What to Know When Hooking Up Water Softeners

Do you have stained sinks, faucet and pipe buildups, reduced cleaning power of your detergents, or shortened water heater life? If any of these sound familiar, then there is a good possibility that you have hard water flowing through your plumbing system. The good news is that there are water softening solutions that can help you overcome these bothersome conditions. The better news is that you can hook these softeners yourself. Here are some tips how.

Tools and Materials

Honestly, hooking up water softeners can be a bit confusing, but if you know what connections should be made, you should have no problem doing it. The important thing to understand is that if you think you cannot do it, leave the job to the professionals.

Hook ups can be done within a day and usually involves moderate complexity. The whole job can cost you roughly around $20. You should have the following tools and materials ready before starting the job:

  • Plumbers tape;
  • Tape measure;
  • Soldering torch;
  • Slip joint pliers;
  • Tube cutter;
  • Copper pipe and tees;
  • Valves;
  • Flux;
  • Solder; and
  • Fitting brush.

Where to Install

One of the important things to establish before installing water softeners on your own is to know where it should go. If you are replacing an old one, chances are, the easiest thing to do is to have it installed in the same place. However, if you are putting in a new one, you have to give the location a very good thought.

Make sure that the location you choose is out of the way, but within easy access of your home plumbing system. This is why the utility room, garage, or basement are always good places to consider. Never consider an area of your home where freezing might happen because this will result in permanent damage to the water softening unit. This means areas that have temperatures lower than 40 degrees should be out of the question. Direct sunlight is likewise out of the question, so the outdoors are off limits.

Another important consideration is to have enough room around the unit to make servicing easier, just in case.

Required Hookups

To ensure that the unit works properly, it has to be hooked up to a drain (either a utility sink or floor drain) and have access to an electric outlet capable of handling the unit’s required amperage.

It is common practice to have pipes branch off to a cold water line so that outdoor hoses can be supplied via this connection. You can also run pipes going to the kitchen sink or the refrigerator icemaker. Gardens and lawns do not have to be supplied with softened water so there is no need to provision a connection for them.

The rest of the supply lines of your home plumbing should continue to the water softener. Water leaving the unit branch out to a cold line (for faucets and inside fixtures) and another going to the water heating system. The outlet from the water heater will provide softened hot water for all the fixtures inside your home. It is a good idea to have a bypass loop and valve as a safety precaution.

The water softener should go before your water heater if you want to soften the water supply to your entire home. This configuration will reduce the possibility of sediment buildup in your water heating unit. You will therefore solve your problem with hard water supply and extend the life of your water heating system at the same time.

If you decide to soften only your hot water supply then your entire cold water supply will not benefit from the installation of your water softening system. Never place your water softener after your water heating system because the relatively high temperatures will damage the water softening unit.

Scott English Plumbing has extensive experience in installing and servicing water softeners and filters so give them a call the minute you think a problem is at hand.