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Breaking Down Water Softener Installation Costs


Whether you’re waiting for your water softener installation or still researching systems, it’s important to know exactly what you’ll be paying for. However, professional installation comes with a lot of variables, including:

  • The size and type of water softening system
  • Labor and installation
  • Parts
  • Plumbing
  • Inspections and permits

Simply put, you won’t know the complete installation cost until you talk to your installer. That way, you’ll get a customized, realistic estimate — and the chance to ask any cost-related questions, too.

In the meantime, here’s a breakdown of what could contribute to the overall fee and what you should expect.

Water Softener Installation Costs: What You’re Paying For

It’s difficult to make any guarantees about the cost of professional installation without talking to the professionals themselves. However, one thing is clear: It’s always better to let the experts handle your water softening system. That’s because DIY installations can be expensive, complicated and even potentially dangerous, especially if a small mistake ends up leading to additional costs in plumbing repair. When you call in the pros, you’re getting the added value of greater speed and simplicity.

Fortunately, you don’t give up all the power when you work with experts to install your water softening system. For example, you’ll still get complete insight into what you’re paying for, such as:

Your Water Softener System

Generally speaking, it’s safe to assume that the water softener cost is separate from any installation cost. You still have to purchase the system itself — and prices can vary depending on the capacity, available features and more. The good news is that you don’t need to pay for all the bells and whistles to get basic water softener functionality; all of these systems address hardness issues by flushing out hard water minerals, even without a huge capacity or the latest smart features. (Of course, smart water softeners have plenty of benefits, too.)

Labor and Installation

After you’ve determined the water softener system cost, you can move on to the installation itself. This is just like any other service process, such as vehicle repair or air conditioning services: You’re paying for labor and expertise. Remember, professional water softener installation is still far cheaper than potentially ruining your plumbing or causing other problems with a well-intentioned but poorly executed DIY attempt.


The term “parts” may sound like it includes your water softener itself, but that’s not the case. This is a separate potential cost that covers any additional plumbing fixtures or connectors that may be necessary. Because the need for parts is determined on a case-by-case basis, it’s best to talk with your installers so you know exactly what to expect.

Inspections and Permits

This is where things get complicated. State and local plumbing codes determine who can get a permit for certain types of work, which means you may need help from plumbing experts just to get started. This helps ensure that your potable water line doesn’t accidentally connect to a septic or sewer line, which could let bacteria and other contaminants into your drinking water supply. It also prevents plumbing system problems that might let sewer gas into your home.


Inspections and permits are a good first step when required in your area, but they don’t cover the plumbing services themselves. Depending on your water softener system and where it’s being installed, additional plumbing work might be necessary — so remember to ask about this before your experts get started.

New Installation vs. Replacement

Are you buying a new water softener, or are you using a replacement service? The difference can impact your overall installation costs, particularly if you need an old system uninstalled and removed. Of course, your experts will know about this ahead of time, so you shouldn’t get any pricing surprises. Some will even remove and haul away your old system at no additional cost.

What Happens Before Installation?

A lot of things need to happen before you finally get soft water — but many of them aren’t directly part of the water softener installation cost or process. In fact, some of the most important steps occur before you’ve even chosen your softener.

Here’s a look at what else you should expect:

Water Testing

To effectively address hardness, a water softener needs to be able to handle the right amount of hard water minerals. That’s called “grain capacity.”

However, you won’t know the necessary grain capacity until you’ve had a professional water test. That’s because hardness levels differ by geographic area — and if you chose a low-grain-capacity softener for a high-grain home, you wouldn’t get the softened water you hoped for.

Fortunately, professional water tests can answer this question in 30 minutes or less. Along the way, you’ll also get information about potential problems such as chlorine, iron and other contaminants that might require a water filter system. Your local water experts will be able to interpret these results and recommend all the best solutions, from softening to filtration.

Water Softener Selection

After you get a water softener recommendation, it’s up to you to make the final call. Although the size and capacity are requirements for good performance, you can personalize other options.

For example, you could choose smart features that allow you to monitor and control your system right from your phone. You could also have control over bypass settings, which allow you to skip areas that don’t need soft water (like your lawn). Some features even provide water usage tracking so you can take control of conservation habits.

Other water softener systems include water filter steps that address chlorine or iron issues. That’s great news if you’ve noticed odor, taste or color issues in your water or around your plumbing fixtures.

Home Preparation

Your installation experts will perform their own inspection to determine the best spot for your softener based on two considerations:

  • Your plumbing system (for example, the setup of your pipes)
  • Where you’d like your system
  • The availability of a water line
  • The availability of a drain

After that, it will be up to you to prepare the space. Clean up about nine square feet around the selected spot — and don’t forget to clear access to your water supply, pipes, a drain and at least one electrical outlet. This will help make installation day a whole lot smoother.

Just keep in mind that you don’t have to turn off your water supply or call in separate plumbing services. Your installation experts can handle all the details.

What Happens After Installation?

After water softener installation, you can expect:

Soft Water

Soft water feels a little different, and you should notice it right away. Some systems even allow you to change the softness level so you can customize the way your water feels.

However, you shouldn’t notice a significant change in the taste, odor or color of your water. These are signs of other issues with your water supply and may indicate contamination. This is a separate issue from hard water, which means you might need another water test and a filtration system recommendation.

No More Hard Water Issues

Hard water issues come in a lot of forms:

  • Cleaning problems like mineral buildup or limescale and soap spots on plumbing fixtures, dishes and bathroom glass.
  • Soap problems such as limited lather and reduced product efficiency.
  • Comfort problems like itchy, irritated skin and dry, brittle hair.
  • Water-using appliance problems including reduced lifetime and performance.
  • Laundry problems such as fading colors, stiff fabrics and unpleasant odors.

A water softener addresses all of this and more by flushing out the culprits: hard water minerals.

Low Maintenance Requirements

When it comes to your water softener, maintenance costs and effort aren’t a big deal. Your biggest responsibility is to replace the salt regularly so your system can provide uninterrupted softening. To do that, you can check the salt level in the brine tank — or you can simplify these responsibilities with a few clever moves.

For example, some water softeners have smart features that notify you when it’s time for a salt refill. On top of that, you can also schedule salt deliveries to keep from hauling those salt bags in and out of your vehicle. With both of these solutions, softener maintenance is simple and stress-free — and a regular schedule of care keeps your softener working better for longer.

Water Softener Installation Done Right

When it comes to water softener installation, DIY isn’t the way to go. Professional installers know all about plumbing techniques, local requirements and water softener parts — plus, they have the tools and experience to get the job done right. You’ll get the added value of speed and accuracy, and when everything is finished, you can ask questions about your system, maintenance needs and more.

Of course, the entire water softening process begins with a single step: water testing. This is your chance to find out your home’s water hardness levels and which softener might be right for you.

Get started by scheduling your free, in-home water test and consultation today.

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