How much should a water softener cost? Good question and as usual, the answer is: it depends. Water softeners can generally cost anywhere from $300 to $4000, depending on the type and quality of the water softener as well as installation costs.
Another thing to include in the cost is the installation: this cost will vary depending on the contractor, the softener being installed, and the condition and accessibility of your home. For instance, homeowners can pay anywhere from $400 for a DIY installation, to $4,000 for a professional.
Don't be alarmed at these costs! Purchasing a softener system is an investment that will protect your home from hard water headaches for 15 - 20 years.
How much is a whole house water softener?
In addition to the factors previously mentioned, when purchasing a water softener, consider these:
Size of softener
What size of water softener do you need? Take into account how much water needs to be softened (based on the size of your family), how large your home is, and your water usage. You will see that softener capacity is measured in grains per gallon (GPG).
Pre and/or post-filtration or treatment may be recommended to adequately treat your water if it contains additional minerals such as iron, chlorine, etc. A water softener installation often includes a pre-filter to address chlorine or chloramine concerns and reverse osmosis filter under the kitchen sink that provides clean water for drinking and cooking.
Quality of Softener components
There is a wide range in the quality of components used to manufacture a water softener system. This is why it's essential to do your research before purchasing.
Type of Valve
The valve of a softener controls the entire system. A quality valve will ensure you have continual soft water when you need it. There are 2 types of valves: Timed and Metered. A basic Timed valve operates on a timer, which is more likely to be inefficient and wastes water. A programmable Metered valve operates based on water usage and is much more efficient and more environmentally friendly.
Types of Water Softeners
There are four different types of water softeners: ion-exchangers (salt-based), salt-free, dualtank and magnetic.
Salt-based ion exchange water softening systems are the most reliable, common, and affordable type of water softeners available. While it may sound desirable to avoid the use of salt, salt-free systems can only mask the damage that hard water eventually causes. Salt-based water softening systems will pay for themselves time and time again.
Basically, a salt-based water softener works to remove high concentrations of calcium and magnesium from water through a process called “ion exchange.” This process “softens” hard water by substituting the hardness minerals (calcium and magnesium) with sodium chloride (salt).
The device may cost from anywhere from $400 to $3000 dollars, depending on the size of your household is.
Additional Costs: Always keep in mind that you need to include the price of installation and transport, as well. Plus, changing the salt for the brine tank will also incur additional costs. The average price of a standard 40 pounds (18 kg) bag of salt, enabling the smooth operation of the brine tank, is between $5 - $25.
Salt-free water conditioners use a medium other than sodium (typically potassium), which preferred for people on low-sodium diets. It’s important to note that while potassium is more friendly to the environment and specific dietary needs, it is substantially more expensive than sodium.
The mechanisms of a salt-free softener work not by removing calcium and magnesium, but by suspending those ions and preventing them from building up in the first place. However, this doesn't keep the ions from settling when water sits still, for example, your hot water tank.
You can find a wide range of types of this system on the market, which cost from $400 to$ 4000 dollars. Again, the wide range is price dependent on the manufacture, softener capacity needed, water hardness level, etc.
Additional Costs: On the other hand, one of the benefits is that there is no extra cost for additional bags of salt! You will only need to pay for the system itself, shipping, installation, and the occasional filter change.
A dual tank water softener has two mineral tanks and is ideal for residential applications with extremely hard water. It's especially useful in homes with large families, or where the downtime of regeneration is an issue. While one tank is down for cleaning, the second tank is activated to ensure an uninterrupted supply of softened water is available.
Dual tank softeners cost from $1000 to $2,000. As you can expect, the starting price for this water softener system will be slightly higher. The cheapest one, which you can find on the market, will cost at least $1000.
It works using the same principle as an Ion water exchange softener. The only difference is in two tanks of purified water, ensuring the necessary soft water for your family at any time. Therefore, you should install this particular system if you have a big household.
Additional Costs: Costs will be similar to the salt-based water softener, eg. salt.
The newest type of water softener on the market is the magnetic, or electronic water softener. This is a plug-in device that attaches to your existing pipes. According to manufacturer claims, the magnetic field produced by the device reverses the charge of the ions causing them to resist clinging to the pipe and each other, thus preventing build-up.
Magnetic/electronic water softeners cost around $200 but have mixed reviews. It's controversy is based on water-testing associations who have perform studies to prove its ineffectiveness. Regardless, if you decide to invest in a magnetic water softener, make sure to research the product and manufacturer before purchasing. The price will depend on the manufacturer, size of the unit, and used materials. Before buying one, make sure to determine precisely how much water you use in gallons (liters) per month. That way, you can pick out the best option for your household.
Most experts consider magnetic softeners pseudoscientific, but many users enjoy its simplicity. The principle of the technology is not complicated at all. The system attaches 2 magnets from both sides of the water pipe, and they will change the ionic composition of the minerals in the water.
Even though the calcium and magnesium will still be present in the water, the water deposits won’t stick on the surface after the process finishes. The advantage of this particular device is that it removes harmless chemicals from water your family uses. Plus, you can easily install the system by yourself!
How much does it cost to install a water softener?
Some water treatment specialists will include installation with the cost of a softener purchase. The price may be less if your home is pre-plumbed for a softener, or more if your home is older and installation will be complicated and time-consuming.
If you are handy with tools and comfortable with written instructions, a water softener can be installed utilizing the do-it-yourself (DIY) method. Nevertheless, because of the nature of do-it-yourself projects, it’s best to have a professional install your softener due to the number of problems that can arise if additional plumbing issues occur. Installation can cost anywhere from $400 (DIY) to $4000 for a professional installation.
Complexity of the job depending on the home's location
Purchasing a water softener is a serious decision, yes it is an investment but water is just better for your home when it's softened. It makes your skin and hair softer, and it helps soap and detergents to clean and lather better. On the contrary, hard water makes washing clothes more difficult and stains your countertops and showers. Even if you can live with those inconveniences, hard water isn’t safe for your home; clogged plumbing and appliance replacement isn’t cheap.
A water softener can save you more in the long run by removing the harmful abrasives found in water--softening the impact on your wallet, as well as on your home. Learn more about water softeners at Aquatell today! Contact a water specialist near you.