installation of a water softener is not trivial and requires a basic
understanding of home plumbing. We are not going to provide a
step-by-step installation guide here, as the specific steps will vary
depending on your specific plumbing and water softener. However, we
will overview the basic approach and emphasize some key considerations.
honestly, the first step of installation is to figure out whether you
want to take the do-it-yourself (DIY) approach or hire a professional
to do the work. If you have any reservations or discomfort about doing
it yourself, or lack experience, you should absolutely retain the
services of a qualified professional, such as a water softener company
serviceperson or a local plumbing contractor.
you do decide to go the DIY route, you will first have to identify the
best placement for the water softener unit. The general recommendation
is a protected, dry, level, accessible, shaded, and
location that is no more than five feet from the main water supply
pipe, no more than ten feet from a drainage area, and no more than
fifty feet from a power outlet.
Before installation can begin,
you should turn off the water main and drain the water lines through
the faucets. Once the water is off and the pipes are drained, you can
then install the bypass valve to the control head and attach the inlet
water lines to the water softener. Your unit should come standard with
all the necessary hardware, including washers and nuts, to
complete this process. It should also come with a plastic brine tube
used to connect the mineral tank and the brine tank.
have to connect a drainage tube (either PVC or flexible plastic should
work) to the appropriate drain connection on your water softener and
run it to the nearest drain. Make sure there is an air gap between the
drainage tube and the drain to prevent reverse siphoning of the drained
water. This drainage will be utilized during the water softener's
backwash cycle to expel debris from the mineral tank in the course of
the regeneration process.
The final step will be to
plug the water softener into a power source. For this, you can
either use the water softener's own power cord, or an extension cord
that is long enough to reach to the nearest standard 3-pring grounded
outlet. As mentioned, the general recommendation is that the water
softener be no farther than 50 feet from the outlet.
Once all of
the pipes, valves, tube and connections are in place, you can then fill
the brine tank with salt and program the unit
operation, as per the product instructions. With that complete, and all
the connections double checked, water can be turned back on. But be
careful and take your time in making sure that everything
is working as intended.
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purchase price is the most substantial expense, the costs associated
with operating a water softener involve more than just the initial
outlay for the unit. There are several kinds of additional expenses,
although precise amounts will vary depending on the model of water
softener and the extent of water usage in the household.
residential water softener can cost anywhere between $300 and $3,500,
depending on the brand, size, model, and feature set. You will
typically be able to find an excellent product in the $1,000 to $3,000
range from any of the companies on our list of top brand
manufacturers. If you have a larger household with greater
consumption, you will need a water softener with a higher capacity and
this will correspondingly push you into a higher price range.
second largest one-time expense for a water softener is usually its
installation. If you use the services of a qualified professional,
installation should run between $100 and $1,000, depending on the
complexity of the system and the extent to which your home plumbing and
drainage setup needs to be updated or modified. Installing the unit
yourself can definitely save you this expense, but unless you know what
you are doing you may end up with more costs than you save.
addition to purchase and installation, most water softeners use a brine
tank which has to be refilled with new salt every month or so. The
actual frequency and amount of the refills will vary depending on
product model, salt type, and water usage, but a typical expense on
salt and additional water comes out to somewhere in the range of $150
to $300 per year.
Assuming the water softener continues to
work as intended, there should be no other upkeep or maintenance needs
beyond refilling the brine tank on a timely basis. However, over time,
parts can wear out, pipes can corrode, and lines can become damaged.
Common problems for water softeners include issues with the brine line,
the injector, and the filter screen. The good news is that these are
fairly inexpensive to replace. Other times, the issue can be
solved simply by flushing the brine line. However, if the water
softener is old and no longer working properly, it may make more sense
to buy a new unit rather than try to fix the old one.
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are several options available once you make the decision to go ahead
and buy a water softener for your home. We will review the drawbacks
and benefits of each of these options in turn, but regardless of the
opinions expressed here, you should still comparison shop
every available alternative. That is the only way to really maximize
your chances of finding a good deal.
number of major retailers that specialize in home improvement or that
have extensive home improvement departments offer water
products. This list includes Sears, Home Depot, Lowe's, Wal-mart and
Costco. The main benefit of buying a water softener at a retail store
is that you can visually inspect the product prior to purchase.
However, there are a number of drawbacks, including limited selection
and a lack of in-depth expertise on the part of the sales staff.
way to purchase a water softener is through an independent shop that
specializes in water treatment systems. These are local shops with a
more narrow specialization and, oftentimes, better technical knowledge.
However, some of these local dealers only carry a few brand options and
may provide advice that is biased in favor of the brands they carry. To
manage this risk, try to visit with several local dealers in order to
compare products and price levels.
Yet another alternative
for buying a water softener is to go to an authorized distributor for a
particular manufacturer. These distributors usually only carry water
softeners from the one brand. This is both a benefit and a drawback.
The benefit is that the distributor will know a great deal about the
specific products offered by that brand and often be able to provide
installation and maintenance services in addition to selling you the
product. The drawback is that the distributor will not recommend
anything other than the brand he represents. In general, an authorized
distributor may make sense once you have decided to commit to a
specific brand manufacturer, but may not be the best option if you are
still shopping around and looking for some impartial advice.
you can shop for a water softener online. There are numerous ecommerce
sites that sell and ship the full spectrum of water softening
systems. The benefit of shopping online is that you can often find a
better price than at a retail store or from a dealer. However, the
drawback is that you cannot be certain of what you are getting until
the product arrives on your doorstep. You should really do your
homework if you intend to use the online option. Make sure that the
product you are buying is exactly what you want and that the online
seller you are using is reliable and trustworthy. Also, check the
return policy and make sure that a full refund is available if there
are any issues.
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