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How To Water Softner
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How To Install a Water Softner

Hard water is more than an unpleasant nuisance; it can stain sinks, reduce the cleaning power of detergent, cause buildup in faucets and pipes, and shorten the life of a water heater. Though several types of salt-free water softeners are available, a salt-based (ion exchange) softener is still the most popular choice.

Though most homeowners choose to buy and maintain their own water softener, a viable option is to rent one. Over the long run, renting will cost more than buying, but it can save you the trouble of installing, maintaining, and repairing a system.

Installation Basics

Installing a water softener calls for basic plumbing skills. Unless youíre simply replacing an old water softener, you may need to cut into and connect new fittings and pipes. (If you have copper pipes, see Cutting & Joining Copper Pipe for how-to help.) If doing it yourself looks like too much trouble, consider hiring a local prescreened water softener installation pro.

Cabinet-type water softeners are installed as a single unit, which houses both a softening tank and a salt brine tank. Some water softeners have a separate salt brine tank that sits to the side of the softening tank.

If you donít have an existing water softener, the first step down the path of installing one is to choose a location for the appliance. (See How to Choose a Water Softener Location.)

An important note: In households where sodium in the drinking water may cause a health risk, it is often recommended that only the hot water be softened or that certain drinking water faucets be bypassed by the softened water. If you intend to install your softener so that the cold water system is not served by it, place it after (downstream from) the water heateróbut keep in mind that you will lose all of the benefits of water softening in your cold water system. Another option is to select a salt-free water softening system.

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