Hard water can cause scale buildup on fixtures and a frost-like calcium buildup on shower doors. Hard water feels different from softer water because it contains higher levels of minerals such as magnesium and calcium. Hard water can harm plumbing by building up inside the pipes. It can shorten the lifespan of appliances, and it also prevents the breakdown of detergents and soaps, causing additional concerns. A qualified service technician can install a water treatment system to soften the water in homes or businesses.
Most water softeners work by ion exchange, filtering the hard water through a control valve and into a tank prepared with resin that exchanges the magnesium and calcium ions. That water then passes through a filtration system and the softened water enters the plumbing for household consumption. Several factors affect the cost of installing a water softening system.
Regional labor costs affect an installation project, as does the type of water in the area. Different water treatment systems are required for treating different types of water. Dan Fleck of Stasis Water Systems in Chandler, Arizona, says the water in the Phoenix area contains high levels of calcium and magnesium, so he works with systems that counteract these minerals.
In general, there two main categories of water softeners: mechanical valves and digital valves. Beyond those two, many other water softening systems are available. The specific brand and features of the system affect the overall project cost. It’s a good idea to consult a water treatment professional before purchasing a system. Fleck at Stasis Water Systems says he had some customers who purchased a water softener off the internet for him to install, but the particular system they bought was made for removing iron from the water. Since there’s no iron in the water in the Phoenix area, the water softener was actually irrelevant for their region. Fleck and Clack (no relation to Dan Fleck) offer two industry-standard products. Fleck is a tried-and-true mechanical valve, while Clack is a more modern, digital valve, and costs slightly more. Here are examples of digital versus mechanical softener costs from Stasis Water Systems:
Fleck mechanical valve softener for a townhome-size residence: $780
- Clack digital valve softener for a townhome-size residence: $870
The larger the water softening unit and the greater its capacity, the higher the cost. Capacity requirements are based on the number of occupants in a home, the appliances in the home and how much water is used on a regular basis. A professional installer can help guide product choice. Here are some examples of softener cost based on building size from Stasis Water Systems:
Clack digital softener for a townhome: $870
- Clack digital softener for 7,000-square-foot home: $1,500
The more complex the installation, the higher the labor costs. Dan Fleck of Stasis Water Systems says that newer homes often have a plumbing loop prebuilt for water softeners, which is the best-case scenario. Homes that have the water main access in an easy-to-reach location—such as on a garage wall—is the next-best scenario. Overall project costs increase when the pros have to install special plumbing, depending on the layout of the house. Here are some examples of installation costs based on plumbing complexity from Stasis Water Systems (prices do not include the cost of the softener system):
House preplumbed for a water softener: $250
Water main easily accessible with minimal work to drill through walls and access pipes: $350
Homes that require running French pipes around the house and/or through the attic: up to $750
Trenching a water line all the way around a 4,000-square-foot house to bypass the water leveler for a pool: $1,200
Included digging through desert landscaping
- Ten or eleven hours of work and three workers