5 Star Plumbing | The Step-by-Step Process of Water Softener Installation
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The Step-by-Step Process of Water Softener Installation

5 Star Plumbing > Blog > The Step-by-Step Process of Water Softener Installation

Hard water crammed with minerals wreaks havoc in homes, marring fixtures with scale buildup, reducing soap/detergent efficiency, and more. Thankfully, whole house water softeners banish the hardness for better functioning appliances, easier cleaning, and water savings. This guide covers choosing the ideal location, tools required, steps to install various types of water softeners, bypass valve settings, troubleshooting advice and proper maintenance.

Pre-Installation Steps & Location Selection

Pre-Installation Steps & Location Selection

Choosing the optimal installation location tops the pre-planning list for DIYers and professional water softener installers alike. Consider these key factors:

Flow Direction & Plumbing Connections

Survey existing household plumbing to orient which direction water enters and exits to align with water softener inlet/outlet ports and connect water lines appropriately later. Most models position inlets and outlets on the bypass valve mounted on the mineral tank.

Proximity to Water Supply Lines & Municipal Water Supply

Set the softener unit near the main water supply lines to limit the distance purified water must travel from the softener to supply household plumbing fixtures. This retains beneficial pressure and flow.

Closeness to Working Drain

A suitable floor or wall drain with capacity to discharge backwash water resides within reach via the included drain hose. Without an accessible, working drain, installation stalls.

Access to Electrical Outlet

While some salt-based softeners rely on manual regeneration valves, many utilize electronic meters and controls requiring an nearby, dedicated 120V electrical outlet to power the system.

Covered, Ventilated Area

Avoid temperature extremes. Outdoor installation requires weatherproof cabinetry for security and to maintain resin bed functionality. Indoors, avoid installing directly next to water heaters or furnaces which could distort readings.

With location planned, attention shifts to assembly. Prepare by gathering all necessary materials and tools.

Pre-Installation Steps & Location Selection

Essential Installation Equipment & Components

Customizing water lines to integrate the softener, securing the mineral tank, connecting control valves and configuring settings requires an assortment of key gear:

Plumbing Supplies & Tools

  • Bypass valve with inlet/outlet connections
  • Pipe wrench & adjustable wrench
  • Tubing cutter
  • Copper fittings & compression fittings
  • Flexible tubing, hose clamps & plastic tubing
  • Pipe cutter, utility knife & emery cloth

Softener Components

  • Mineral tank
  • Brine tank
  • Resin tank filled with resin beads to capture hardness minerals
  • Overow tubing
  • Drain hose/drain tubing

Misc Install Items

  • Transformer or power cable
  • Mounting bracket & hardware
  • Nuts, bolts, screws
  • Sandpaper, sealant, cleaner

Essential Installation Equipment & Components

Step-By-Step Installation Guide

Once the prep work finishes, the installation flows through these key phases:

Shut Off Water Supply, Release Pressure

Secure mounting bracketry then halt home water supply at the main valve. Open downstream taps to depressurize lines.

Disconnect Existing Water Treatment Equipment

Dismantle incumbent water filters, softeners etc. but leave supply lines intact for new connections. Cap unused inlet ports.

Position & Level Mineral Tank

Situate the mineral tank, aligning valve bodies to planned pipe runs. Level vertically & horizontally. Mark bracket holes.

Mount Control Head Assembly

Attach the control head to the mineral tank per specifications, ensuring proper seal.

Connect Inlet & Outlet Piping

Modify existing plumbing by cutting supply lines. Insert flow meters, fittings and adapters to link pipes to the bypass valve ports, bypassing old equipment. Adhere to codes.

Install Drain Line

Run tubing from the drain outlet on control head to floor drain or other discharge point, securing hose along its path.

Link Brine Tank
Join brine tank to control head via overflow tubing. Fill with salt.

Connect Transformers

Allow proper airflow for transformers and plug power cables into outlets reserved exclusively for the softener.

Configure Settings & Values

Key in time of day, water hardness as GPG or grains per gallon based on municipal water supply reports, desired efficiency percentage and other customizations per user manual.

Power Up Softener, Test Functionality

Return household water on, verify softener activates, inspect for leaks throughout system. Manually initiate regeneration to confirm functioning valve and smooth backwashing.

Step-By-Step Installation Guide

Programming & Adjusting Settings

Optimizing softener programming bolsters performance. Tweak these key parameters:

  • Regeneration Cycle Frequency. Balance efficiency goals against salt and water waste. Regenerating more frequently saves salts but reduces water loss.
  • Water Hardness Value. Input precise GPG decimals reflecting lab analysis of tap water mineral content, not regional approximations which vary street to street.
  • Salt Dosage. Consult resin specifications to tailor salt added per regeneration to prevent over- or under-salting.
  • System Override. Temporary maximum hardness bypass allows heavily consuming water uses like sprinklers without triggering frequent recharging.

Troubleshooting Problems

Newly installed softeners commonly hiccup. Review these issues and fixes:

  • Cloudy Water: Re-sanitization Run several manual recharges. If cloudiness persists, sanitize the resin bed by pouring household bleach into the brine well according to instructions.
  • Salt Bridge: Careful Probing Salt solidifies above resin bed. Slowly push a wooden broom handle into the brine tank to break up the hardened “bridge” without damaging resin below.
  • Flowing Drain: Tighten Connections Check/adjust hose barb connections, inspecting for cracks draining backwash water prematurely. Ensure the drain hose loop rises above the control head to prevent siphoning.

Programming & Adjusting Settings

Routine Maintenance & Upkeep

Ongoing softener care sustains efficiency:

1. Replenish Salt
Maintain salt levels above resin bed to fuel recharging. Use varieties formulated specifically for softeners.

2. Inspect Brine Tank
Periodically check the brine tank for accumulated dirt and indications of salt bridge development.

3. Test Water
Use test strips to validate softened water quality. Hardness readings help set parameters.

4. Sanitize System
Disinfect resin tank periodically by carefully pouring household bleach into the brine well after an initial manual recharge to purge contaminants.

5. Defer Servicing to Professionals

Certified technicians perform extensive troubleshooting, repairs beyond DIY-scope and annual maintenance.

Routine Maintenance & Upkeep

Why Is It Advisable to Opt For the Professional Installation of Water Softener?

Opting for professional assistance for the installation of a water softener is advisable for several reasons:

  1. Understanding Key Steps and Plumbing Requirements: Professional plumbers are well-versed in the key steps required for a successful installation. This includes understanding complex plumbing requirements, such as where and how to integrate the water softener into your existing plumbing system.

  2. Proper Connection to Water Pipes and Drain Tubes: A professional installer ensures that the water softener is correctly connected to your home’s water pipe system and drain tubes. Incorrect installation can lead to leaks or water damage, which can be costly to repair.

  3. Ensuring Compliance with Plumbing Codes: Professional plumbers are knowledgeable about local plumbing codes and regulations. This expertise is crucial to ensure that your water softener installation meets all legal requirements, avoiding potential fines or issues if you sell your home in the future.

  4. Handling Varying Water Pressure and Plumbing Fittings: Professionals can accurately assess your home’s incoming water pressure and choose the right plumbing fittings. This ensures that your water softener operates effectively and doesn’t cause any damage to your plumbing system due to pressure issues.

  5. Dealing with Electrical Components: If you have an electric water heater, it’s important to ensure that the water softener installation doesn’t interfere with its operation. Professionals can navigate these complexities safely and efficiently.

  6. Optimizing for Indoor Installation and Avoiding Direct Sunlight: Professionals can advise on the best location for your water softener, considering factors like avoiding direct sunlight, which can harm the unit. They can also ensure that the chosen location meets all requirements for a suitable drain.

  7. Guaranteeing Optimal Performance: Professional installers can calibrate your water softener for optimal performance based on your specific water issues and usage patterns. This ensures that you receive the maximum benefit from your investment in terms of clean water quality.

  8. Minimizing the Risk of DIY Installation Mistakes: While DIY installation might seem cost-effective, it comes with the risk of mistakes due to inadequate plumbing skills, which can lead to ineffective operation or even severe water damage.

In conclusion, professional assistance in the installation of a water softener not only ensures that the system functions correctly and complies with all regulations but also helps in preventing potential problems that could arise from incorrect installation. This ultimately safeguards your home from water issues and ensures that you have access to clean, softened water.

Why Is It Advisable to Opt For the Professional Installation of Water Softener?

FAQs: Your Pressing Water Softening Questions, Answered

Q: I have copper water supply pipes. Do I need special connectors to link my new water softener unit?

A: Yes – the salt in the brine solution used during softener regeneration can corrode copper pipes and joints. Use plastic tubing with compression fittings to connect the inlet and outlet ports on your bypass valve instead with copper water lines.

Q: Why does my water softener keep using more salt but my taps seem just as hard?

A: Excess salt usage coupled with unchanged water hardness likely indicates an issue called “bridging”. Hardened salt forms a bridge above the softening resin bed, starving it of brine solution for recharging. Carefully poke the salt crust with a broomstick to break it up and improve flow.

Q: Now that I have a water softener installed, do I still need to descale my showerheads and faucets?

A: Yes, depending on when hard water scale accumulated prior to installing the water softener. Run citric acid descaling solutions through fixtures to dissolve mineral buildup from past hard water exposure. Maintain descaling every 6-12 months. Going forward, soft water will prevent future scale deposits.


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