Water Softener Price Guide
Most commonly, water softening systems are installed in homes that receive hard water from their local water supply. Hard water is very common and not inherently harmful to your body, but it can leave skin and hair feeling less than smooth.
See what it costs to install water softener and then, connect with a local plumber to finally get the soft water you deserve.
Table of Contents
- Water Softener Installation Cost
- Water Softener Installation Cost Factors
- Other Water Softener Prices
- Why Add A Water Softener?
- How Water Softeners Work
- Types Of Water Softeners
- Water Softener Sizes
- Water Softener Benefits
- Water Softener Drawbacks
- DIY Or Hire A Pro?
- How To Install A Water Softener
- Find A Plumber
Water Softener Installation Cost
There are plenty of factors that can influence the cost of a new water softener system. Manual regeneration softeners tend to be the least expensive to install — in some cases costing around just $400 with an extra $100 - $400 for installation— whereas a metered or even timed system can cost significantly more, with the average reported cost running about $3,000 total.
- Minimum Cost: $400
- Maximum Cost: $10,000
- Average Cost: $3,000
Homeowners must consider whether or not they have the correct plumbing setup for hard water installation. If not, you should expect to spend another $100 to $500 to install the correct pipes.
Water Softener Installation Cost Factors
While the water softener prices above are accurate across the country, there are of course ways to lower your water softener installation cost. Keep all in mind as you price shop to ensure you don’t overpay for this fairly common plumbing project.
Water Softener Size
Different homes require different water softeners. Just like HVAC costs, it costs more to soften the water of a larger home than a smaller, one-bedroom apartment. Therefore, more often than not, the larger the home, the more you’re going to pay to install a water softener.
When it comes to size, some of the factors your local plumber will look at are:
- How much water you use
- Hardness of water
- How many water fixtures you use
As the numbers go up, so too does you water softener price.
Condition of Water
Some water is harder than others. As you might expect, the harder your water, the higher your water softening cost will be. That’s because you’re going to require a more intense system to soften the water.
As our friends at HomeAdvisor pointed out, if you’re connected to a city water supply, the water department should be able to provide a report on the hardness of your water. If you rely on a well, you can buy test kits that will test pH, hardness and iron content in your water. These kits normally cost from up to $50.
Type of Water Softener
There are a few different types of water softeners, all coming in at different price points. The four types are:
- Dual Tank
Ion-exchangers are the most popular and affordable. Magnetic, while newer, are also not as expensive as salt-free or dual tank exchangers. Of course, the status of your water and size of your house could limit your water softener choices.
More often than not, homeowners hire water treatment professionals to install or replace water softeners. However, different pros have different labor costs. That’s why it always pays to get up to four quotes on any plumbing or home remodeling project.
Other Water Softener Prices
Maintenance and repairs are a part of all home features. Whether it’s staining your floors, patching your roof or cleaning your brine tank, maintenance and repairs cost money. Sadly, a water softener is not a set it and forget type of appliance.
First off, unless you have a salt-free system, you’ll have to add more salt from time to time. The salt helps remove the hardness from the water. The more it uses, the faster you’re going to have to replace it.
Once a year, you should also consider replacing or clearing out the brine tank. Salt can build up and if you don’t clean it out, your water softener will not work and may require costly repairs.
Speaking of repairs, most water softeners need more attention after a few years. Luckily, most come with a warranty and your water softener pro should be able to fix most issues. Like other water treatment repairs, the cost should not exceed $400.
Why Add A Water Softener?
Sometimes, our water feels tougher than others. Just like fluffy towels, soft water feels better on the skin, especially when it comes to showering and washing our hands. But besides touch, there are a few other reasons homeowners across the country are installing water softeners.
To start off, hard water is not as safe to drink. Hard water could add calcium and magnesium to your daily intake. If you’re trying to avoid either, you may want to install a water treatment and purification system.
Second, hard water does not adhere to soap as well as soft water. This can make cleaning dishes or even laundry difficult. In addition, gray or white spots may show up on your silverware and laundry if your hard water it not contained.
Finally, hard water is not safe for your pipes. It can build up, block your pipes and even demand a repair or two. The cost to repair a clogged pipe averages $194.
How Water Softeners Work
We won’t bore you will all details, but it pays to know how water softeners work. All water softeners contain three essential parts:
- Mineral Tank
- Brine Tank
- Control Valve
Once the mineral tank is installed as close as possible to your water supply, it begins to work. Hard water passes through beads to get into your mineral tank. The beads attract hard minerals such as calcium and magnesium. Those minerals are then exchanged with sodium and potassium in the brine tank. This completes the ion exchange and water is pushed through your system.
Finally, the control valve cleans those beads. It activates when it thinks the beads need cleaning. As we’ll touch in the next section, the control valve operates on a timer or computer-based schedule.
Types Of Water Softeners
By far, the most common type of water softener available on the market today is the ion-exchanging resin water softener. Essentially, this type of water softener uses sodium, potassium or hydrogen to remove unwanted materials from ground water. In all these softeners, there is a bed of resin through which the water passed as it enters your plumbing system. The resin itself holds a negative charge at all times, whereas the metal ions found in the hard water carry a positive charge. As a result, when the water passes through the resin, the unwanted materials are drawn out.
Within the ion-exchanging resin water softener type, there are three sub-categories under which they might fall based on how the systems regenerate, or how often the control valve activates. These include:
- By Meter
- By Timer
A water softener that's set up for meter regeneration will operate based on the amount of water used in the home. This type of setup is ideal for those who want to ensure that their systems are as efficient as possible. Because the softener will only produce as much soft water as is needed, there's no need to worry about waste. Most water softeners, however, operate on a timed system. This type of regeneration system sets the softener to produce a set amount of soft water at the same time every day. The nice thing about this is that the system always runs at the same time and can be changed by the homeowner as needed. Finally, there's the option of the manual regenerated water softener. These are the least expensive, but they require you to manually indicate when the softener should run. There is no timer or meter on the system itself.
As noted above, there are three other types of water softening systems. Salt-free systems use potassium instead of sodium to block the harmful minerals. However, unlike sodium systems, potassium does not remove magnesium and calcium. It just stops it from entering your pipes.
Finally, dual tanks are used for very large homes and magnetic or electronic softeners are the new kids on the block. They are not time-tested like the other three, but many homeowners enjoy the low installation cost and claim the systems work just as well.
Water Softener Sizes
As you’ve heard time and time again, your water softening system will largely depend on how much water you use. Water softeners look at the number of grains-per-gallon (GPG). While it’s hard to determine exactly how much water you and your family use every month, there are simple calculations to get a rough estimate.
- Multiply the number of people in house by 80
- Multiply that number by 10
- This number is the grain requirements per family
Higher grain requirements demand stronger water softeners. For example, a family using 3,000 grains of water may only require a 24,000 CPG softener. You can purchase such a softener for as little as $300. However, a larger family who uses 10,000 grains of water may require an 80,000 CPG softener. These systems can cost as much as $2,000.
As you can see, the size of your home, how many of you are living there and how much water you use can greatly affect your water softener price.
Water Softener Benefits
There are numerous advantages and disadvantages to installing a water softener. You must take all into consideration before making a final decision.
Perhaps the biggest advantage is saving money on long-term repair costs. Hard water can be damaging to a home's plumbing system. Specifically, magnesium and calcium can build up in appliances, pipes and other aspects of the home's plumbing, causing expensive damage over time. By installing a water softener, unwanted materials can be removed from the hard water, "softening" it and making it better for use with appliances and cleaning.
Furthermore, many people who have made the switch from hard to soft water will agree that soft water leaves the skin feeling smoother and healthier. The same goes for hair. While soft water can take some time to get used to, those who make the switch usually grow to prefer soft water over hard water when bathing.
Finally, water softeners are quite easy to maintain. Aside from occasionally adding salt to the system, they don't require much maintenance at all.
Water Softener Drawbacks
Of course, there are still some drawbacks to water softeners. For starters, the upfront cost can be a bit daunting for some homeowners, especially those on a tight budget. Because the average cost to have a water softener installed is around $3,000, this can be a large investment for any homeowner. Furthermore, because it's not an absolute necessity, many homeowners find that they'd rather spend their money on other household improvements.
For those who go with a manual unit, it can be difficult to know when the softener needs to be turned on, as determining how much water is used in the household can be a challenge.
DIY Or Hire A Pro?
Installing a new water softener is not as easy as installing a new sink. Like most plumbing projects, homeowners with an active DIY thumb can install water softeners on their own. While the installation is not overly complicated, errors can have lasting effects. In fact, if you install the wrong size or cut the wrong pipe, you could end up spending more on repairs than it would have been to hire a pro.
How To Install A Water Softener
Never let us scare you away from a DIY project. If you’re up for a DIY challenge, watch how to install a water softener below:
Find A Plumber
Being aware of the factors that influence the water softener cost, the potential pros and cons of water softener installation, and the different types available, you’re more than prepared to determine if a water softener is right for you.
As always, if you need help along the way, ImproveNet can connect you with up to four local plumbers ready to install or replace a water softening system.
Last updated on Mar 1, 2017
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