How to Install a Water Softener -Everything You Need to Know

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A newly installed Water Softener

Want to save money and install a home water softening system? Learning how to install a water softener is easier than you think. With the right tools and information, you can enjoy a home water softening system today.

Affordability is on everyone's mind these days, with the economy in a state of flux. However, you can offset those concerns while adding value to your home with our detailed do-it-yourself guides.

Whether you are considering learning how to install a water softener to save time or money, we are glad you are here. And we are delighted to help.

What Is Water Hardness?

Your water can contain more than H2O. The level of calcium and magnesium compounds in your water determines its hardness. Municipalities and other government entities set the standards for water hardness.


For example, the U.S. Geological Survey published the following water hardness classification standards:

  • 0 to 60 mg/L (milligrams per liter) as calcium carbonate is classified as soft;
  • 61 to 120 mg/L as moderately hard;
  • 121 to 180 mg/L as hard;
  • Greater than 180 mg/L as very hard.

What Is a Water Softener?

water softener is a filtering device used to remove calcium and magnesium compounds using a process called ion exchange. Water softeners typically consist of a tank connected directly to your home's water supply.


The water flows through ion-exchange resins located in that tank along with salt. Then, the water softener removes the magnesium and calcium ions in the hard water by swapping them with sodium or potassium ions.


Additionally, the system undergoes a regeneration process to flush out excess ions and recharge itself with new sodium ions.

Do I Need to Soften My Water?

There are a few tell-tale signs you need to soften your water. For example, scaly mineral deposits located inside or around water faucets and showerheads indicates the presence of hard water. Likewise, residue on shower curtains and dishes are a symptom of hard water.


Additionally, hard water use can result in dry, itchy skin, and dull lifeless hair. Similarly, dull and itchy laundry also indicates the hard water. However, there is some good news: learning how to install a water softener is simple and saves money versus professional installation.

Determining your water's hardness

​Advantages of water softening

​Disadvantages of water softening

Types of Water Softeners

Three main types of water softeners are available on the market these days. Those water softener types include salt, potassium chloride, and magnetic systems.


Additionally, dual-tank systems are installed in large homes and multi-family dwellings. Typically one tank is used while the other one gets cleaned. Learning how to install a water softener with dual tanks is no different than installing systems with one tank.

1. Salt (sodium chloride)

Whirlpool WHES30E 30,000 Grain Softener | Salt & Water Saving...
  • Whirlpool WHES30E is ideal for households of 1-4+ people and removes up to 8ppm of clear water (ferrous) iron
  • NSF certified to reduce hard water symptoms such as embarrassing stains, build-up on your plumbing and faucets as...
  • Whirlpool water softeners automatically calculate how much salt and water is required to regenerate and only use...

Salt-based water softener systems use an electronic valve mounted on top of a resin tank. That valve sends water through ion-exchange resins located in the tank. Then, hardness producing minerals like calcium and magnesium are replaced by sodium chloride ions, resulting in soft water.


However, if you use a salt-based water softener, you will need to replenish your salt supply from time to time.

2. Potassium Chloride

Morton Salt Morton F124700000g Clean & Protect/Rust Defense Water...
  • Size: 40 lbs.
  • Helps improve the taste of water
  • Helps prevent rust stains in your bathroom and kitchen

Potassium chloride-based water softeners operate the same as salt-based systems and use the same equipment. The only real difference is that you use potassium chloride instead of sodium chloride if you opt for this system.


Then what difference does it make? First, you avoid ingesting water laden with sodium regularly. And this is a plus for some consumers. However, on the negative side, it can take up to three times as much potassium chloride to regenerate your system than sodium chloride.

3. Magnetic

iSpring ED2000 Whole House Electronic Descaler Water Conditioner,...
  • Solves hard water problems without the need for chemicals, salt, or maintenance, while keeping healthy minerals in...
  • Descales your entire water system and prevents scale buildup in pipes. Reduces energy consumption with an average...
  • Great for your home and the environment, individuals on salt-restricted diets, and those looking for healthier skin...

Magnetic water softeners operate using the same principle as salt and potassium softener systems. This system uses negatively charged ions to attract positive-charges minerals like calcium and magnesium.


However, you're probably wondering: "Sounds great, but how exactly do magnetic water softeners work?"


Simple, they use powerful magnets or electromagnetic devices wrapped around your existing pipes to create a magnetic field. Then, as hard water passes by, this magnetic field alters hard mineral ions, resulting in soft water.


However, on the negative side, water returns to a hard stage if not used within 48 hours after leaving that magnetic field. Additionally, scientific studies show mixed results regarding the effectiveness of these systems.


Lastly, the magnets used in magnetic water softeners are powerful and can cause problems if not handled with caution. For example, credit cards, mechanical and digital watches, and mobile phones can be damaged by magnets.


Additionally, computers, CDs, DVDs, and other electrical and electronic devices can be damaged by magnetic water softeners.

Important Medical Information

Before we show you how to install a water softener, we need to discuss a couple of critical medical issues.

​Pacemakers and magnetic water softeners

​High blood pressure and sodium and potassium chloride water softeners

Professional vs. Do-It-Yourself Water Softener Installation

A do-it-yourself installation is an excellent option if you are comfortable working with plumbing and deciphering instructions. For example, learning how to install a water softener is easy and saves money. Additionally, installation can begin as soon as you receive your new water softener.


At the same time, using professional installation service has its potential advantages too.

​Using a retailer

​Hiring a plumber

How to Install a Sodium or Potassium Chloride Water Softener

Taking the time to learn how to install a water softener allows you to schedule the project at your convenience. Additionally, it saves you money.


However, there is one important step that is necessary before you begin installing your water softener system. You need to decide where to install the unit.


For example, you want to install the water softener close to the location where the water enters your home. Additionally, never install a water softener downstream from a water heater. First of all, hot water can damage your water softener. Second, your water heater will work more efficiently using soft water, saving you energy costs.

​What you need

​How you install it

Installing a Magnetic Water Softener

Learning how to install a water softener is basic if you opt for using a magnetic water softener. Most systems include either zip ties or wingnuts for simple installation. For that reason, tools are typically not required for the installation of most magnetic water softeners.

​What you need

​How you install it

What We Learned Today

Wow! We covered a lot of information today regarding water softeners. First, we covered the basics regarding hard water versus soft water.


Then, we covered the pros and cons of using water softeners and the different types of water softeners. And, we discussed how to install a water softener.


However, most importantly, we covered a few medical concerns regarding the use of water softeners for people with pacemakers, hypertension, high blood pressure, and other coronary diseases.


Now we would love to hear from you. Do you have a water softener at home? What are the benefits? Are there any negatives? How hard was it to learn how to install a water softener?


At your convenience, share your answers using the comments section below. And feel free to include any tips and tricks you know regarding installing and using water softener systems.

Featured Image via flickr

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