Can You Install a Water Softener in an Apartment?

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Wondering whether you can legally install a water softening system in your apartment?

Here, we’ve outlined everything we know about the rules regarding apartment softener installation, the types of softeners you should consider, and more.

📌 Key Takeaways:

  • You can install a soft water system in your apartment, but your rental agreement might prevent you from installing a conventional unit.
  • The best softener for apartment use is the portable water softener.
  • If you own an apartment, you can install any type of softener system that suits your available space and softening preferences.

🤔 Can You Install A Water Softener System In An Apartment?

You can install a water softener system in an apartment – but you may have limitations when it comes to the type and size of the system that you can install.

Our top recommended water softener for this use case is an apartment water softener.

Apartment water softeners are smaller, compact versions of the full-scale conventional ion exchange softeners. They have the advantage of being easier to install than a conventional softener, and they’re low-hassle to maintain.

An apartment softener is the best water softener system for you if your apartment has limited space, or if you rent an apartment and can’t make any permanent changes to your plumbing.

Apartment water softeners are long-term water softening solutions, but many of them are portable, meaning it’s easy to uninstall the softener and take it with you to your new apartment.

👨‍🔧 Check out our top recommended apartment water softeners in this guide to the best water softener systems for apartments.

Portable apartment water softener

📋 What To Consider When Installing A Water Softener In An Apartment

There are a few things to consider when deciding whether it’s possible to install a water softener in your apartment – and if so, which water softener you should choose.

Rental Terms (If Renting)

First, if you’re renting, you need to read your rental terms carefully before installing a water softener in your apartment.

Many rental properties have restrictions that disallow renters from making any permanent changes, such as painting the walls, changing the locks, and cutting into the plumbing system to install a water softener.

The last thing you want is to be fined – or worse, evicted – for violating the lease agreement. That’s what could end up happening if you installed a conventional whole house water softener at your plumbing, which requires removing a section of your main water pipe to install the softener. This is classed as a permanent change because if you were to remove the softener, a section of the pipe would still be missing.

That doesn’t mean you can’t install a water softener at all if you’re renting. There are one of two things you can do if you’re facing this scenario:

  1. Raise your request with your landlord and discuss why you would like to install a water softener unit, and the benefits of doing so. Support your request with data, such as the results of a hard water test of your tap water, and pictures of limescale damage on your fixtures and appliances.
  2. Install an apartment water softener. This type of portable water softener doesn’t intercept your main water line, so it’s safe to install in properties that are restricted by a rental agreement. You don’t need to ask your landlord for permission!

Available Space

Also consider the available space you have at the possible install location.

Apartments often have limited storage space, and they don’t typically have garages or basements, which are typically the location of choice for installing a water softener in a house. There needs to be enough space in your install location for you to comfortably install the softener and perform regular maintenance.

The good news is that portable water softeners designed for apartments are much smaller than conventional softeners. They consist of a single tank that’s about one-third of the length of a conventional softener tank.

Measure your available space and compare it to the tank dimensions before you spend your money, so you don’t have to deal with returns if the system ends up being too big.

Water softener installed in small space

Apartment Size

Your apartment size will also determine the type of water softener you can install.

If your apartment is fairly small and has a single bathroom, a portable water softener for apartments should be fine. Apartment water softener systems have a flow rate of around 5 GPM, which is plenty for a single-bathroom apartment on one floor.

If your apartment is larger, with multiple bathrooms and bedrooms, and spans across several floors, an apartment water softener might disrupt your water flow and cause a pressure drop.

In this case, you’ll need to look at other rental-friendly softeners that won’t affect your water pressure, such as electromagnetic water descalers (more on these below). Or, if you don’t rent, go for a traditional water softener, which has an 8-12 GPM flow rate, depending on the system size you choose.

Method Of Water Treatment

Finally, consider the methods of water treatment that are available to you based on all of the above factors.

If you’re renting, you have limited available space, and your apartment is small-to-medium in size, you’ll have a couple of water softening options:

  • Portable water softening systems
  • Electric salt-free water softeners (descalers)

Portable water softeners are salt-based water softeners that are shrunk down to be suitable for installation in small living spaces, like RVs and apartments. These are the best option for you if you want to properly soften water by exchanging calcium and magnesium minerals with sodium ions, which only a water softener can do.

If you just want to reduce scale in your home and aren’t bothered about achieving completely soft water, consider an electric descaler. Electric water softeners (or magnetic water softeners) use electromagnetic waves to alter the adhesion abilities of calcium and magnesium, preventing them from forming scale. These whole house water treatment systems are another good choice for rental apartments with limited space because they’re installed on the outside of the main water pipe and have a small footprint.

If you own your apartment, you can install whatever type of softener suits you best, although you may still be limited by space, so conventional whole house water softeners might be out of the question.

Portable water softener and electric water descaler for apartment living

📑 Final Word

You certainly can install a water softener in your apartment complex, even if you have limited room or your landlord has strict rules on the changes you can make to your living space.

You’ll probably find that the best water softener systems for your use case are portable softeners, which are compact units that fit in small spaces and don’t require a permanent installation.

Make sure you choose your apartment water softener system carefully. Read customer feedback, check expert reviews and comparison guides, and only buy a system from a trusted manufacturer that offers a warranty of some form. Even if apartment softeners are cheaper than conventional systems, you still want to make the smartest investment possible.

  • Jennifer Byrd
    Water Treatment Specialist

    For 20+ years, Jennifer has championed clean water. From navigating operations to leading sales, she's tackled diverse industry challenges. Now, at Redbird Water, she crafts personalized solutions for homes, businesses, and factories. A past Chamber President and industry advocate, Jennifer leverages her expertise in cutting-edge filtration and custom design to transform water concerns into crystal-clear solutions.

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