Is Your Home Ready for a Water Softener?

Dina Cheney
Written by Dina Cheney
Updated October 5, 2021
A woman filling a glass with tap water
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Pre-plumb your home for a water softening system

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Hard water—or, water with calcium or magnesium—can cause a lot of problems in your home. In addition to drying out skin and hair, it can clog and shorten the lifespans of water-using appliances, like dishwashers, washers, water heaters, toilets, and faucets. Plus, hard water can leave mineral deposits behind, as with scale on tubs or spots on dishes.

To remove or neutralize the minerals in your water, you’ll need to install a water softening system. Before doing so, though, it’s wise to make sure your home is pre-plumbed. Read on to learn what’s involved.

What a Pre-Plumbed Home Requires

You need to soften only water circulating inside your home. To separate out and only soften water coming into your home, you’ll need to install a water softener loop, plus a drain (for pipe discharge) and an electrical outlet.

This pre-plumbed pipe setup must be near your main water supply line and eventually connect your interior water distribution pipes to your water softening system. 

Once you install this loop, you’ll be able to put in a softener to improve the longevity of your appliances and protect your interior faucets and water lines.

See if You Have a Loop Setup

If you built your home recently, there’s a good chance your builder installed a soft water loop setup. If you’re building a home currently, make sure your plumber installs such a loop. To determine whether your home has this feature, check your garage, mechanical room or utility closet, and your home’s exterior walls.

Then, look for a horseshoe-shaped tube, which should come out of the pipes in the wall or arise from the pipes under the floor. The loop might be covered and taped in black insulation. Underneath, you should see a white PVC pipe stub emerging from the wall and an electrical outlet nearby.

Pre-Plumb Your Home

Close-up of a shower head dropping water
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If you don’t already have a loop, install one near your main water supply line. The job should cost $600–$2,000 on average, depending on whether any pipes need to be re-routed and how far the loop will sit from your existing plumbing.

Install a Water Softening System

Once your home is pre-plumbed, you can install a water softening system. If installing such a system for the first time, you’ll need to hire a plumber to cut existing lines and install new connections. 

In terms of costs, expect to pay $1500 on average for a water softening system, including installation. On the lowest end, you might be able to spend as little as $500. For a larger system, you could invest as much as $6000 or more.

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