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Water Softener Installation Q&A

Water Softener Installation

Are you considering installing a water softener? Perhaps you’ve heard about the benefits of soft water and want to bid farewell to limescale buildup and expensive maintenance. Or maybe you’re tired of dealing with the negative effects of hard water on your appliances and plumbing. Whatever your reason may be, navigating the world of water softener installation can seem daunting at first.

But fear not! In this comprehensive Q&A guide, we’ll address some of the most common questions people have when it comes to installing a water softener. From understanding the basics of water softening to practical installation tips, we’ve got you covered.

Don’t have time to read them all? No problem, use the Q&A index below to skip to the exact question you need an answer for.

Why Should I Install A Water Softener?

There are so many benefits to installing a water softener it’s hard to list them all. Many people love the benefits of soft water so much that they take it with them when they move! If you’re interested in learning more about the rewards of having a softener installed then you can find out more in our Benefits Of Water Softeners post. For now, here is a brief overview of some key benefits.

  • Save money on heating and energy bills by protecting your boiler and increasing the efficiency of your appliances
  • Spend less time cleaning and save on products and descalers
  • Softer laundry and clothes that stay bright
  • Use less hair products but have even silkier hair
  • Softer skin and even eczema relief

How To Properly Size A Water Softener For Your Home?

Unlike some appliances, a water softener should be appropriately sized for your home. The reasoning behind this is that each model has a particular capacity before a ‘regeneration’ is required. This regeneration process is where the resin inside the softener is cleaned, refreshing its capacity and its ability to soften your water. If a water softener is not appropriately sized, it will either regenerate too often or not often enough. If it is regenerating too often then it is likely the system is undersized for your property, which will lead to an increase in both salt and water usage. When the regeneration does not occur often enough, the resin bed may become fouled leading to increases in bacteria, sediment and dirt build up.

How Long Does It Take To Install A Water Softener?

The amount of time taken to install a water softener can vary, depending on the complexity of the job and the competence of the individual. For most standard installations where the stop cock is easily accessible you can expect it to take approximately 2 hours. With larger or more complex installations (running new pipework for example) you can expect upwards of 3 hours for installation. For customers who have previously had a water softener installed, in most cases you can utilise existing pipework, which reduces the overall time for installation to around 1 hour.

How Much Does It Cost To Install A Water Softener?

When it comes to installing a water softener you can either pay for a professional plumber or install it yourself. Depending on your plumbers hourly rate, installation is usually between £150-350 although the cost will vary from plumber to plumber. Especially if access to the mains inlet in your property is poor and if the installation is particularly challenging (for example in a difficult location).

Finding a plumber that can install your water softener is relatively easy. We would always recommend speaking with friends and family to see if they can recommend a reputable plumber or using a website like Check A Trade to find local tradesmen. During your installation, if you or your plumber need any support then we are just a phone call away.

What Is Involved In Installing A Water Softener?

Installing a water softener is easy once you know the steps involved, and is often compared to installing a washing machine. A brief overview of the installation process is outlined below. Purchasing a water softener and then either paying for a plumber to install it, or doing it DIY can often be a great way to save money when compared to opting for an all-in-one package.

  • Shutting off the water supply and draining the pipework
  • Cutting into your water supply line and installing the softener pipework
  • Plugging in the water softener if mains powered
  • Running a cleaning cycle to clean and prepare the resin
  • Test the water hardness for programming into the system
  • Putting the softener into service mode and entering hardness value
  • Filling with salt to the required level

Do I Need A Bypass When Installing A Water Softener?

Although a bypass isn’t necessary, it is always recommended to install one. The reason for this is that it allows you to isolate the water supply to the softener and bypass it without having to completely turn off your stop cock. This can be especially useful if you notice any leaks from the softener, or have to remove it temporarily to allow access. All of our installation kits include a bypass set which will allow you to isolate the water supply if required.

What Connections Are Required For A Water Softener?

Water softeners come with varying connections depending on their manufacturer. Usually consisting of four connections including inlet, outlet, drain and overflow. It is important to be aware of the connection sizes (normally either 3/4″ or 1/2″ BSP on our models) for each, so that you can use the correct hose or choose the correct installation kit. Most water softeners either come with an installation kit or can be purchased separately, which will include all of the relevant hoses and connectors required during installation.

Can A Water Softener Be Installed On A Private Supply?

Private water supplies like boreholes, springs and wells can sometimes add complexity to the softening process. When installing a water softener on a private supply the water should be adequately tested to ensure it is of potable quality and does not contain excess minerals or contaminants that could affect the ion exchange process such as lead, iron and manganese.

How Do I Know My Water Softener Is Working?

Sometimes after a water softener is first installed, you may wonder if there’s a way to find out if it’s working correctly. Luckily there are a few quick and easy ways to establish this.

  • Check how the water feels – Softened water should feel quite different to hard water. The water should have an almost slippery consistency and leave your skin feeling soft once dried, rather than hard and dry like hard water.
  • Check for salt usage – Although not an instantaneous test, you can monitor the salt usage of the water softener over a few days. If the salt level is decreasing, then it is likely it is working correctly.
  • Perform a hardness test – Using a hardness test is a quick and easy way to guarantee it is working correctly. Most hardness tests should give a reading in PPM which can be used to determine whether your water is hard, or soft.

For customers that aren’t sure whether their water softeners are working correctly, we offer a Free Water Hardness Testing service where we’ll test your water free of charge. This will give you peace of mind that everything is working as it should.

Can I Install A Water Softener Myself?

Yes, it is perfectly possible for you to install a water softener yourself. There are many walkthrough videos available online and each of our systems comes with a product manual, to guide you through the installation process. Although we would generally recommend entrusting a professional that is able to guarantee the work if any issues arise (such as leaks or breakdown).

Where Is A Water Softener Usually Installed?

Water softeners are usually installed at the point at which mains enters the home, just after the stopcock. In most houses, this is under the kitchen sink, in a cupboard, or in the garage. Ion exchange softeners also require access to a drain and a power source (but don’t worry, battery powered or non-electric systems are also available). They should also be installed inside, to protect them from the elements.

In commercial and industrial settings a water softener can either be installed at the point of entry to the property, up-front of a piece of equipment or to feed a manufacturing process. Access to mains power and a drain is still required.

Can A Water Softener Be Installed Outside?

Although it is possible to install a water softener outside, it is not recommended. This is because of temperature and moisture, both of which can hinder the performance of the system. Where the only option for installation is outside, the system should be housed inside an insulated and weatherproof structure.

Can A Water Softener Be Installed In My Flat Or Apartment?

Our water softeners can be installed in any type of flat, bungalow, house, annexe or apartment where the property has its own stop cock and water supply. If you are renting your property then you should always consult your landlord before installing a water softener.

Does A Water Softener Require Salt?

All water softeners require salt to operate and is the only form of ongoing maintenance required. Salt is used during the regeneration process to clean the resin and should always be kept to the required level (which is indicated in the product manual or on the softener itself). Our systems use Water Softener Tablet Salt which can be purchased in 10kg or 25kg quantities. Other systems on the market may use block or granular salt instead.

How Long Does It Take To Get Soft Water?

After installation you should start to see the benefits of soft water almost immediately. A water softener works quickly to remove any existing scale build-up from your pipework and appliances. Our customers can usually expect a scale-free kettle within 2 months of installation, no more scale in your boiler within 6 months and no scale left in your home’s pipework after 24 months. During this time you will experience all of the other benefits of soft water, whilst your water softener is working hard in the background to offer the benefits that you can’t see, touch or taste.

Can I Install A Water Softener Without A Drain?

Without an easy to access drain it can be hard to install a water softener. Access to a drain allows for waste water to be flushed from the system during the regeneration process. Where access to the drain is restricted due to your chosen installation location, you have a few options available.

  • Use an existing sink to drain
  • Run a new drain line
  • Use a drip tray

How Do I Choose An Installation Kit?

You need to make sure you have the correct Water Softener Installation Kit for your application. The installation kit should match the inlet/outlet size of your softener and the size of your existing pipework. There are also high flow installation kits available which are generally recommended for systems feeding combi boilers or direct systems. If you are unsure of the size of your existing pipework, you should speak with your plumber who should be able to advise. In the UK a domestic water supply is usually either 15mm or 22mm in diameter.

Do I Need To Know My Water Hardness?

It is important to know the hardness of your water as this information is used to program your softener. Using a specific reading allows the valve to be programmed efficiently, and by doing so this avoids infrequent or excessive regeneration saving you both salt and water in the process. We suggest using a Water Hardness Test Kit or speaking with your local water provider to find out this information. A free hardness test kit is also included with all of our installation kits.

Can I Take My Water Softener With Me If I Move?

Once your water softener is installed, we are sure you will reap the rewards of soft water, so much so that should you ever move house in the future you will find yourself asking can I take my water softener with me? Luckily water softeners are easy to disconnect, move and re-install, so you can either do this yourself or contact a plumber to help. If you do move the system to a new property, you may notice the water doesn’t feel as nice as it did for a while, this is because the new property likely has some existing scale build-up in its pipework, but it won’t take long for your water softener to remove this and you’ll have silky soft water again in no time!

Do I Need To Do Anything To Maintain My Water Softener?

It is important to understand the maintenance schedule for your softener. The most important requirement is that your water softener is kept topped up with salt, as this is used to create a brine solution which is key to the regeneration process. Most softeners last 15+ years and rarely need any attention other than frequent salt top-ups. However, if you notice anything unusual, like the salt level is not going down or your water feels hard again, it would be recommended to contact a local plumber to service and clean your water softener. For customers in areas with large amounts of silt, iron or manganese we recommend the use of a Water Softener Resin Cleaner every 6 months. Service kits and spare parts are available for our entire range of softeners.

Have More Questions About Installing A Water Softener?

If you have further questions about installing a Water Softener then you can contact a member of our team at any time, by giving us a call on 01622 933 853 or by submitting your query on our Support page. For customers that are looking to book an installation, please visit our Water Softener Installation page to learn more about the services we offer.

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