Installing a water softener at your home is the best thing you can do to improve your water quality. Hard water can cause a number of problems in your home, including clogging pipes and appliances and making it difficult to get clean dishes and clothing.
A water softener will remove the minerals that cause these problems and make your life a lot easier. Now that you’ve heard that you should install a water softener to improve your water quality, do you know how to do so? Well, installing a water softener can seem like a daunting task, but it’s really not that hard.
Not only installing a water softener will make your life easier, but it will also save you money on energy costs and extend the life of your appliances. Here is a step-by-step process on how to plumb a water softener at your home:
Tools and Materials
- Adjustable wrench
- Channel-lock pliers
- Propane torch
- Water softener with bypass valve
- Plumbing pipe fittings
- Flexible supply tubes
- Solder and flux
- Pipe clamps
- Air gap fitting
- 1/2-inch diameter flexible drain tubing
Step by Step Instructions
Shut Off the Water Supply and Turn Off the Power to the Hot Water Heater
Before you do anything, make sure to shut off the water supply to your home. The main shut-off valve is usually located near the water meter or where the main water supply line enters your home. Once the water is shut off, turn off the power to your hot water heater. This will prevent any accidental burns while you’re soldering pipes.
This is very important, especially if you have an electric water heater, protecting it from potential damage. After shutting off your water supply and turning off your electric water heater, open the nearby faucets and other outlets and drain away all the remaining water. This will save you some real money in case anything goes wrong during the setup. Before you proceed to the next step, make sure you know how to install a water softener shower head because you could end up damaging your plumbing system if you don’t have the knowledge.
Install a Bypass Valve
Most water softeners come with a bypass valve that makes it easy to disconnect the system when necessary. The bypass valve will have an inlet and an outlet, and two ports for the brine line and discharge line. If your water softener didn’t come with a bypass valve, you could easily install one.
This bypass valve will allow you to easily shut off the water supply to the softener for servicing or preparation without cutting off your entire house. In some areas, you’re required by the law to install a bypass valve so that your water softener can easily be disconnected in case of an emergency.
Tie Into the Water Supply
A water softener can be hand piped into the water supply system, or you can tie it using flexible supply tubes, similar to how water heaters are connected. Once you know how to add handheld to the existing shower head, then you’re good to go. Flexible supply tubes are the best solution because they make it easy to remove or bypass the system in the future.
To connect the water heater using flexible supply tubes, shut off the water to your home and drain the pipes. Cut off a section of the water supply line and install adapters to accept the flex tube fittings. The type of adapters you choose will depend on what type of water supply pipes you’re using in your home.
Connect the flex lines to the water supply pipes, then into the back of the water softener unit as directed by the manufacturer. Ensure the supply side pipe is connected to the inlet port on the water softener and the house side pipe to the outlet port. Tighten the fittings using an adjustable wrench or channel lock pliers.
Connect Tubing Between Tanks
If your water softener is a 2-tank system, connect the tubing between the tanks according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Connect the brine tank and the mineral tank with the tubing included with the water softener. With most water softeners, the tubes are secured with hose clamps.
Most water softeners require two drain tubes. One of the drain tubes connects to the control valve and is used to avoid the backwash water during the regeneration cycle. The other drain tube connects to the brine tank and serves as an overflow drain.
If you have a salt based water softener, note that it requires a drain connection. Therefore, connect the drain hose to the softener’s drain valve fitting. Use clamps to hold the hose in place. Then route the other end of the drain hose to a drain and secure it.
In most communities, it’s illegal to connect the water softener drain directly to the home drain system without an air gap. Similar to the requirements for dishwashers, the drain line needs an air gap fitting designed to prevent the back-siphoning of contaminated drain water into the water softener.
There are special air gap fittings that allow you to connect the water softener’s drain tube directly to a drainpipe or standpipe. To connect the drain tubes, check your local plumbing codes as they require you to attach a length of 1/2 inch flexible tubing to the drain elbows on both the control valve and the brine tank. Attach them to air gap fitting using if you’re using one, and anchor them securely to a utility sink or floor drain.
Start the System and Check for Leaks
After everything is hooked up, it’s time to start the system and check for leaks. To do this, first, add water to the brine tank by pouring it in through the hole in the cover until the salt is covered. Next, plug in the power cord (if your unit is electric) and turn on the water at the main shut-off valve.
Once the water starts flowing, open all of the faucets in your house to get rid of any air in the lines and to help fill the brine tank with water. Begin by opening the cold water tap somewhere in your house to allow air to escape as you refill the pipes. You may hear some gurgling noises as the air is being purged from the system.
The final step is to add potassium chloride and start the system. Read the manufacturer’s recommendations about the type and quantity of salt or potassium chloride.
Run a Backwash Cycle
Make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions for running a regeneration cycle on the water softener. This process purges air from the system and loosens the plastic resin beads in the mineral tank to ensure that they can absorb more hardness minerals.
Check for leaks during the backwash and when it’s complete, check the water level in the brine tank and make whatever adjustments necessary to keep the level at the recommended mark.
FAQs on How to Hook Up a Water Softener
How do you install a water softener?
Once you’ve purchased the best water softening shower head, There are a few different ways that you can install it, depending on the specific unit. Typically, you will need to connect the unit to the home’s water supply and then to a drainage system. You may also need to install a bypass valve.
How to add a water softener to the tankless water heater?
Installing a water softener is not recommended for tankless water heaters. This is because the softened water will have a higher sodium content, which can build up and damage the unit over time. If you do decide to install a water softener, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.
How to connect a water softener?
- Locate the cold water line coming into your home. This is typically located in the basement or crawl space.
- Cut into the cold water line using a pipe cutter.
- Solder a tee fitting onto the cut pipe.
- Run a length of plastic tubing from the tee fitting to the inlet of the water softener.
- Connect the other end of the plastic tubing to the outlet of the water softener.
- Solder a tee fitting onto the outlet pipe of the water softener.
- Run a length of plastic tubing from the tee fitting to the cold water inlet on your water heater
- Connect the other end of the tubing to the cold water inlet on your water heater.
- Turn on the water and check for leaks.
Final Thought on How to Plumb a Water Softener at Home
It’s important to have a water softener that’s properly sized for your home and family. Contact a licensed plumber or water treatment professional if you have any questions about how to hook up a water softener or which type of system is right for you. They will be able to help you select the right system and ensure it’s installed properly.