-free water!

How to install a water softener with a loop

Step 1: Identify and shut off the main water valve to the house.

Step 2: Connect the loop hoses with a 3/4-inch female garden hose connector.

Step 3: Connect the hoses to the water softener and a water source, for example, a toilet flush tank.

Step 4: Open your house's main water valve.

Step 5: Flush out any remaining air in line by opening all faucets in your home and letting them run for about 30 seconds each. Close the faucet when finished.

How to install a whirlpool water softener

Procedure for installing a whirlpool water softener:

  • Locate the water pipe that leads to the water softener.
  • Remove any pipes that are connected to the old water softener.
  • Connect the new water softener to your existing pipes or plumbing system.

If you need guidance on installing a whirlpool water softener in your home, you should contact a plumber.

How to install a rheem water softener

Following the instructions given by the manufacturer, remove your old water softener and drain all the water out of the tank.

Next, place your new Rheem water softener in an accessible location.

Follow any other instructions on how to connect it to your home's plumbing system.

Step One: Turn off the water supply.

Step Two: Locate the existing water intake valve.

Step Three: Shut off the water valve.

Step Four: Determine which type of system is being installed and its location.

Step Five: Sketch the location of the main pipes, hot and cold, before removing them.

Step Six: Unplug the existing system. Shut off the valves on both sides and unscrew the nuts on both pipe connectors. Step Seven: Unscrew the nut from the top end of the incoming pipe.

Step Eight: Pull the pipe away from the wall until it clears the floor joists.

Step Nine: Cut the pipe at the bottom where it meets the wall.

Step Ten: Use a wrench to loosen the nut holding the pipe to the wall.

Step Eleven: Slide the pipe back into position against the wall.

Step Twelve: Repeat steps seven through ten for the outgoing pipe.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about installing a water softener

1. What is the cost of installing a water softener?

The installation process for a water softener can range from $500 to $3,000. This includes the cost of the tank, filter, and plumbing material. The size of the water softener you buy will also affect the installation price.

2. Can I install a water softener myself?

Yes, but it is not recommended. You will need a plumber to install a water softener as it is a complicated and time-consuming process.

3. Where to Install Your Water Softener

If you plan to install a water softener, the best place would be near the source of the hard water. This is because hard water can cause scale buildup, clogging up your filter and decreasing your water pressure. 

4. What is the time needed to install water softener?

A water softener typically takes around nine hours to install.

5. Are there any costs involved in installing a whole house water softener?

The cost for installing a whole house water softener can vary depending on whether or not someone else is going to do it for you. On average, installation prices start at around $2,000 - $3,000 with professional help and at around $500 - $1,500 with DIY installation options.

6. How hard is it to install a water softener?

It's easy to install a water softener. There are many different ways to do it, depending on your plumbing system and the type of water softener you want.

How to install a water softener video

Wrap Up!

You should be able to install your water softener within 30 minutes - 2 hours, depending on the model. Installation of water softeners is not difficult, but it's best to get a professional to do it. With proper care, your water softener should last for years and save you money on expensive detergents. If you need more help with your water softener, please give us a call today!


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