How to Install a Water Softener? (Troubleshoot Common Issues)

Consuming the right kind of water is essential for health. And it’s not just about the water that you drink. It’s also about the quality of water that you use for external purposes as well, such as bathing, washing clothes, etc.

Most water sources don’t have water that’s directly consumable. Unless you live in jungles or mountains and would want to drink out of a lake or a natural water fountain, chances are that you’ll need to treat the water you get and make it acceptable for consumption.

Most water that comes into homes in urban and even rural areas is hard water. This means that it contains sales of several minerals – calcium and magnesium commonly which makes it unsuitable for direct consumption.

To make that water fit for consumption, you’ll need a water softener. In this article, we shall discover all about installing the right water softener at your place so that you don’t consume unfit water. Also, we’ll see the right method to install the softener on your own.

Planning and Preparation

Installing a water softener isn’t just about going to the market and getting the first option you see on the shelf.

There needs to be some work done. There are several variables that need consideration before installing the softener. Let’s have a look at some of them.

– Assessing Your Water Hardness

Not all water softeners are made for all types of hard water. Depending on the composition of your water, you’ll need a suitable fix.

The water hardness is determined by Grains per gallon (GPG)

The following levels determine the water hardness:

Soft  1.0 GPG
Slightly hard 1.0 – 3.5 GPG
Moderately hard3.5 – 7.0 GPG
Hard    7.0 – 10.5 GPG
Very HardAbove 10.5 GPG

For that, the first task is to assess the hardness of your water. There are 2 ways to do it. The simplest and easiest way is to take the water sample from your place and take it to a nearby lab for quick sampling. They’ll run the necessary tests and tell you the exact hardness levels of your water.

The second one is to get a home testing kit from the store. The kit contains strips that’ll change colours according to the hardness of the water. You can then see the final colour and compare it to the provided colour chart to assess the hardness of your water.

There’s another at-home method to check whether you have hard water or not. It’s to take a bottle of water and fill it with liquid soap. Then you shake it rigorously and open it to see the lather. If there’s no lather or bubbles, it means that your water is hard. But that’ll only tell you if the water is hard or not but not show you the exact hardness.

– Choosing the right size and type of water softener

Once you have the hardness numbers, it gets easier to choose what softener you want.

Depending upon the hardness levels, you can choose a machine that can handle the hardness levels of your water. But that’s not all that’s there. It also depends upon the number of consumers of water.

As said, the number of consumers will determine the amount of grains that your machine should be able to handle.

Commonly, in households, there are anywhere between 1 to 6 people. So for a range of 1-4 people, your machine should be able to handle a minimum of 30,000 grains. And for 5-6 people, it should be capable of handling 40,000 grains minimum.

If you need a softener for commercial use, let’s say, an office with 20 people, then you’ll need a softener accordingly.

It’s essential that you do the homework before getting a water softener. If you get an undersized softener, then you’ll be consuming hard water. And if you get something oversized, you’ll unnecessarily be paying more.

– Gather the necessary tools and materials

Most water softeners will come with instructions that’ll tell you the necessary tools needed for a successful installation.

It’ll also mention if you’d be needed anything special.

But some common tools and materials that you’ll need are:

  • Torch and solder
  • Cutters to cut pipes and resize them
  • Pipe wrench
  • Measuring tape to get the exact measurements
  • Tubings that are flexible
  • Copper fittings
  • Gate valves
  • Compression fittings
  • Tubing or copper pipe
  • Teflon tapes are necessary for bindings
  • Union fittings
  • PVC solvent or flux

Installing the Water Softener

Now that you have the necessary tools, know about the hardness levels, and have the right water softener, it’s time to get down to the installation business.

– Preparing the installation location

Your softener’s location plays a major role in its effectiveness and its long life.

People don’t really put much thought into their softener’s location, and as a result, they deal with routine problems, ineffective water softening, and shorter life span of their machine.

So, prepare for the location. Ideally, it should easily integrate anywhere in the house’s plumbing system. But make sure that you connect it to the main line before it outs into another channel. Failure to do so will get leave some taps getting hard water.

Also, you should install the softener before the heating mechanisms. The idea is that the water should already be soft before it gets heated. And, if your heater comes before the softener, your softener will take a hit. Because it’ll have to soften hot water.

Plus, the water dynamics may change as well because of the high temperatures.

–   Installing the water softener unit

Once the location is finalized, now is the time to install the softener.

Here’s the step-by-step method to do it:

  • Turn off the water supply. This is the first thing to do because you can’t install a softener with running water. Also, make sure the heater is off too. Because without the water in the pipes, the heater can cause damage.
  • Cut the main line at the place where you want your softener installed. Ensure that you place all your tools there with the machine so that you don’t have to pause the work unnecessarily.
  • Also, keep a bucket or something to collect any excess water that the pipe may spit. Don’t avoid this because unwanted water can make your workspace messy.
  • Follow the instructions provided on the water softener and connect the main line terminals to the water softener.
  • Put outlets for drainage in the brine tank. That’s key. And brine tanks’ location is also something to consider when choosing a location for your water softener.

And that’s pretty much it. Once all the things are in place and look good, you are set to proceed to the programming and testing stage.

Programming and Testing

The beauty of water softeners is that once programmed, they run and soften the water automatically. With minimal monitoring.

However, initial programming is essential for the softener to deliver optimal results. And it’s not that hard. And with some advanced digital machines, you can get done with the whole programming in a few minutes.

Anyways, let’s see how to program the softener and then proceed to the testing stage.

  • Once the softener is fixed properly, it’s time to power it. Also, open the valves and let the water pass through the softener.
  • Notice for any leaks nearby the new piping that you did. If you see any leakages, turn off the valves and fix that first. If everything is fine, then move on to the programing stage.
  • Set the timings on your machine. This is the schedule that your softener will follow to soften your hard water. It’s best that you set this time on your snooze times so that your water consumption times aren’t interrupted by the machine.
  • Set the hardness levels your softener has to deal with according to your water hardness. This number will be based on the results you got when you tested the water for hardness. If you already have a softener but are clueless about the water hardness, then take a sample and get it tested for hardness.
  • Set the regeneration time. What’s regeneration of the water softener? Well, it’s the process of setting the internal mechanism of your machine right and flushing away the calcium, magnesium, and other minerals that make your water hard.
  • That’s all; you are set to use your softener now. A word of caution, though – different softeners from different brands can have varied settings. Make sure that you go through the user’s manual for your specific machine to have the best settings for your machine.

Now is the time to test your softener.

There are two ways to do that. First is to take a sample of water and get it tested from a lab nearby. And the second is the lather test.

You’ll need to take a bottle filled with water that you consume. Put liquid soap in it. If it makes lathers and bubbles, then its soft water. But if there’s no bubbles, you’ll need to get the softener checked because it’s probably not working properly.

Maintenance and Upkeep

A water softener is a machine, after all. To ensure that it has a long life and it works efficiently, you’ll need to maintain it timely. Here are some key points to check to make sure that your softener is thoroughly maintained.

–  How Often To Regenerate the Resin Bed?

The resin bed is the heart of your softener. Because this is where magnesium and calcium are plucked out of your water, and it’s made soft.

 The regeneration frequency of your resin bed depends on several things, such as the hardness of your water, your consumption amounts, how old your machine is, etc.

However, a safe number of regeneration is once every couple of days. These days there are several advanced machines that can regenerate the resin beds a couple of times in a single day as well. But again, you can set the frequency manually on your softeners.

– How to Properly Maintain the Brine Tank?

Maintaining the brine tank isn’t some rocket science. It’s manual labour, actually, haha.

Before all, disconnect the brine tank from the system and let the water pass directly from the softener. This is called the “bypass mode.”

Then, you’ll need to flush out the substances in the brine tank, take some soap and scrub and rub the insides of the tank.

If you see any crusty salt accumulations, get rid of those as well.

Then fill it with water and put some bleach in it and let the bleach water sit in the tank for 15 to 20 min. Once that’s done, flush away the water and scrub the insides of the tank again. It’s best if you can use chlorine water because that’ll kill the germs in the tank.

Then fill the tank with about 5 gallons of water and add water softener salt in the tank. Don’t fill the tank to the top. That can prevent the machine from working optimally.

– How to Troubleshoot Common Issues with Water Softeners?

If your softener isn’t working properly, then there may be some issue that’s going unnoticed. Usually, there is nothing to worry about.

Here are some common issues that can show us with the softener and how to resolve them:

  • Your machine may be disconnected. This is a simple problem that can occur. If you sense that your softener isn’t working, the first thing to ensure is that it’s powered.
  • Ensure that the machine isn’t in bypass mode. Bypass mode can only handle the softening for some time, but if the “hard material” isn’t going into the brine tank, it’ll start coming into your water source.
  • See that the resin bed is regenerated properly and routinely.
  • Make sure that the salt levels are optimal in the brine tank. Also, see that you are using the right type of salt. If you use anything other than what’s recommended, your machine may not work well. The same will happen if your salt levels are higher or lower than the recommended levels.
  • Check for resin depletion. This won’t be an issue generally if your machine is reasonably new. But resin depletion is a common issue, and you can resolve it by getting the resin replaced.

If the problem persists, it’s better to check the user’s manual. We’re sure there may be a problem that we haven’t covered here. And if you still can’t figure out what’s wrong or how to fix your water softener, it is best that you call an expert and have them address the matter.

Conclusion | How to Install a Water Softener?

A water softener is an amazing machine that’s letting lots of water from going to waste. Without it all the hard water will be avoided. Or people will have to face health issues and have lessened life of their belongings such as clothes.

In itself, hard water is something that’s not suitable for humans. It can even cause damage to fabrics and skin and cause other problems. Because it’s so high in calcium and magnesium salts.

You can ensure that you consume water that provides health simply by installing a water softener.

As mentioned above, fixing a water softener isn’t difficult. A few simple steps are all you need to consume soft water. If there’s still any difficulty, you can call or contact the machine manufacturers and have them address your queries. Or you can call up a local plumber and get the machine fixed.

But remember, you’ll need to regularly maintain the machine. If you fail to do so, you’ll eventually be consuming hard water because, after a certain period of non-maintenance, the machine will pass on the hard water to your home pipes.

With that said, do take this matter seriously. Hard water isn’t the ideal thing to consume. Avoid uninvited problems with a water softener!


This is my blog about the ways and solutions that can help you improve your health by taking more value from drinking water. As improving health means a lot to me, I decided to create the Water On Top project with the purpose to reveal the benefits of water, the finest products to take our daily water to another level, and much more great stuff about water that I believe is on top of our nutrition.

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