Water softeners are a great treatment choice for well water, which is often much harder than municipal drinking water.
If you’ve bought a water softener or you’re in your final research stages, you might be wondering how to install a soft water unit with a well.
In this guide, we’ve shared a step-by-step process for installing a water softener on a well.
Before installing a well water softener, make sure you’re prepared for the job and have plenty of room in the installation location.
Table of Contents
📊 Factors To Consider Before Installing A Well Water Softener
Before you install a water softening system on your well, you need to consider a number of factors:
Your Plumbing Experience
Water softener installation is a fairly complex process. While a good user manual should tell you exactly what you need to do to carry out the job successfully, it might be too difficult – or just unappealing – to some homeowners.
👨🔧 If you’re a fan of DIY and you enjoy a challenge – and you preferably have at least some plumbing experience – you should be fine to install a water softener yourself.
But if you’re not handy or you simply don’t want to install your water softener, you’re better off hiring a plumber.
Your Available Installation Space
A well water softener is a large, two-tank unit that takes up a significant amount of vertical space. Not only will you need room for the unit to sit, but you’ll also need space around the unit to easily perform maintenance and repairs.
Measure your available space in the most suitable installation location and make sure there’s plenty of room before you even buy a water softener.
A few possible places to install a well water softener are:
- A basement
- A garage
- A utility room
- A crawl space (if there’s room)
📌 Most conventional water softeners use electricity, so the install location should be relatively close to a power outlet. You’ll also need to make sure the softener is at least 20 feet away from a drain, such as a floor drain, a standpipe, or a laundry tub.
Some modern homes have a “water softener loop” – a special part of the plumbing system that’s designed for easy water softener installation. If your home has a water softener loop, install your softener here.
Still need to decide on a system? Read our reviews of the best water softening systems for homes on well water
Your Tools & Parts
Most well water softener installations require tools like pipe cutters and screwdrivers. Check out step 1 of the installation process below to see what you generally need to install a well water softener, and make sure to buy or borrow these tools before you get started.
Plus, you might need extra parts like tubing and bypass valves, which aren’t always included with the water softener itself. Check your user manual to see if there are any other parts that you’ll need to buy before you can start the installation.
📖 How to Install a Water Softener With a Well: Step-By-Step
To install a salt-based water softener on your well, follow these steps.
Step 1: Gather Your Tools & Supplies
Start by gathering the tools and supplies you’ll need for the water softener installation.
Different water softeners come with different parts, so check your user manual to see exactly what you need. We’ve shared the tools and parts you’ll probably need below.
- Pipe cutter
- Plumber’s tape
- Slip joint pliers
- A tape measure
- A bucket
- Torch and solder
- Copper/flexible tubing
- Drain tubing
- Valves and tees
- Pipe fittings and adaptors
- Air gap fitting
You will also need the water softener system itself, out of its box, and ready to go. Most water softeners are pre-loaded with resin, so you’ll just need to screw the control head on the resin tank, then add salt to the brine tank after the install.
Step 2: Shut Off Your Water Supply & Hot Water Heater
Switch off your main water supply to prevent leaks during the installation. You should find the valve inside your home, near your water meter, just after the main water pipe enters. Turn the valve to close off the water.
Drain the remaining water in the hot and cold water line by switching on your hot and cold faucets.
If you have an electric water heater, you should also turn it off now as a precaution.
Step 3: Cut Your Water Line
Measure and mark a section of the pipe in the install location, then use a hack saw or pipe cutter to cut the marked section.
Make sure to place a bucket beneath the cut section of the pipe to catch leaks.
Remove dust with a lint-free cloth and sand the pipe ends, ready for the next step.
Step 4: Install Bypass Valve
To divert water away from the softener unit, you’ll need a bypass valve.
To install the bypass, push the valve into the softener valve until you hear it click.
Most water softeners nowadays have a built-in bypass.
Step 5: Connect Inlet & Outlet Ports
Next, connect the inlet and outlet ports to the inlet and outlet sides of your water softener unit. Make sure you put the right ports in the right sides so that water flows in the right direction through the system.
Seal the connections with plumber’s tape.
Step 6: Connect Drain Line
To send wastewater out of the water softener unit during the regeneration process, you need to install a drain line.
Connect the drain hose to the drain valve, then attach flexible tubing to the control valve and the brine tank. Secure the drain hose with clamps and position it over a drain.
Step 7: Attach Overflow Connection
Now you can install the softener overflow tube.
This tube prevents the brine tank from overflowing. Locate the hose install location and attach it in place with hose clamps.
The overflow tube should also be positioned over a drain, so water can flow freely into the drain on the occasion of an overflowing tank.
Step 8: Connect Brine Line
The final tubing to connect in your soft water unit is the brine line.
This tubing connects the brine tank and the resin tank in a side-by-side unit. Follow the instructions in the user manual to install the brine line.
Step 9: Plug In & Program The Softener
Your softener is now plumbed into your water line. Plug it into a nearby power outlet and wait for it to switch on.
The control valve should by now be attached to the top of the resin (mineral) tank. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to program the softener on the control head to perform the right water treatment for your water hardness and daily water usage.
Add water softener salt to the brine tank until you reach the fill line.
Step 10: Check For Leaks
Slowly open your main water supply valve, then open a nearby faucet. Wait for water to flow through the system, and check around the fittings for leaks.
If you notice a leak, shut off the water and tighten the fittings or use more plumber’s tape to form a seal. Open your water valve again. If and when no leaks are detected, your softener is ready for use.
You can now drink softened water and use soft water in your household water systems.
Step 11 (Optional): Test Your Water
The best way to measure the performance of your newly installed well water softener is to test your water.
First, take a sample of well water that HASN’T been softened by your softener unit (such as water from your outside tap).
Then, take a sample of soft water from an inside faucet.
Use an at-home water hardness test kit on each water sample. Compare. The water from your inside faucet should now be significantly softer than your normal well water from the outside faucet.
You could also test your water hardness by testing its lather with detergent or soap products. Soft water lathers better with soap than hard water.
❔ How to Install a Water Softener With a Well: FAQ
Where do you put the water softener at with a well?
The location for a water softener on a well is as close as possible to water’s entry point into your home, just after the pressure tank. Make sure the softener is installed upstream of your water heater to ensure you have access to both hot and cold softened water in your home.
Should you install a water softener before or after a well pressure tank?
You should install a water softener after, or downstream of, a well pressure tank. Why? Because if you installed the water softener before the pressure tank, it wouldn’t receive a steady supply of water because water would only flow through the unit while the pump was operating. Plus, installing a well water softener after the pressure tank prevents the risk of water flowing back through the softener’s outlet port and reduces the likelihood of the well pump short-cycling due to the reduced flow caused by the softener.
Should you install a water softener before or after a well water filtration system?
You should install a water softener BEFORE a whole house well water filtration system if your biggest water quality issue is hard water. Install a softener AFTER a whole house water filter if your water contains high levels of sediment, iron, or chlorine, which could damage the softening resin.