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How to Install a Water Softener System

Installing a water softener system is a simple way to cure a home's hard-water problems. Use these step-by-step instructions to complete this DIY project.

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Step 1: Choose a System and a Location

Before choosing a water softener system, determine how much water you use per day and have your water tested for hardness.

Keep at least 10' of piping between the water heater and the water softener. The location should be dry, level and away from direct sunlight. Make sure the temperature stays above freezing, and choose an area that's near an electrical outlet. The system should also be close to the main water line and a drain.

choose best location for water softener system

Step 2: Shut Off the Water, and Drain the Lines

Shut off the water at the main using a curb key.

Drain the water lines by turning on a faucet at the highest and lowest point in the house.

shut off water at main using curb key

Step 3: Shut Off the Valve and Power

Shut off the valve at the water heater.

Turn off the power to the water heater. If it's gas, turn the control to 'Pilot.'

shut off valve at water heater

Step 4: Connect New Water Lines

Using two pipe wrenches, slowly loosen the union on the water line so that you can tap new lines into the existing water line (Image 1).

Connect the new water lines to the existing line (Image 2).

Step 5: Begin Installing a Remote Bypass

A remote bypass is a system of pipes that will allow water to come into the water softener or it can by-pass the system altogether. A short pipe connects the feed-line pipe and the service line creating the by-pass.

Insert a male adaptor to the female adaptor on the tank.

Install a union on the end of the male adaptor.

installing a remote bypass

Step 6: Apply Flux, and Connect the Fittings

Apply flux to the ends of the pipes, and connect the fittings to the pipes (Image 1).

Heat the pipes using a torch, then solder the joints together (Image 2). Reconnect to the main water line.

Turn the water back on at the main. Next, turn on the power to the water heater. Open the stop valves at the water heater, and check for leaks.

Step 7: Remove the Barbed Fitting, and Apply Teflon Tape

To install the drain line, remove the barbed fitting behind the controls on the tank.

Apply Teflon tape to the threads (Image 1).

Re-attach the barbed fitting, then attach the 1/2" drain tube to barbed fitting (Image 2). Secure the drain tube to the pipe using cable ties.

Step 8: Continue the Drain Line

Continue the drain line until you reach the drain.

Note: The drain line needs a 4" gap between the end of the line and the open drain to prevent backflow. Also, follow the local drainage codes.

continue the drain line

Step 9: Install the Brine Line

To install the brine line, the first step is to take the lid off to the brine tank.

Next, push the tube through the hole on the side of the tank.

Attach a compression fitting to the end of the tube (Image 1), and connect to the safety valve.

Run the brine line to the resin tank.

Install a compression fitting to the other end of the tube, and attach the tube to the intake located on the side of the control valve (Image 2). Replace the lid.

Step 10: Connect a Drain Tube

Connect a drain tube to the overflow valve located on the side of the brine tank. Run the tube to the drain, and plug in the system.

connect drain tube to overflow valve

Step 11: Shut Off the Bypass

Shut off the bypass, then open the valve going into the water softener system. Check for leaks.

Open the service valve to allow the water to flow through.

shut off bypass

Step 12: Add Salt and Finish Installation

Fill the brine tank with salt just below the top of the well.

Note: Be sure to check the salt level often.

Run the unit through all of the rinsing stations for two to three minutes to clean the resin and flush out any built-up minerals.

Set the timer appropriately. Also, set the timer to run a rinse cycle when no one is home. Finally, replace the cover on the tank.

set timer to run rinse cycle