Water Softener

Installing Water Softener

Hard water can be a real nuisance.  It leaves scaly deposits called limescale around faucets, making the sink areas in our kitchens and bathrooms unsightly.  Limescale also causes blockages in plumbing, which may cause the deterioration of the toilets' flushing capacity and ruin water heaters.  Hard water could also leave deposits on the insides of our teapots, which means we would have to descale them on a regular basis.  Hard water can also damage our hair even after shampooing.  This is because the residue builds up in our scalp and hair, making it rough and difficult to untangle.

What is hard water?

Some places are more prone to hard water compared to others.  Hard water is normal water, except for the fact that it has a high mineral content.  It contains magnesium metal cations and primarily calcium, but can sometimes also contain compounds such as sulphates and bicarbonates.  Calcium enters the water in the form of chalk, limestone or any other mineral deposits. 

How can you tell if the water you are using is hard water?

The easiest way to find out if you have a hard water problem in your home is to check your kitchen sink and bathroom areas after all the water has dried up from use of the faucets or showers.  If you spot thin films of scaly deposits around these areas, then you most likely have been using hard water.  The formation of limescale from hard water is also called calcification. 

Another simple way to tell if you are using hard water is the froth/lather test.  Hard water reduces the ability of soaps or soap products to lather up.  So if you try to wash your hands with water and a normal soap and your hand refuses to lather up properly, then that means you had been using hard water.

If you are aware that you have a hard water problem at home, it is best to take care of this early on.  This is so you can avoid costly maintenance repairs to damaged plumbing it may cause in the future.  Not to mention damage to your hair, skin or unsightly water/limescale marks on your cutlery, kitchen sinks and bathrooms.

How does a water softener help?

Water softeners are appliance systems that convert the magnesium and calcium ions in hard water into sodium ions.  Doing this makes the water soft.  As hard water enters the appliance's resin tank, the sodium ions will switch places with the magnesium and calcium ions in the water.  The calcium and magnesium ions will then enter the brine (salt) tank.

Before choosing a water softening system, make sure that you first have your water tested for hardness and find out how much water you use on a daily basis.

Choosing the location for water softener installation

It is advisable to choose a location in which to install your water softener as close to the main water line as possible, making sure there is a drain and an electrical outlet close by.  You must also ensure that the water softener and the water heater is separated by at least 10 feet of piping.  The location you must choose should also be level, dry and does not get hit directly by sunlight.  The area should also be consistently above freezing.

Installing the water softening system

Before you begin installation of the water softener, you must first drain the pipelines of water.  Do this by shutting off the main water supply with the use of a curb key.  Then drain the water from the house by leaving the faucets on at the lowest and highest points of the house until the water runs out.

You must then shut off the water heater valve, as well as turn off the power to the water heater.  Turn the control to "Pilot" if you are using a gas heater.

Next, you will then need to connect a new water line into the existing line.  Do this by loosening the union of the water line using two pipe wrenches, in order to tap into the existing line.

To allow water to go into the water softener or bypass it completely, you will need to install a remote bypass system of pipes.  To create a bypass line, a short pipe will need to be connected to the service line and the feed-line pipe.  In the tank's female adaptor, insert a male adaptor and install a union at the end of it. 

You can then apply flux to the pipe ends and connect these fittings to the pipes.

After all the above are done, you may now be able to turn the main water supply back on, as well as the valve and power to the water heater.  Check the areas you have worked on for any possible leakages. 

The barbed fitting, which can be found behind the controls of the tank, should be removed in order to install the drain.  Before you re-attach the barbed fitting, you must first apply Teflon tape to the threads.  Then you will need to attach a half-inch drain tube to the pipe.  Continue the drain line until the drain is reached. 

To begin installing the brine line, first take the lid off the tank.  Then through the hole on the inside of the tank, insert the tube.  At the end of the tube, attach the compression fitting and connect the safety valve.  Connect the resin tank to the brine tank, attach another compression fitting to the other end of the tube and connect it to the intake.  Put the lid back on, afterwards. 

A drain tube must be connected to the overflow valve, located on the brine tank's side.  Run the tube towards the drain.

You can then turn on the system, shut the bypass off and then release the valve that goes into the system.  After you have ensured there are no leaks, you can then open up the service valve.

Lastly, you may now add salt into the brine tank.  Make sure that the salt level is maintained just below the top of the well.