Guide to Install Salt-Based and Salt-Free Water Softeners

A water softener is used to remove hardness from your water. While hardness in your water is not harmful to your internal health, it has detrimental effects on your plumbing system and skin. Water hardness levels are measured in milligrams per liter or grams per gallons. The following table mentions the category of water according to the calcium and magnesium levels found in water.

Category Amount in mg/L Amount in grains/Gallon
Soft Water 0 – 17 0-1
Slightly Hard 17.1 – 60 1-3.5
Moderately Hard 61 – 120 3.5-7.0
Hard 121 – 180 7.0-10.5
Very Hard More than 180 10.5 and above

Effects of Hard Water

  • Dry skin and hair
  • Stains and scale buildup on plumbing fixtures increased plumbing repairs.
  • Lack of lather formation from soaps and shampoos
  • Stained laundry
  • Stained and weak crockery
  • Stained washroom fixtures
  • A high water bill (for city water users)

To get rid of the effects mentioned above, you need a water softener. In this article, we will be discussing how you can install a water softener with your water well. Let’s look at the installation guide for different types of water softeners.

How to Install a Water Softener with a Well

Electric Water Softener (Salt-free Water Softeners)

installation of water softener

Salt-free water softeners use electric or magnetic rays to change the behavior of water. They don’t remove hardness causing elements from water but alter the way they interact with different surfaces. Salt-free water softeners are best for small families or appliances such as washing machines, dishwashers, and water heaters.

As far as their installation is concerned, it is very easy. All you have to do is read the user manual and wrap the electric wire around the water pipes. You also have to plug in the device, so make sure you have an electric socket nearby. Otherwise, you will have to use power extensions.

Electric water softeners require minimum maintenance. If their components start to malfunction, you may have to replace the device.

Salt-Based Water Softeners


Salt-based water softeners are whole house water softeners and are being commonly used across the U.S. A salt-based water softener uses a softening salt and resin to remove calcium and magnesium from water in an ion exchange process. The calcium and magnesium are removed and replaced with sodium or potassium. A salt-based water softener needs to regenerate the resin after some time. The time can be adjusted according to water usage and incoming water quality.

Let’s learn about its installation

Time Needed: 6-8 Hours

Plumbing Skill and Knowledge Level: Medium

Tools Needed:

  • Pipe cutter
  • Plumbing wrench
  • Teflon tape
  • Check and bypass valves
  • Tape measure
  • Gate valves
  • Compression fittings (2)
  • Tubing or copper pipe
  • Flexible tubing
  • Union fittings (2)
  • PVC solvent
  • Torch and solder

The list may look exhaustive to you, but if you are buying a water softener from a reputable brand, you will get almost all the things needed for a DIY installation. A couple of things may be missing from it, but all the stuff mentioned above is easily available from a nearby hardware store.

Place Selection

One of the most important things while installing a water softener is the place selection. According to Massachusetts’ Government, the ideal place to install a water softener is after a sediment filter and before other filtration units. In this way, hard water from your well will not impact the working capacity and effectiveness of the next filtration unit. The place you select must have a drainage pipe nearby, and it must be under the shade. Typically a water softener is installed at the same place where other filters are installed.

Steps Needed to Complete the Installation

Once the place has been selected, and the things have been arranged, it is now time to get down to business. The following steps will guide you through the installation process.

  • Turn off the water supply to your home and drain off all the water from the pipes. You can do this by opening the lowest tap in your home.
  • Please turn off the water heater and shut off the water supply going towards it.
  • Now head to the spot where the water softener is to be installed. You must select the installation place according to the guidelines mentioned above.
  • Read all the instructions on the user’s manual.
  • You need to cut the water pipe with a pipe cutter. Place a bucket underneath to catch the water from the pipe.
  • You need to install an elbow joint to the cut pipe. An elbow joint allows you to attach a bypass valve for bypassing the water softener.
  • You need to connect the bypass valve before connecting the water softener. For this, measure the pipe from the machine to the bypass valve. Cut the pipes according to the measurement and solder any rough edges and fittings before making the connections.
  • Connect the water softener with the help of compression fittings.
  • Attach the drainage pipe to the unit. Make sure you follow the local laws while dealing with the discharge mechanism.
  • Next up is connecting the overflow tube to the brine tank. This process is different for every model. We suggest that you check the installation manual for this.
  • Turn the softener on and slowly open the water. Don’t open the water at once. Opening the valves slowly will allow you to release the trapped air and put less pressure on the newly installed softener.
  • Get your water tested after the installation process is complete. The best way to do this is to wait for a week and then test your water.

Final Words

Make sure you check the local laws before installing any treatment units with private wells. They may prohibit self-installation and direct that only licensed well drillers will manage all works related to private drinking water facilities.

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