Water Softener Installation
After reading through reviews and deciding on the product that is right for you, it becomes time to consider the steps that will need to be taken in order to ensure proper water softener installation. The process will vary depending on the type of system that has been purchased. Some models require that a microprocessor be programmed while other products require no more than attaching the product to a segment of pipe. For best results, it is good to consult the user manual included in the packaging.
Water Softener Installation Steps
Before beginning the detailed steps outlined below, it is important to turn off the electricity to your hot water heater. The installation process should be completed before returning power to the heater. In addition, it is important to turn on a few of the hot and cold water faucets to force any air out of the water pipes before returning electricity to the hot water heater. General recommendations are that the softener be operated at 45 – 55 psi so as not to damage the pipes and plumbing.
1) If you are using one of the more effective salt-based systems, it is important to take location and accessibility into account when setting up the product. Tanks should be placed in a dry, level, and non-freezing area of your house. The types of systems that use two tanks should be arranged so that the tanks are close to each other. The largest tank is the one that contains the salt that is used to soften the water and it should be easily accessible so that it can be refilled. The microprocessors and electronics included with these types of products should be protected from the elements at all times so that they do not become damaged.
2) Many softening systems require an electrical current in order to work. In most cases, a 3-prong (120 V) outlet is the type of energy source that the system needs. Most softeners come with a cord that is approximately 10 feet in length and that may be spliced to an additional 40 feet if necessary. Your local electrical and hardware store can help you find the tools you will need in order to make the cord longer.
3) Proper water softener installation requires that a regeneration drain be available. Flexible tubing or PVC can be used to direct backwash to a drain that is located within 20 feet of the tank. Because regeneration creates pressure in the tubing, it is important that the drainage tube be secured. It should be a minimum of 1.5″ in the diameter in order to allow for the proper drainage of fluid. Drain location varies between valve systems. An air gap needs to be created to prevent reverse siphoning.
4) Media may be added to systems that do not have it pre-installed. Resin and gravel may need to be added to the tank in softeners that require media. Products that come with a turbulator distributor do not use gravel as the distribution bed. Detailed instructions for this step should be available in the user manual that came with the product. It is highly recommended that individuals refer to the manual for this step.
5) The next step for proper water softener installation is to install the bypass valve to the head. You should find that there are in and out arrows on the valve. These need to be aligned with the in and out arrows located on the control valve. Your manual should include a detailed description of these valves and their proper orientation on the head.
6) Once the bypass valve is in place, it is time to attach the water connections to the softener. The orientation and the placement of these connections varies between product models and it is important to consult the user manual once again to make sure that the water softener installation process is done correctly.
8) A safety overflow line is typically installed that is not used under normal operation and that should not be connected to the drain line. The overflow line should be placed higher than the drain line and should be run to a drain location.
9) Pour 3 – 4 gallons of water into the brine tank.
10) Program the microprocessor system.
11) Put the softener into use. In most cases, the main water supply should be turned off and the softener should be set in backwash position. You will need to consult your user manual to make sure that you are following the proper water softener installation sequence for this step. The bypass valve can now be placed in the service position and the water supply can slowly be turned on.
12) Check for leaks and tighten loose fittings. If problems are encountered, consult your user manual or contact the softener manufacturer for the detailed troubleshooting instructions. There are no formal water softener installation instructions that can be universally applied to all systems and it is critically important that an owner use a manual that is provided in the product packaging. If all goes well, you should have a functional system that provides many years of soft and clean water.
Water Softener Installation Cost
The price associated with the purchasing and installing of a water softener can vary dramatically based on a variety of different factors including the type of product being used, rates in the area, and labor. In general, it is recommended that homeowners set aside at least $1,500 – $2,000 to cover all the water softener installation cost that might be billed. Although salt-free alternative systems are typically far less expensive than salt-based softeners, they tend to be less effective and are not used as often. Individuals who plan to have a salt-based system installed can expect for the product cost along to be between $800 and $1,200. Additional expenses are associated with labor (usually $60 – $80 per hour), equipment and material delivery, transportation, plumbing work required to connect the softener to the network, filter installation for protecting the softener from debris, inspection costs, taxes, and ongoing support. Since the overall water softener installation cost can vary between regions, it is highly recommended that a certified professional in the region be contacted for quotes.