Where to Install a Water Softener in Your Home (Top Tips)

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Water softeners are whole-home water treatment systems, so they need to be installed as close as possible to water’s entry into your home.

In this guide, we’ve shared the best location to install a water softener, and the factors affecting where you can get your water softener installed.

📌 Key Takeaways:

  • The best place to install your water softener is inside, close to your main water line’s entry into your home.
  • Factors affecting where a water softener can be installed include your available space, the drainage and electricity access near to your home’s plumbing, and whether or not you have other water treatment equipment.

🧰 Where Should A Water Softener Be Installed?

So, where should a water softener go in a house?

The best place for a water softening system to be installed is along the main water line, as close as possible to its entry point into your home, upstream of your hot water heater.

Some new homes are pre-plumbed with a water softener loop, which provides an obvious location for you to install your water softener.

Springwell WSSS combo system in our basement

🔎 Factors Affecting Water Softener Installation Location

When you’re deciding where to install your water softener, consider the following factors.

Available Space

You’ll need enough space in the installation location for:

  1. A simple installation that isn’t hindered by corners and small gaps.
  2. Easy access to the brine tank for maintenance (water softener salt top-ups).

📌 Measure your available space before you buy a water softening unit. The last thing you want is the hassle of returning a system because it’s simply too big to fit along your existing plumbing.

Related: Find info on the top rated water softeners

Drainage Access

All traditional water softener systems have a drain line, so it’s important to make sure you have a drain of some sort in your installation location.

Somewhere close to your water softener, there should be a floor drain, a sump, or a laundry tub. Or, you will need a drain pipe to send drain water out of the water softener during regeneration.

The water softener drain line can usually be run horizontally for 30 feet, or vertically (to a flow upwards. i.e. if the water softener is installed in a basement) for up to 8 feet.

Your state might have local codes that you’ll need to stick to for drain requirements. In most cases, you can’t simply drain the regeneration wastewater outside due to its high softener salt content.

Installing a water softener drain line

Access To Electricity

Again, with the odd exception, most water softeners can only work when they’re connected to a power supply.

Water softeners need electricity to perform a regeneration cycle every few days. You’ll need to get your system installed in the vicinity of a 120-volt electrical outlet to provide constant access to power.

Other Water Treatment Equipment

If you have other water treatment systems, such as sediment filters and whole home drinking water filter systems, there’s usually an optimum order of installation to maximize efficiency and protect both systems.

Your water quality will determine the order of installation:

  • Install the water softener first if your water has high or very high hardness and low-to-moderate levels of sediment, chlorine, and iron.
  • Install the water softener second (downstream of the water filter) if your water contains a high amount of chlorine, sediment, iron, or other impurities addressed by the water filter that could damage the water softener mineral tank

In most cases, a water softener should be installed first, since hard water minerals often have more damage to water filters than other water contaminants on the resin beads.

Springwell Water Filter and Salt Based Water Softener System combo water treatment system installed outside

❔ Where To Install A Water Softener FAQ

Can a water softener be installed anywhere?

A water softener can be installed anywhere – within reason. As long as the water softener is installed upstream of your hot water heater, providing soft water in your hot and cold pipes and preventing scale buildup in your entire plumbing system, the exact location doesn’t matter. Just make sure you have enough space to install and maintain the ion exchange system.

Related: What if I install my water softener for hot water only?

Can I install a water softener outside?

Yes – with the right protection from the elements, outdoor installations of water softeners are possible, and some water softeners are specially designed for outdoor installation. To protect a softener from direct sunlight and frost, wrap the fittings and pipes with electrical wrap tape and buy or build an insulated housing unit to place around the tanks. You could also bury the tanks underground.

Should I install a water softener before or after my well pressure tank?

If you have a private well water supply, you should always install a softened water system downstream of the pressure tank. If you install a softener before the tank, it might stop the tank from working properly. However, there are a few exceptions, which we’ve outlined here.

How much room do you need for a water softener?

You usually need at least one square meter of space for a soft water system. The more room you have, the better, since it’ll make it easier to perform system maintenance and repairs without having to bend at an angle or squeeze yourself into a gap.

Can I put a water softener in my garage?

Yes, you can put an ion exchange softener in your garage, as long as you have a nearby electrical outlet and adequate drainage. Garage installation is a good choice for many people because the water supply enters the home through the garage and there’s more available space than in the other rooms in the house. The same goes for basement installation – it’s usually possible to drain regeneration water up to ground level if necessary.

Can you put a water softener in a crawl space?

Yes, you can put a water softening unit in a crawl space, but some crawl spaces may be too small for a system of this size. Measure your available space carefully and decide whether or not the system will fit comfortably. If you only have room in a crawl space for a softener, consider buying a smaller system that’s designed to be installed in tighter locations, like those in mobile homes.

  • 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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