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water softener cost

Water Softener Cost Guide

If you’re a homeowner, you may have heard of water softeners. Especially if you live in a region with harsh water, it may have been suggested to you to invest in one. 

But first, what is hard water? Hard water contains significant levels of heavy minerals like magnesium and calcium, carbonates, bicarbonates, and even sulfates. These minerals do have some health benefits since our bodies require them; however, an excess means the negative effects outweigh the benefits. 

For instance, high levels of calcium and magnesium can cause buildup in your pipes and cause problems for your plumbing system. Also, hard water doesn’t lather well, making it more difficult to do laundry and wash dishes. 

Since almost 85% of US homes live in regions with hard water, the demand for softener units has increased. Many homeowners are looking to install water softeners to protect their plumbing system, as well as their skin and hair. 

If you’re considering installing one, you may also be wondering how they work, the different types, and the average water softener cost. We’ve created this guide to help you decide which softener will be suitable for your home. 

What is a water softener?

A water softener is a device that’s designed to filter out minerals like calcium and magnesium. This way, you’re left with soft water that’s free of heavy minerals.

Minerals can cause several problems to your pipe system, fixtures like sinks and shower heads, and even your hot water tank. When heated, the minerals solidify, which can cause scaling that can clog your pipes.

Softeners neutralize these minerals through various methods, the most common way being ion exchange. Ion softeners contain charged resin beads that attract and bond with calcium and magnesium ions as water passes over them. At the same time, the resin beads release sodium ions to balance the charge, leaving you with soft water.

Other softeners use magnets, conditioners, and even reverse osmosis. Regardless of the method, the goal is to reduce the level of hard minerals.

In the end, you’re left with water that lathers properly and is gentler on your skin. Most importantly, you’ll significantly reduce your plumbing repair costs and monthly energy bills. 

Water softener cost factors

So how much is a water softener? As it turns out, several factors can affect the total cost. Here are the main ones to consider.

The type of water softener

Perhaps the most important factor affecting total cost is the purchase price of the unit, which can vary depending on the type you choose.

Some systems are cheaper—though it’s important to keep in mind that lower-cost models may not be as effective.

Let’s see what different systems cost based on type. To learn more about the particulars of each, check out our article on types of water softeners.

Salt-based ion exchange water softener

These water softeners use the ion exchange method to produce soft potable (drinkable) water. They’re among the most common types of softener units and are usually mid-range in pricing.

Unlike other softener types, salt-based ion exchange systems have an additional cost. You must replenish the brine tank with new salt every six to eight weeks. And while softener salt isn’t very expensive, it’s a recurring materials cost and maintenance commitment.

Salt-free conditioners

These types of softener units use a process known as TAC (template-assisted crystallization). Here, resin binds to the minerals, crystalizing them and preventing them from causing scaling.

These softener units are relatively affordable and easy to maintain, and they have no extra costs.

Electronic descalers

Descalers are one of the more economical and cost-effective options. Instead of using salt or resin to soften the water, they use electronic impulses from an electronic unit to wrap around the minerals.

What’s better is that they require zero maintenance throughout their lifespan.

Reverse osmosis filtration

With reverse osmosis filtration systems, you have two options: below-the-counter and whole-house systems. Below-the-counter systems cost less—on the other hand, whole-house options are typically much pricier.

Fortunately, the high cost is directly proportional to its efficiency. These softeners are incredibly efficient and will remove up to 98% of water contaminants.

As for additional costs, the system requires a filter replacement every six months, and you will need to replace the reverse osmosis screen every two years.

Unit capacity and features

The cost to install water softeners often varies depending on the size of your family and home. More bathrooms often require larger-capacity systems.

Pricing may also depend on additional available features, such as:

  • Digital control panels
  • Timer controls
  • Smartphone connectivity
  • Additional purification stages, like a UV system

Generally, a larger capacity and more features will increase expenses. However, it could result in greater long-term savings and benefits.

Installation expenses

Besides the unit’s purchase price, it’s also crucial to consider the water softener installation cost. After all, installing a softener requires professional knowledge for successful setup and operation.

Like the purchase cost, the actual installation cost will be influenced by the system’s size and type, as well as the complexity of the process. This is why exact online quotes aren’t exactly viable, as expenses are highly variable depending on things like your home’s layout, your location, and so on.

Installation expenses can comprise the following:

  • Removal and disposal of an old unit (if applicable)
  • Supplies (such as tubing and fittings)
  • Equipment and tools required for the installation process
  • Labor fees to pay plumbers

When budgeting for a unit, be sure to look beyond the initial purchase price and consider the cost to install the water softener.

Maintenance and repair

Regular maintenance of your system is essential for optimal performance and a longer lifespan, and it can contribute to overall water softener costs. Factors for maintenance and repair include:

  • Salt or potassium cost for salt-based systems
  • Replacement filters and cartridges
  • Potential repair or replacement of parts over time

Installing water softener? Let the experts at Plumb-Tech help

Most water softener systems have a lifespan of around 10 to 20 years. This means that despite the high prices, you won’t have to pay a lot of money very often. Unless the system requires additional operational costs, you only need to service it to enjoy the benefits of having soft water for your plumbing.
If you have questions about installation, contact Plumb-Tech today to schedule an appointment with one of our professionals. We’ll help you determine which system is best for your house and give you an estimate.

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