Before you go out and buy one, you need to review 4 things on how much to install a water softener. By knowing these things, you can make sure you are ready for the entire possible installation costs.
Water Softener System Cost
Before we get to those 4 things, we’ll shortly cover water softener cost, as determined by several factors. For a more detailed discussion regarding these factors, check out our post “How Much Does A Water Softener Cost.”
Even just a general understanding of these factors is essential when gauging how much you’ll be spending to install the softener system you’ll be getting.
Cost and Capacity of Water Softeners
Water softener prices vary depending on the capacity, as well as additional features they can offer.
Salt-based softeners cost can range from $600 to $3,200 installed (cost to install: $200 to $500; unit: $400 to $2,700) for single tank water softeners. A dual tank water softener (salt-based water softener that uses two mineral tanks) can cost $1,400 to $3,500 to install.
Salt-free water softeners are increasingly becoming popular due to having low-maintenance costs and a no-waste operation. A salt-free system can cost $400 to $4,000 for materials and installation. Investing in higher quality systems specifically will cost around $1,000 to $2,800, which can benefit you in the long run.
Reverse osmosis systems are effective in softening and filtering, which makes this system quite expensive compared to other water softeners on our list. A below the counter system can cost from $150 to $900 to install. The price range shoots up dramatically for a whole house water softener system using reverse osmosis. You’ll need to prepare an amount between $4,000 to $12,000 if you’re looking to have a whole house system.
Opting for electronic/magnetic water softeners will cost you anywhere from $75 to $600 for a unit. With how easy it is to install on your own, you won’t need to set aside a budget for installation costs.
Portable water softeners are lightweight and easy-to-hook-up systems. They go for around $150 to $400 per unit. Made specially for RVs and travel trailers, you can’t expect a portable water softener to provide soft water for a whole house. On the other hand, if your space is a small studio, portable ion exchangers could provide soft water for a part or the entirety of it.
A shower head water softener costs quite less than most water softener systems. You can have one for your shower room for as low as 30$. For showerheads with more functionality than just water softening, prices can go upwards to 200$.
Household Water Consumption
This is a top 0actor that determines water softener prices. The amount of water consumed by your household will affect what water softener you’ll end up installing. A family of four will consume more water than a household of two.
The most accurate way to determine your household’s daily water consumption is to look at a water bill. You’ll most likely find info for total consumption for a month. From there, you can calculate how much water your household consumes on average per day.
If this info is unavailable to you at the moment, a quick way is to use any number between 80 to 100 per person in your household. According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), this is the average number of gallons a person uses per day.
Household Water Hardness
Another factor that will affect what system you will buy is water hardness. The harder your water, the more magnesium and calcium ions the water softener needs to remove. This directly affects the size or capacity of the system you will need.
To measure water hardness, you have two options. You can use a test kit for water hardness or get the hardness level from your local water utility.
For most cities, city water utility annual reports are available online. From these reports, you can determine the water quality that reaches your household. If this info isn’t available, you’re left with the first option. Water test kits are fairly accessible and can help you determine the hardness of your water, as well as detect the existence of contaminants.
Once you get your hands on the report, see if iron is present in your water. If it is, the hardness value needs to be adjusted. You’ll need to add 3 gpg of hardness to the total value for every 1 mg/L (ppm) of iron.
Part of the House to be Served
The last significant factor that affects a softener system’s cost is the part of the house it will serve. Softening water in just the kitchen will only require an under-the-kitchen sink system. Softened water for just showering calls for a showerhead water softener.
Travelling a lot on an RV or travel trailer will make a portable ion exchange system the better choice for you. Now, if you want to soften water for your entire house or a large part of your house, you can choose between ion-exchange softeners, salt-free softeners, or electronic/magnetic water softeners.
Water Softener Installation Cost
The 4 things you need to review regarding water softener installation costs will be discussed below. Understanding these things will help you arrive at a realistic quote for how much you’ll be spending to install a water softener.
General Installation Costs
In general, there are three cost ranges you can expect when installing water softeners: (1) Budget; (2) Average; and, (3) High-End.
Take note that these ranges take into account professional installation and not DIY installation. The average labor cost can range from around $200 to $500. Material costs required to install water softener may be required by the professionals, which is a detail not included in these price ranges.
Also, take note that these ranges also include the price of the system, which will usually pertain to whole house water softeners.
Budget Installation: $600 to $1,000
This price range will get you a water softener installed enough for small to medium-sized homes. You can expect the unit itself to have lower-quality components compared to the next two price ranges.
Average Installation: $1,000 to $2,200
This price range will be enough to install water softeners for almost all homes. The water softener system will use higher quality components but will rarely offer additional luxury features.
High-End Installation: $2,200 to $3,500+
At this price range, installing a water softener for all homes, especially large homes, will include a unit from top brands. That means a unit with top of the line components, as well as various additional luxury features (WiFi control, metered regeneration, filtration, purification, etc.).
What About DIY Installation?
Opting for a water softener unit that can easily be installed DIY-style will cut installation and labor costs dramatically. Apart from the unit itself, you’ll only need some tools you probably already have at home. Easy-to-install systems include a magnetic/electronic water softener, a portable ion exchange system, and a showerhead water softener.
However, pricier units should be reserved for professional installation. This is especially true if you have next to zero experience with house projects like this. Leaving the water softener installation to the professionals for pricier units will benefit you by ensuring your pricey unit will be installed correctly. Skimping on hiring a professional might result in a damaged water softener unit.
Check out our guide on water softener installation to see if this project is something you can do yourself.
Electrical and Plumbing
In some cases, to install a water softener, you’ll need to move around existing pipes and electrical wirings. Especially if you’ll install a water softener that needs electricity, you’ll need to make sure it can reach a nearby power supply. Plumbers and electricians charge $45 to $150 per hour, excluding costs for materials.
If you have experience with past plumbing projects and home wiring projects, you’ll know when you can take installation yourself. Similarly, you’ll know when it’s time to call in professional water softener installers.
If you have no experience with these kinds of projects, you will be better off hiring a plumber and an electrician. Messing with plumbing systems and house wiring when you have little to no idea how these things work can result in an expensive cleanup. You’ll end up spending more on this DIY project than what it would have cost to call in the professionals.
If water softener installation will require you to have structural work done on your home, you’ll need to hire a general contractor. Fortunately, you’ll find that most water softeners come in reasonable sizes. Even salt-based whole house water softeners, with their large mineral tank and brine tank, can fit in most homes.
In any case, if you end up needing one, hiring a general contractor will cost 20% more overall than what you will pay a plumber or electrician.
Permits and Inspections
In some cases, installing a new water softener system will require arranging for permits and inspections. This happens mostly for whole-house installations. Moreover when it may affect not just your home’s water supply, but also the neighbourhood’s water supply. Contacting water softener installers or manufacturers will help you determine if you’ll need to prepare for permit and inspection fees.
From all that we’ve discussed, you’ve hopefully come to the total cost to install the softener unit of your choice. If you have yet to decide on a unit for your home, feel free to browse our extensive articles on the best water softener units.
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