Installing a Water Softener

Solve Your Hard Water Problem

Filling the salt tank of a water softener
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Installing a water softener is often the most complete and common solution for treating hard water in the home. The first step to installing a water softener is selecting a location for the unit. The water softener needs to be positioned so that it can tie into the water supply at a place that will allow soft water into the house but not through to the outside hose connections because softened water could kill the plants (check the unit’s instructions for the recommended uses of the softened water).

The unit location should also give you access to an electrical outlet for the power and a drain for water discharge.

Test the hardness of the water before installing a water softener. Knowing how hard the water is ahead of time will help you set the softener on settings, and it could help you decide which water softener system is right for you.

Bypass Valve

Water softener bypass valve
Aaron Stickley

Install the bypass valve onto the water softener unit. Water softeners normally come with a bypass valve so you can shut off the water going through the water softener in case you need to redirect it for any reason.

Push the bypass valve into place on the back of the unit. Secure the valve by using the clips provided.

Tie Into the Water Supply

Water softener water supply
Aaron Stickley

Water softeners can be hard piped into the water supply, or they can be tied in with flex lines like a water heater. I prefer the flexible lines because it is easy to remove or bypass the system in the future.

To use flex lines cut the copper water line and install adapters that flex lines can screw onto. These fittings can be soldered on, or you can use push fit fittings that don’t require soldering. Connect the flex lines to the water supply then into the back of the water softener unit.


  • Always hold against the flex lines when tightening them, especially when there are plastic parts involved.
  • Make sure that the incoming water connects to the inlet to the valve and that the outlet on the valve connects to the water supply going into the house.


Water softener drain
Aaron Stickley

Water softeners need a place to drain water during the regeneration cycle. There are various drain options including a standpipe, a floor drain, or a utility sink.

Connect the small drain tubing to the water softener valve drain fitting. Then connect the overflow drain hose to the drain elbow on the salt tank. Both of these hoses need to be positioned so they can drain water into the drain. The two drain hoses require an air gap and cannot just be pushed into any drain pipe. Anchor the drain hoses, so they are above the drain standpipe.

A trap is required for all drain lines; in this case, there was a capped drain line coming out of the wall, so I installed a trap for the discharge of the water softener.

Add Salt and Start the System

Water softener salt
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The final step of installing a water softener is to add the salt and start up the system. Read the manufacturer's recommendations about which salt and how much to use.

When turning the water supply back on, take care to go slowly. Sudden pressure can damage fittings. Turn the cold water on at a faucet inside the house before turning the water supply on.

Follow the start-up steps for your water softener which will include setting the time of day, the water hardness level, and waiting for rinse and regeneration cycle.