A water softener is a big help for those who reside in areas with hard water, and it is their main water supply. A water softener is very beneficial because it removes unwanted minerals from the water. It makes the main water supply much kinder and gentler to bodies, hair, pipes, appliances, and much more.
Hard water is water that contains a lot of minerals. This is more than just a pesky nuisance. It may cause buildup in pipes and faucets, stain your sink and other things you wash, minimize the cleaning power of your detergent, and shorten the lifespan of your water heater and various other appliances. More than that, hard water can affect your health and well-being. It is neither safe nor kind to you, your family, or your surroundings.
If the water supply in your area provides you with hard water in your home, a water softener can surely protect your household’s plumbing system, your appliances, and your bodies, among other things. But for your water softening system to do all that and serve its purpose of making your hard water soft, it has to be installed properly.
The upside is that you needn’t be a plumber or a professional to install a water softening system. The important thing is that you should be equipped with the tools and knowledge needed. The knowledge we are talking about includes the right location to do your installation — which many people have in their property’s garage.
This is where we come in! Read on to learn how to install a water softener in the garage all by yourself.
Understanding Your Water Supply
So you have made a choice to install a water softener to be able to take action regarding the hard water problems plaguing your household. That’s great! But before you get the installation process going, first and foremost, you have to do this: Understand your water supply.
To truly understand your water supply, you have to:
- Know what your water contains
- Consider the needs of your household
This information is vital for you to accurately determine the type and size of water softener needed to treat your hard water and accommodate your household’s lifestyle.
The physical size of your water softener will influence the space you will need when it comes to installation. The appropriate size is determined by water treatment professionals based on these factors:
Flow rate is an important factor to consider to ensure that your household will not run out of supply of softened water. Flow rate is measured via gallons per minute or GPM. What determines it is the appliances and fixtures in the home that may all be used simultaneously.
If you do not take flow rate into consideration as you install your water softening system and your system is not big enough for your needs, you might find yourself experiencing decreased water pressure. When this happens, hardness will get past your system.
Did you know that the USGS or United States Geological Survey says that the average person consumes about 80 to 100 gallons of water each day? Are you surprised? Well! Think about each time you shower, run the faucets, flush the toilets, do the laundry, clean the car, and more. You may not realize it, but you easily consume a huge amount of water in your day-to-day life. So, to accurately size your softener, you have to multiply the number of gallons per member of the household by the number of members.
Hardness Of Your Water
The hardness of water is determined by how much dissolved calcium and magnesium can be found in your water. It is measured via grains per gallon or GPG. This will help you figure out the amount of media you need in your water softener for it to effectively be able to remove hardness. The bigger your system, the larger amount of media it will be able to hold, which equates to more hardness that it can remove. To accurately determine your water’s hardness, consult a water treatment professional.
Prime Locations For Your Water Softener
There are some general conditions that make for an ideal location to install your water softener. These are:
- The ground should be level and near the water source’s point of entry to your house. If your house utilizes well water, then the entry point is beside the pressure tank. If your water source is city water, then the entry point is beside the water meter.
- A power source and a drain should be nearby.
- There should be ample space to be able to accommodate the equipment size.
- Some warmer locations can make for good enough conditions for the water softener to be installed outside — but make sure it is in a place where it is not in direct sunlight, and the temperature should never go below freezing.
- The ideal temperature of your chosen location should be in the vicinity of 35 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
Here are a few common locations for water softener installation:
Many people opt to install their system in the basement. They do it to utilize a full basement that typically has ample space to accommodate a water softening system of any size, along with other water treating equipment such as the home’s water heater. Homeowners may find it favorable to keep all water treatment equipment centralized.
2. Crawl Space
Some homes have crawl spaces that can fit water softeners, but the system’s size may be limited depending on available space. If you choose this location, ensure that everything fits comfortably and you have easy access to it because you need to refill the water softener salt regularly.
3. Utility Room
Homeowners who do not have basements or garages or large enough crawl spaces can install their water softeners in their utility rooms. Note that these rooms are often small. Hence, creativity should be exercised to maximize the available space. You also need to exert a little extra effort to make a drain for your system.
A great option for those who do not have basements or roomy crawl spaces is the garage. A garage will generally have enough space, and it is more convenient because you can also store softener salt nearer to your system. There are times when you may need additional plumbing, and you have to ensure that your garage is temperature-regulated to remain within the ideal temp for proper functionality.
Considering Water Loops
A water loop is basically something that keeps softened water in the house. It directs the softer water to faucets and appliances like water heaters. It also keeps softened water from going outside to your hose and outdoor faucets. This is essential for many reasons, one of the biggest being water conservation.
If your home comes with a water loop already pre-installed, this is ideal for DIY water softener installation because it means installation will take a shorter time and require a minimal level of expertise. If your home does not come with a water loop, you will need to install new pipes to divert water from your main water line when it goes inside your home. The water softener will then be connected to this additional line.
Note that if your home does have a water loop already, it will most likely be located in the garage.
Installing a Water Softener in The Garage By Yourself
All things considered: space, practicality, storage, temperature, and the aforementioned water loop – one of the ideal places to install a water softener is in your garage. Check out our guide on how to install water softener in garage by yourself!
For Homes That Come Equipped With A Water Loop
Determine the water softener size that is ideal for your home. After this, gather the tools you’ll need:
- Soldering iron kit
- Measuring tape
- Pipe cutters
- Teflon tape
- Flexible tubing
- Elbow fitting
- Copper pipe
- Fittings or adapters that come with the water softener
Once you gather all the tools you need, follow these simple steps:
- Shut off your water supply. Locate the main water shut-off valve in your home and then activate it. As an extra precaution, turn on one or more faucets to let existing water remaining in your pipes to be drained out.
- Switch off your water heater’s electricity if applicable. Disconnect the power by switching off the breaker.
- Use the pipe cutter to remove the connecting part of your home’s water loop. These will leave you with two pipes that stick out from the wall – one will funnel untreated water to the softener, and the other will funnel the treated water towards your appliances.
- Get an elbow fitting and attach it to one end of your main water line, which is now separated. Make sure the elbow fitting faces whatever the direction of your inflow and outflow water softener valves.
- Use a measuring tape to assess how much pipe you will need in order to bridge the gap between your water softener valves and your elbow fitting.
- Cut off the pipe to the length that you will need.
- Before you attach the pipe, solder the fittings needed for connecting the pipe to the bypass valve.
- Once all this is done, connect the pipe.
- Next, configure both the water softener’s drain hose and its brine tank. You can use a clamp at the onset of the drain hose as this will keep water from flowing back. The other end can lead to a floor drain or utility sink.
- Connect the overflow tube of your water softener to its brine tank.
- Finally, flip the bypass valve to “active” and then reactivate the water supply of your household. This will flush most of the buildup sediments out of the plumbing.
After all this is done, your water softener can now be activated. Set it to “backwash.” Deactivate the bypass valve and then consult the owner’s manual for what the next steps will be.
For Homes That Do Not Come With A Water Loop
The steps we mentioned above will still be the basic guide for installing a water softening system. However, since your home does not come equipped with a water loop before you do all of this, you will have to have a water loop installed first.
As we mentioned before, a water loop is crucial for you to be able to conserve water. You can technically still install a water softening system without a water loop, but it will be wasteful down the road.
Common Mistakes in Water Softener Installation
Installing a water softener by yourself needs close attention to detail. Watch out for these common mistakes:
1. Relying On Several Sources
There are many different ways to install a water softener. You can choose the guide we made, which we feel is the best way to go for DIY installation. Whichever you choose, just stick to one and follow through. Switching up from one guide to the next will do more harm than good.
2. Utilizing The Wrong Connections Or Fittings
Keep in mind that most water softeners already come with the exact fittings needed for installation. Do not use any other, as the wrong fittings will lead to poor performance and leaks.
3. Choosing The Wrong Size Of Water Softener
Doing the installation by yourself means you’ll probably be sourcing the materials and equipment on your own too. Make sure that you have the right size for your space and needs.
4. Improper Placement Of Drain Hose
It is vital that you drain hose leads somewhere fit to handle the massive volume of water that will come out from it. If you place it improperly, it may shift, resulting in flooding.
Installing a water softener in the garage on your own may seem to be a challenging task but don’t fear because it is actually very manageable and doable! Just follow our guide, have keen attention to detail, be armed with the information and tools you need, and you’ll be good to go!
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