Don’t have the space to install your water softener indoors? You’re probably considering outdoor installation.
In this guide, we’ve answered the common question, “Can a water softener be installed outside?”
📌 Key Takeaways:
- Water softener systems can be installed outside – but only if certain conditions are met.
- A water softener installed outside should be protected against UV rays from direct sunlight and insulated against freezing temperatures.
- Build an insulating box around the softener or buy a protective cover that acts as a barrier against rain, ultraviolet rays, and other elements.
Table of Contents
🔩 Can A Water Softener Be Installed Outside?
If you check a water softener’s product details, you’ll probably see a warning from the manufacturer that says the softener isn’t suitable for outdoor installation.
However, this doesn’t mean that the water softener can’t be installed outside.
What it does mean is that in its current form, the softener isn’t designed to withstand the elements, including rain, direct sunlight, and freezing air.
But you can still install a water softener outdoors as long as you’re happy to make the necessary arrangements to shelter, insulate, and protect the system.
Read our expert recommendations for the best outdoor water softeners.
📈 What Are The Issues With Installing A Water Softener Outside?
The main issues with installing a water softener outdoors are:
Freezing is the biggest potential cause of damage in an outdoor softener.
The media tank containing the resin beads is usually made from fiberglass, which isn’t insulating. Freezing temperatures will cause the water to freeze inside the softener, cutting off your whole house water supply and potentially damaging the distribution tube (a thick plastic tube inside the resin tank).
Learn more about the best ways to keep your water softener from freezing.
Installing a water softener in a spot that gets direct exposure to sunlight is another issue.
UV exposure may weaken the bonds in the resin bed and cause plastic components to become brittle, increasing their likelihood of breaking.
Finally, temperature changes are known to have an effect on the performance and longevity of your outdoor water softener.
Many regions see fluctuations in temperature from day to night. Sudden temperature changes could decrease the durability of the materials used in the softener’s design, shortening their lifespans.
📖 How To Make A Water Softener Suitable For Outdoor Installation
To make a household water softener suitable for outdoor installation, here’s what to do:
Install The Softener in a Shed
If possible, install your water softener in a shed that’s close to your house’s water supply line. Even a poorly insulated shed should hold enough heat to prevent freezing in most regions (this may not apply if you live in a region with long, cold winters).
Optionally, install a water heater near to the softener and set it on a very low heat. This should prevent freezing.
Bury The Softener Underground
You could also install your water softener partially underground. Burying the system reduces exposure to the elements, and the ground acts as natural insulation against freezing.
You can bury both the resin and brine tanks, with the water softeners’ control valve poking out of the ground.
Protect The Softener With An Enclosure
Another option is to buy or build an outdoor enclosure to shelter your water softener from rain, sunlight, and snow, and hold enough heat to prevent freezing.
There are plastic and metal cabinets available to buy online. Alternatively, make your own cabinet out of wood and an insulating material, like mineral wool or fiberglass.
Use A Water Softener Cover
In regions that don’t have freezing winters, using a water softener cover may provide enough protection against the elements.
Many manufacturers offer water softener covers, usually made from waterproof polyurethane or canvas, as optional add-ons for customers who want to protect the resin and extend the softener’s lifespan.
Protect The Power Cord
Also consider the power cord at the outlet connection. Getting water in this cord might stop the softener from working, and it could also pose a fire hazard.
👨🔧 You won’t be covered by the warranty if your power cord is damaged by rain, snow, or other environmental elements, so make sure you protect it with its own weatherproof shelter.
📑 Other Considerations
There are a few other considerations when installing a water softener outside:
Space & Accessibility
Your water softener should be installed in a dedicated outdoor space that’s easy to access. You need enough space to install a water softener and easily perform maintenance tasks.
Make sure there’s plenty of room to regularly add softener salt to the brine tank.
Close To The POE
Your outdoor water softener should also be installed as close as possible to the main water pipe’s entry into your home. Usually, this is near to your water meter (if you’re on a city water supply) or the pressure tank (if you get your water from a private well).
The further away from the POE, the more plumbing you’ll need, so it makes sense to install the softener as close as you can to this main water pipe.
Related: Residential Water Softener Installation Diagram
Most water softeners use electricity, so you’ll need to install the softener close to a power source.
Make sure all electrics are protected against freezing, rain, and other dangerous weather conditions.
When a water softener regenerates, captured minerals are flushed out of the media tank with brine solution.
This drain water should be directed to a nearby outdoor drain using the softener drain line.
🚫 When CAN’T A Water Softener Be Installed Outside?
There are a few occasions when outdoor installations simply aren’t possible for salt-based water softeners.
The main reason is weather. Water softeners work best at temperatures between 35 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit, so some states with extremely harsh winters with freezing temperatures for months on end don’t provide the ideal climate for outdoor water softener installation. Even with an insulating enclosure, the temperature in the water softeners tank might drop low enough for the resin to freeze, affecting its ability to soften water.
Your outdoor climate may reduce your softener’s lifespan even if you take measures to make your softener suitable for installing outside. Keep that in mind if you’re still deciding between outdoor and indoor installation.
❔ Can A Water Softener Be Installed Outside? FAQ
Is it OK to install water softener outside?
Yes, it’s usually okay to install water softeners outside. However, make sure you prepare for outside installation by protecting your unit from ice, rain, and ultraviolet light. Look at outdoor water softener enclosures or consider building your own enclosure to shelter and insulate the softener.
Is there a law against installing water softeners outside?
No, there are no current laws against outdoor installations of water softener systems. However, some states have restricted or banned the use of softeners, so check your local regulations if you’re still looking at systems to buy.
Can a Rheem water softener be installed outside?
Yes, a Rheem water softener can be installed outside as long as the unit is protected from environmental elements (wind, rain, cold temperatures, etc.). The manufacturer recommends constructing a cover or a shelter to sit around the softener brine tank and media tank, as well as a shelter for the power cord at the outlet connection.
Can I bury my water softener?
Yes, you can bury your water softener – and many folks do this instead of buying an insulating enclosure since the ground itself acts as insulation against freezing. You don’t need to bury the brine tank – its salt content makes it highly unlikely to freeze. However, the resin (media) tank should be buried since a frozen media tank will stop the entire softener from working.
Can you put water softener salt outside?
Yes, you can put salt for water softeners outside. Just make sure the salt bags are stored in a location that’s sheltered from rain and other elements that could contaminate the salt or alter its form. Also, keep the salt away from outdoor locations that get hot and humid in warmer climates.