Can I Install a Water Softener Myself? October 4, 2022 09:50
The answer is probably yes! In the article below we'll outline the general installation steps and help you to understand the scope of the project. For most people with decent general handyman skills, a DIY installation is well within your grasp.
It's a Plumbing Job
The installation of a water softener is plumbing job at heart. You're going to need to cut into your main water line and connect that water line to the inlet and outlet of the water softener control valve (the softener "head"). If you've successfully accomplished plumbing jobs in the past, or if you're confident you can nail it then you will have overcome the most specialized and difficult part of the installation. While the rest of the softener installation may be unique and specialized, it's not going to be as technically demanding as the plumbing job.
More About Plumbing a Water Softener
The water softeners sold by Aquatell come equipped with a bypass valve and then what's usually called a "plumbing yoke". The yoke is the part that you will actually need to connect your pipes to. The yokes that our systems, and many other systems come with terminate in male pipe threads. So, in most cases a water softener plumbing job will be a task in marrying up your pipes to the threaded connections of the softener yoke.
Plumbing a Softener in Pex or Copper
The material of your plumbing is going to give you a hint about the degree of specialization you'll need to possess to confidently tackle the plumbing job. Copper plumbing is the classic material of choice but it is also the most challenging, typically, for the DIY plumber. To modify copper plumbing you'll need to know how to sweat copper. This is sometimes referred to as "soldering" but it's really an incorrect application of this word. Sweating copper is a process where the two pieces that you'll be connecting together are heated up and a metallic substance is melted into the joint making it water tight. It sounds easy but it's a bit of an art and requires some practice to perfect.
Pex plumbing is a semi-rigid plastic material and has become the choice in new home builds and renovations since the early 2000's. A lot of plumbers like it because it's faster to work with and cuts down on job time. DIY plumbers like it because they can create professional-quality installations without the need to sweat copper. If you have Pex plumbing you're likely looking at an easier installation than if you have copper plumbing.
The Rest of the Water Softener Connections
All of the water softener connection points are on the control valve of the softener. Above, we've outlined the connection of the raw water inlet and treated water outlet - both of which occur on the softener yoke. But there are still two other pipes that need to be connected to the control valve - the drain line and the brine line.
The water softener drain line carries waste water to drain when the softener is regenerating. On Aquatell softeners and most other brands, the drain line connector is a barbed fitting. This makes it ideal for connecting to softer plastic materials like clear vinyl tubing, which is a very popular drain line choice for DIY installations. The drain line is open ended and as such isn't under any real water pressure, so pretty much any plastic or rubber material can be used.
The last point of connection on the control valve is the brine line. The brine line is bi-directional: at some points it carries water to the brine tank where it dissolves salt, and at other points it carries brine solution from the brine tank back to the control valve. Pretty much every water softener is going to come with the hardware necessary to connect the brine line at both ends. These are typically a compression style fitting, or with other softeners it's a push-to-connect style fitting.