How To Install A Water Softener

Having hard water running through your pipes and scaling up your appliances can cost you money in excessive electricity costs, repairs and increased cleaning costs.

How To Install A Water Softener

To improve the quality of your water and reduce your expenses, consider installing a water softener.

We will guide you through the questions you may have about why you need a water softener, how it works, and where to install one in your home.

Why Install A Water Softener?

Although hard water is not harmful to your health, it is nevertheless a costly problem to have in your home. Heating elements in your boiler and kettle as well as the interior of your water pipes get scaled up from the calcium and magnesium found in hard water.

Heating elements that are coated in limescale cannot function effectively or efficiently.

As they have to work harder to heat your water, this costs you more money in electricity and will eventually cause the heating element to fail. This means a cost to you in replacement.

A water softener will remove the problem-causing minerals in your water. This means that the water going through your boiler and kettle will no longer be hard, but soft. In turn, this reduces the amount of deposit on your heating elements.

As well as coating your heating systems with limescale, hard water also leaves stains and mineral deposits on other parts of your home. Sinks, taps, bathtubs, showers and work surfaces can all be affected by this. With a water softener, this will not be an issue.

Washing yourself and your clothes in hard water uses more soap and detergent, as it is more difficult to form a lather than with soft water.

Having a water softener can save you money on buying laundry detergent as well as shampoo, shower gel and soap.

Testing For Hard Water

A test for hard water measures the amount of dissolved minerals in your water. The measurements can be in grain per gallon (gpg)  or parts per million (ppm).

Parts per million means that one unit of hard water is present in a million units of water. Grains per gallon corresponds to one grain of wheat. One grain per gallon is equal to 17.1 parts per million.

Less than 1 gpg is considered soft water, 1-3.5 gpg is slightly hard, 3.5-7 gpg is moderately hard, 7-10.5 is hard and above 10.5 gpg is very hard.

You can send a sample of water to a laboratory to be tested, but this will be quite expensive.

Most people are happy to use home testing kits to determine the hardness of their water. Test strips are dipped into a sample of water and the resulting color is compared to a chart. Digital testing kits are also widely available.

How Does It Work?

So, once you have determined that you have hard water in your home, you want to install a water softener. But how does a water softener work?

There are two types of water softener, a salt based softener and a salt free water softener. A salt based softener uses ion exchange to swap calcium and magnesium for sodium and potassium.

The positively charged molecules of magnesium and calcium are attracted to the negatively charged resin beds in the water softener. These minerals are then flushed out of the system.

A salt free softener uses a system called Template Assisted Crystallization (TAC). This process causes the minerals in your hard water to crystallize, which makes it impossible for them to stick to heating elements, pipe interiors or surfaces.

Salt free softeners are not technically softeners, as they don’t actually change the molecular structure of the water. Instead, they condition it to form crystals. This prevents the minerals from adhering to surfaces.

The Best Place To Install Your Water Softener

The best location for your new water softener is next to the entry point of the water into your home. This is typically at ground level near the water meter if you live in the city, or next to the pressure meter if you live in the country and are using well water.

Check that there is enough space for all the equipment to fit in the space, allowing access for maintenance or repair. You need to ensure there is a power source nearby as well as a drain point.

However, everyone’s home is different and as long as there is access to the plumbing, a drain source and a power outlet then the water softener can go anywhere. They do not typically take up a lot of space.

Installing A Water Softener

It is always advisable to hire a professional plumbing company to install any major plumbing component in your home. This way you know the job will be done properly, and it saves you time and effort.

However, if you are competent at DIY, there is no reason why you cannot install a water softener yourself. There are just a few things to keep in mind.

  • Pick the best location for the softener
  • Turn off the main water supply. Any electric water heaters should also be switched off
  • Turn on all faucets to completely drain the system
  • Install a bypass valve 
  • Connect the inlet and outlet pipe connections
  • For salt based softeners, a drainage connection is needed
  • Put salt in the brine tank
  • Turn the main water supply back on and slowly open the bypass valve to fill the softener. Don’t forget to turn any electric water heaters back on
  • Plug the water softener in and allow it to run through a cycle
  • You can then configure your softener according to the manufacturer’s instructions

By installing a water softener in your home, you can prevent the damage that comes from living in a hard water area.

Your water will taste better, and your appliances will last longer. Unsightly limescale and mineral deposits will be a thing of the past, meaning you spend less time cleaning, too.

Mandy Anderson