What is a Soft Water Loop & is it Necessary?

If your home has a soft water loop, you’ll find it much quicker and easier to install a water softener. In this quick guide, we’ve answered the question, “What is a soft water loop?”

📌 Key Takeaways:

  • A soft water loop is a length of copper pipe that sends water from your home’s plumbing system directly into the installed water softener.
  • Soft water loops ensure that all your appliances and faucets use soft water, and make it cheaper and easier to install water softeners than with a full line installation.
  • Some modern homes already have a water softener loop, but most old homes don’t.

🚿 What Is A Soft Water Loop?

A soft water loop, otherwise known as a water softener loop, is a dedicated section of copper piping that connects the water softener to the internal water distribution pipes in your home.

The main purpose of a water softener loop is to separate your home’s inside and outside water systems separated, meaning that soft water is only used inside your home.

water softener loop example

🤔 Why Use A Water Softener Loop?

A water softener loop ensures that all water traveling through your incoming water supply line is sent through the water softener system. This enables all water-using appliances in your home to benefit from soft water, preventing hard water damage that reduces appliance efficiency and shortens their lifespans.

At the same time, the loop separates the softener from any outdoor faucets or appliances, meaning that soft water (which isn’t typically needed outside) isn’t wasted on outdoor tasks like watering plants.

🔎 Where To Find A Water Softener Loop

Many modern homes have a water softener loop built into the existing plumbing system. That means you won’t have to put in the effort of installing a soft water loop yourself.

Water softener loops are commonly found near the point of entry of your main water supply line, often in your garage, crawl space, or basement.

👨‍🔧 Look for a u-shaped copper pipe, which may come up from the floor or out from the wall. Or, if you live in a region with mild weather, you might find a water softener loop on the outside of your property, near your water meter.

📝 Are Water Softener Loops Essential?

No, water softener loops aren’t essential. You can install a water softener system without a soft water loop – it just means that you won’t conserve water, so you’ll have a slightly bigger water bill and shorten your softener’s lifespan.

Technically, though, water softeners can be installed anywhere along your plumbing lines, as long as the install location is upstream of your hot water heater – so you get both hot and cold softened water in your home.

🪛 Can You Install A Water Softener Loop?

Yes – if you don’t already have a water softener loop in your home, you can install one before you begin the water softener installation.

Unless you have a lot of plumbing experience and consider yourself a handy person, we recommend hiring a professional to install a soft water loop for you.

The last thing you want is to damage your plumbing system and potentially cause a major leak, so it’s best to pay the $600-$1,000 for professional installation of a water softener loop if you’re not a confident DIY-er.

📖 How To Install A Water Softener Loop

Below, we’ve outlined the main steps to install a loop for a soft water system.

  1. Find the end of your water line. This could be in the ceiling or your attic, or in a crawl space, basement or garage.
  2. Install a pipe from the end of your water line to the water heater (which is near the softener install location). This pipe is the water softener loop.

When choosing where to place a softener loop, keep in mind what you need to install a water softening system. Water softeners have a drain line that needs to be directed to a nearby drain, and most softeners use electricity, so the install location should also be near a power outlet.

📈 Does A Water Softener Loop Need Maintenance?

No, soft water loops don’t need maintenance. They’re just like any other pre-plumbed pipe components in your plumbing system. Once the extra copper pipe has been installed, it should last 70-80 years, like the rest of your plumbing.

Plus, soft water loops reduce the frequency of water softener maintenance because they ensure that only water used in indoor faucets and appliances is softened, so salt isn’t used needlessly for ion exchange in the resin tank.

🧐 What Happens If You Don’t Have A Water Softener Loop?

If you don’t have a loop for your soft water system, it just means you’ll have to install the water softener at your main water line.

That means you’ll have to plumb in lines to connect the softener to the water supply line, which will limit your options for install locations.

Installing water softeners without a loop is often more expensive, too, because you’ll need a full line, which typically costs $400 to $900 to install.

Related content: Complete water softener system flow diagram

📑 Final Word

A soft water loop isn’t essential, but it is ideal. If you don’t already have a water softener loop, consider the costs, benefits, and setbacks of installing one in your home. If you have the budget, we recommend installing a soft water loop for its water-conserving perks.

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