How Much Does Water Softener Installation Cost? (DIY vs Pro)

Buying a water softener doesn’t only involve paying for the system itself. Most people choose to get their water softener system installed by a professional, which adds an extra few hundred dollars onto the upfront bill.

Even if you choose to install a water softener yourself, you’ll likely have to pay for parts and tools to install the system.

TL;DR

If you want to know the cost of a water softener installation without all the nitty-gritty, here’s the quick answer: professional installation costs $150 to $450, and DIY installation costs as little as $50.

Let’s look at the average water softener system cost, factors affecting the installation cost, and more.

🧰 Average Cost of Professional Water Softener Installation

For many people, the risk of damaging their plumbing system by attempting to install a water softener themselves just isn’t worth it.

The average cost of hiring a professional handyman or plumber to install your water softener is $250.

Some professionals charge a set rate for installation, while others charge by the hour.

We strongly recommend asking for quotes from at least three separate plumbers or handymen before choosing somebody. This will help you get the best value for money.

Be wary of “professionals” who charge an unbelievably low rate to install a water softener in your home. There’s probably a catch. Paying slightly more money for a reputable handyman is better than paying less for somebody who doesn’t know what they’re doing.

Pro versus diy water softener installation

🪛 Average Cost of DIY Water Softener Installation

If you don’t want to spend extra cash on getting a water softener installed professionally, consider installing the system yourself.

The average cost of installing a water softening system yourself is $50-$150.

You might spend more than this on installation, or you might spend nothing at all. It just depends on your situation.

For instance, you might have all the tools and supplies you need to install your water softener immediately.

In most cases, however, there are extra items that you won’t be able to install your water softener without. The cost of installing your softener depends on the cost of the items you need.

📰 Factors Affecting Water Softener Installation Cost

Let’s take a look at some of the biggest factors affecting the cost to install water softeners.

The Complexity of Installation

If you’ve hired a professional to install your water softener system, they’ll charge more money for a long, complex installation that takes up more of their time.

There are several reasons why installing your water softening system might be more complex, including the size and design of the system itself (e.g. it has multiple mineral tanks rather than a single mineral and brine tank), and the design of your home’s plumbing system.

Hooking water softener drain pipe to sewage connection

Your Location

If you hire a professional, your region will also play a big part in the overall water softener cost for installation. Some regions have more local competition than others, and some regions have a greater need for water softeners.

Plus, some regions, such as cities and urban areas, have a higher cost of living, so professionals will charge more to accommodate for this. If you want to find out the average cost of water softener installation in your local area, ask for quotes from at least three professionals.

The Parts & Equipment Needed

Some water softeners come with everything they need for a quick, easy installation. Unfortunately, this is pretty rare.

At best, you can hope that the water softener system you choose comes with an optional DIY installation kit, offered at an extra cost. At worst, it might be your job to go out and source all the fittings, pipes, adaptors, and connections you need from your local hardware store.

The more additional supplies and equipment you need (including tools), the more money you’ll spend on installation.

Water softener installation parts

The Type of System

The type of water softener system you buy ties into the complexity of installation.

Some water softeners have two tanks, while others have one, and some have three. Alternative water softeners, such as electronic descalers, don’t even need hooking up to plumbing systems – they just sit outside your water line.

The more parts there are to your water softening system, the more time it’ll take to install it. And time equals money.

Whether Old Equipment Needs Removing

In some cases, you might be installing a new water softener system in place of an old one.

Find a New System: 2022‘s Best Water Softener Systems Reviewed by Experts

If a professional is tasked with removing an existing system before installing a new one, it’ll take them more time – and they’ll charge for the extra job.

If the new system slots perfectly in place of the old one, the cost of removing the old system shouldn’t be too high.

Springwell FS futuresoft salt free water softener install

The Installer’s Reputation

The reputation of the person installing your water softener system will more than likely determine your price.

A local plumber with a positive reputation will have lots of jobs for repeat customers, so they can afford to price their service higher.

If you hire a tradesperson with a poor reputation, or a handyman who’s just starting out and has no reputation to speak of, you’ll probably pay less for the service – but you might not get the quality you were hoping for.

📝 How to Reduce Water Softener Installation Costs

Keen to spend as little as possible on installing a water softener? Here’s how to keep your water softener prices for installation as low as possible.

Install the System Yourself (Or Ask a Family Member to Help)

There’s no denying the fact that installing a water softener yourself is much cheaper than hiring a professional, even if you have to do all the hard work yourself.

If you’re familiar with basic plumbing and DIY, you should be able to install a water softener in a few hours. You’ll only need to pay for the installation supplies.

On the other hand, if you’re not a fan of DIY, or you’ll admit that DIY isn’t your strong point, it might be better to hire a professional. You don’t want to end up spending more on repairing all the things you did wrong when you tried to install the system yourself.

You could also ask a family member to install the water softener for you. You can pay them back with food and gifts, not money.

connect drain hose

Buy a Simple System

Some water softeners are so complex that they even leave plumbers scratching their heads during the installation process.

Thankfully, many manufacturers nowadays market their water softener systems as being easy to DIY install. If you want to reduce the effort that goes into installation, avoid fancy systems.

Opt for a traditional single-tank system rather than a dual-tank water softener with two mineral tanks. Read customer reviews to find out how people like you fared with installing the system themselves.

You could also consider salt-free systems, like magnetic water softeners, which are significantly easier to install at your water supply, because they don’t have a brine or mineral tank.

Shop for Supplies Online

If you have a big list of tools and supplies needed to install your soft water system, don’t be so quick to buy them all from your local hardware store.

To keep costs as low as possible, shop for these supplies online. You can find better deals online than in store, so online shopping is a good option if you’re happy to wait a few days before installing your system.

Your manufacturer might offer an installation kit containing all the parts you need to install the system.

Consider buying this for the convenience of having a package of the right components – but keep in mind that you might be able to spend less if you buy them all separately.

Shopping for supplies online

🚰 Average Cost of a Water Softener System

Now you know how much it costs to install a water softener, let’s have a quick refresh of the upfront water softener system cost.

The average cost of a whole house water softener system is $1,500.

This price varies depending on the manufacturer’s reputation, the system’s size and quality, whether or not the softener is certified, the effectiveness of the softening technique, and whether the softener uses any innovative technologies that improve efficiency and reduce water waste.

The bigger your household, the bigger the water softener you’ll need. Expect to pay more money for a larger-than-average water softener if your home has more than three bathrooms.

Ion exchange water softener in basement

📈 Ongoing Costs to Consider

Once you install a water softener at your point of entry water supply, the costs don’t stop there.

If you want a proper overview of how much water softener systems cost, you need to think about the long-term costs associated with maintaining these systems.

Cost FactorAverage Cost Range
Salt (ion exchange only)$20 - $40/40 lb. bag
Potassium Chloride (ion exchange only)$40 - $80/40 lb. bag
Resin$100 - $150 cu.ft.
Water + Sewer (for ion exchange softeners)$20 - $30
ElectricityMinimal
Cleaner$10 - $20
Rust Remover$5-$15
Water Treatment Repairs$200 - $1,000

Maintenance Costs

A water softener system costs about $100 to $300 per year in maintenance.

The most routine maintenance for a standard salt-based softener is to top up the brine tank with fresh salt. Other maintenance costs include cleaning the mineral tank and replenishing the resin.

Salt-free water softeners require less maintenance than salt-based systems. It’s worth considering a salt-free conditioner if you want to keep your long-term costs down.

Service Costs

Getting whole house water softeners serviced is different from performing maintenance on these systems.

Servicing a water softener involves examining the system from top to bottom, checking that all components are functioning properly and free from damage, and carrying out a water hardness test to ensure the water softener is still performing as expected.

The cost of a professional water softener service is about $50-$150, depending on how long the service takes. This doesn’t include the potential cost of new parts.

Servicing a water softener

Water and Electricity Costs

Most traditional ion exchangers use water to regenerate, and need to be connected to an electricity supply to properly operate.

While water and electricity costs are low, they will slightly increase your energy bills.

Again, salt-free systems typically use less water and electricity than salt-based ion exchangers. Opt for salt-free softeners to reduce your long-term spending.

🧠 Water Softener Installation Cost FAQ

Should I install a water softener myself or should I hire an expert?

This depends on whether or not you’re capable of basic plumbing work. We recommend buying a water softener, unboxing it, and reading the instructions for installation while you can see the system. This will give you a better idea of whether you feel comfortable installing the system yourself.

If you think there’s a strong possibility that you’ll make an expensive error when installing your water softener, it’s probably best to pay for a professional plumber or handyman’s labor costs

What should I ask a tradesperson before they install my water softener?

There are several ways to find out whether a tradesperson is capable of installing water softener systems, and whether they’re ultimately worth your money:

  • How long have you been in business?
  • How many similar jobs have you conducted in the past?
  • Have you installed a soft water system like this before?
  • Can you conduct a site visit and quote me based on the complexity of the job?
  • Will additional plumbing be needed?
  • Do you offer servicing? What does this involve?

Does the size of my home affect the cost of installing a water softener?

Sort of. The size of your home determines water softener prices because you’ll likely need to pay more money for a big softener if your home is larger than average.

On the other end, if your home is particularly small, and space is limited, it might take a professional longer to install an ion exchange softener in a tight location. In this case, they might charge more money for the extra time taken to install the system.

Springwell salt-based water softener system

Where is an ion exchange softener installed?

All types of softening systems, including ion exchange softeners, should be installed as close to your water’s point of entry into your home as possible, before your water heater. This ensures that your entire water supply is protected from water hardness minerals.

What’s the overall cost of installing a softening system?

The cost of buying and installing a softening system is $1,500-$4,500. Because water softeners themselves are so varied in price, it’s hard to give a specific price range for buying and installing these systems. Small, under-sink drinking water units, like reverse osmosis units, are cheaper, but they’re not effective in tackling water hardness all around your home.

You can reduce your overall spend by installing the system yourself and buying a system that costs less money to operate in the long run, like a salt-free water softener.