Residential Water Softener Installation Diagram (Image)

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Want to know about the order in which a water softener and it’s components should be installed? It’s good knowledge to have if you plan to install a water softener yourself.

You’ll find all the information you need to know in this residential water softener diagram.

📋 Residential Water Softener Design

A conventional salt-based water softener has a two-tank design. Water is softened in the resin tank, and salt is dissolved in water and replenishes the resin from the brine tank. During the ion exchange process, calcium and magnesium ions are exchanged for sodium ions, eliminating hard water.

Water softeners are installed as whole home units and are designed to soften water before it enters the hot water heater.

Residential Water Softener Installation Diagram
How a Water Softener Works

🧰 Main Components Of A Water Softener

The main components of a water softener are the brine tank, the resin tank, the control valve (or control head), and the drain line.

Brine Tank

The brine tank (the smaller, wider tank) contains the water softener salt. Salt is needed for the ion exchange process, so the brine tank should be at least 1/3 full of salt at all times.

Salt in the brine tank is dissolved in water, forming a brine solution. This brine is used to replenish the resin during the regeneration process, readying it for water softening.

Water softener resin and brine tank

Resin Tank

The resin tank (the longer, thinner tank; referred to as the mineral tank by some manufacturers), is where the water softening process takes place.

The mineral tank is loaded with a resin bed, which is made from food-grade synthetic plastic (usually a combination of polystyrene and divinylbenzene).

Water flows into this tank to be softened. The resin beads are loaded with sodium ions, and some of these are released into the water as calcium and magnesium ions stick to the resin.

Control Valve

The control valve, or control head, attaches to the top of the water softener mineral tank. This valve is responsible for managing the water softener’s performance, and may program the system to perform a regeneration cycle based on the flow of water through the valve or the amount of time that has passed.

You can use the buttons or touch screen on the control valve to adjust your water softener’s settings, including your water hardness and regeneration frequency. Some control valves have Bluetooth connection that allows you to monitor and control your water softener use from a phone app.

Water softener control valve showing water softening time

📑 Other Components Of A Water Softener

The other parts of a water softener system include the water inlet and outlet, the drain line, the bypass valve, the riser tube, and the brine float valve.

Water Inlet & Outlet

The water inlet and outlet are the pipes that send water into and out of the softener.

Water from your incoming water supply travels through the water inlet and into the softening tank. Soft water leaves the tank from the outlet pipe.

This happens at a constant rate, with water flowing in and out of the softener, when a faucet or appliance is in use in your home, providing a consistent soft water supply whenever it’s needed.

Drain Line

The drain line or drain hose sends wastewater out of the softener through a drain pipe during a complete backwash cycle.

The drain water may be sent into one of several types of drains, including a floor drain, a laundry tray, or a properly trapped special outlet.

There are actually two drain tubes in a water softener: one section of drain tubing is attached to the control valve and deals with the discharge wastewater; and the other drain serves as an overflow drain and is used in emergencies if the brine tank overflows.

Water softener drain line

Bypass Valve

The bypass valve is a built-in valve that lets you divert water away from the softener during maintenance or repairs. You can adjust the valve by twisting a knob or a lever.

When the bypass position is in service position, water will flow into the softener. When the valve is engaged, it’ll send water away from the softener. Your plumbing will be supplied with untreated water, not softened water, until you put the softener back in service mode.

Riser Tube & Basket

The riser tube and basket are located inside the resin tank, running vertically down the middle.

You don’t need to worry about these parts when you install a water softener because the resin tank will be pre-loaded and ready to go. But if you ever need to replace the resin, you’ll probably need to replace the riser tube and basket too.

Brine Float Valve

The brine float valve is one of the safety features of a water softener.

Located in the salt tank, the float valve (or safety float) prevents water from overflowing out of the tank by shutting off the system if too much water is added.

Water softener control float

Additional Parts & Accessories

There are a few other parts and accessories that you’ll find in a water softener, including the valves, fittings, adapters, tubing, salt grid plate, air check, and injector.

Most of these parts are essential in any water softener, but some, like the adapters, may only be needed for certain plumbing setups.

🆙 Optional Add-Ons For A Water Softener

There are a few optional add-ons that you might consider buying alongside a water softener:

Sediment Filters

Most water softeners come with included sediment pre-filters, but they’re an optional component that you may or may not need.

A typical water softener sediment pre-filter traps large particles in a filter cartridge, preventing them from getting into the softener and damaging the resin.

If you have a private well water supply or you just want to maintain your softener’s performance for as long as possible, we recommend installing (and replacing when necessary) a sediment filter upstream of your softener.

Whole Home Water Filtration System

Water softeners tackle one of the biggest water quality issues: hard water. But they’re not designed to filter your water, improve its safety or health properties, or make it taste better.

You might want to buy a whole home water filtration system to install alongside your softening system at the main water supply line. Some water softener companies sell softener and filtration system combos at a lower total cost as an incentive.

Springwell Water Filter and Salt Based Water Softener System combo water treatment system
  • Brian Campbell
    President & CEO, CWS, CWR

    Brian Campbell, a WQA Certified Water Specialist (CWS) and Certified Water Treatment Representative (CWR) with 5+ years of experience, helps homeowners navigate the world of water treatment. After honing his skills at Hach Company, he founded his business to empower homeowners with the knowledge and tools to achieve safe, healthy water. Brian's tested countless devices, from simple pitchers to complex systems, helping his readers find the perfect fit for their unique needs.

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