In many parts of the country, a water softener is a must. However, paying a professional to install your water softener for you may be out of the question financially. Or, maybe you can afford a professional but just like to do such projects yourself. Either way, we're here to teach you where and how to install a water softener. Keep reading!
Before learning how to install a water softener, you have to decide where you want to install a water softener. Most people put their water softener in the garage or basement in close proximity to where the main water line enters your home. When deciding where you want to install your water softener, there are two key things to remember.
If you have a municipal supply, you should place your water softener downstream of the water meter. If you have a well system, it should be installed just past the pressure tank.
Soft Water Loop
If you're buying a new home in an area prone to hard water, your house may already be plumbed with a "soft water loop". This is a copper line that lets you connect the water distribution pipes inside your home to a water softener. This saves you a great deal of time because you won't have to plumb your home to be compatible with a water softener. A soft water loop is a short section of the line that juts out from the wall.
The critical component of a soft water loop is that the hose bibs outside are separated. This keeps you from wasting softened water for outdoor purposes, such as washing your car or watering your lawn. Most often, the soft water loop is found right next to the water heater. It is usually accompanied by a 110-volt outlet and you should also find a drain line stub nearby. Simply remove the loop when you install the water softener.
If temperatures in your region do not drop below freezing, you can install your water softener outside. If your water softener is outside and temperatures drop below freezing, backwash or permanent damage to the system can occur.
Inadequate weather protection is a valid reason for your warranty to be voided. Keep in mind that you should also protect your water softener from direct sunlight as well. Ideally, the temperature will stay somewhere between 35 and 100° F.
Preparing for Installation
The first thing you need to understand when learning how to install a water softener is how to prepare for the installation. First, you'll want to turn off the water to supply to the house. The last thing anyone needs is a major leak and the following fights with the insurance company for flood damage relief.
Next, turn off the electric water heater if you have one. This protects it from potential damage. Finally, open any faucets and other outlets nearby. This drains.
Before we show you how to install a water softener, we'd like to remind you that the exact steps for installing a water softener may vary from system to system. If you have any doubts about a step, check the manufacturer's instructions. Moreover, make sure that your water softener installation is in compliance with your local plumbing codes.
1. Hook Up
Now you're ready to learn how to install a water softener. Identify whether your system requires a brine tank overflow grommet. If so, install this and the elbow into the diameter hole found at the rear of the salt storage tank sidewall. Then put the softener into position. Use a pipe cutter to cut into the primary line. Place a bucket beneath the mainline to catch any water that may leak from the pipe. Sand down the edges.
A lot of water softeners these days come with a bypass valve already built-in. Still, you may need to install the valve. First, use silicone to grease the O-rings. Second, push the bypass valve inside the softener valve as far as you can, snapping the holding clips into position.
If your water softener model does not come with a bypass valve, we strongly advise you to add one to your system. This allows you to shut off the water softener's water supply quickly and easily if you need to perform a quick service or repair without shutting off the water to your entire house.
Moreover, some municipalities require you to install a bypass so your softener can be disconnected in case of emergency without trouble.
Connect the Ports
Now it's time to connect the incoming and outgoing water to your water softener's inlet and outlet port, respectively. These should be clearly marked. Getting the flow direction of the water correct is crucial. If you get this wrong, your water softener will be unable to provide you with any soft water.
Double-check that your work once it's done. If the inlet and outlet ports aren't obviously labeled, your water softener is useless. You may choose either flexible tubing or hard tubing to make the pipe connections. Flexible tubing will require more adapters but it's a lot easier to set up and uninstall.
Moreover, push fittings prevent you from having to solder. Contrastingly, if you want to solder, consider the heat. You don't want to damage any plastic parts. Finally, remember to seal the threads with plumber's tape unless the manufacturer's instructions advise you otherwise.
2. Drain Connection
Remember: salt-based water softeners necessitate a drain connection. You should connect the drain hose to the drain valve fitting of the water softener system. Clamps should be used to keep the hose in place. Then, route the other drain hose end to a drain and secure it. Please note that most of the time you can't push the drain hose into the drain directly.
If you do that, wastewater siphoning can occur. Check your local plumbing codes, but usually, a 1.5" air gap is required. You can achieve this by using an air gap fitting. This is one of those times where you should follow the manufacturer's instructions to the letter.
Another safety measure that keeps the brine tank from overflowing is an overflow connection. Connect an additional hose to the overflow valve and keep it in place with a clamp. The overflow hose should be routed to the drain. Make sure the hose is secure so it doesn't whip around. Remember that you may need an air gap.
Install Brine Line
Installing the brine line is a step that only applies to side-by-side water softeners. This line lets the side-by-side system to remove the brine from the brine tank and transfer it into the resin tank. With a cabinet-style softener, there is no need to install a brine line.
Now you're ready to wrap up. First, put the brine well in the brine tank. Then, fill this tank with salt. Some systems may require you to add water, as well. The manufacturer's guide will tell you the proper type of salt and how much to add. Most water softeners work best when you fill the tank two-thirds of the way. Before you pour the salt in, we recommend taping over the brine well to prevent any from falling into the well.
Some systems require you to sanitize the system completely before use. Read your manufacturer's guide to see if this is a necessary step for your particular water softener system. Keep in mind that a sudden water pressure increase can cause damage to your plumbing system. Before you turn the water supply back on, open up a nearby cold water faucet. Then, wait a few minutes to give any air time to flush out of the system.
Open the Bypass Valve
Open the bypass valve very slowly to allow your resin tank to fill with water. Keep in mind, air will run down the drain line. You can open the valve fully once you stop hearing the noise of rushing air. At this point, you can also turn on your electric water heater again.
4. Final Steps
Check every connector, fitting and valve to make sure there are no leaks. Then, plug in your new water softener. Start a complete regeneration cycle. Finally, configure your water softener system following the manufacturer's instructions. You will be instructed to set the time of day, the water hardness levels tested and how regularly you want your water softener to regenerate, among other system options.
Learning how to install a water softener is easy. The hardest part is making sure the installation is up to your local municipality's code. If temperatures in your area reach below freezing, it is strongly advisable that you install your water softener inside your home. However, the temperature outdoors usually stays between 35 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit, you can install your water softener outdoors. Just remember to keep it out of direct sunlight and keep it protected from the elements.
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