If you’re a homeowner, you may have heard of water softeners, and, 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 is water containing significant levels of heavy minerals like magnesium and calcium, carbonates, bicarbonates, and even sulfates. Hard water does have some health benefits since our bodies require these minerals; however, its 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 water softeners 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 a water softener, 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 water softener will be suitable for your home.
What is a water softener?
Earlier, we discussed hard water and how it can affect your plumbing system. A water softener is a device that is designed to filter minerals like calcium and magnesium from your water. This way, you are left with soft water or water free of heavy minerals.
Hard water minerals can cause several problems to your pipe system, fixtures like sinks and shower heads, and even your hot water tank. When hard water is heated, the minerals solidify, which can cause scaling that can clog your pipes.
Water 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 water charge, leaving you with soft water.
Other water softeners use magnets, conditioners, and even reverse osmosis to soften the water. Regardless of the method, the goal is to reduce the level of hard water minerals.
In the end, you are 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.
But how much is a water softener? Let’s find out:
Water softener cost
The first factor affecting the cost of a water softener is the purchase price of the unit itself. Water softener cost can vary depending on the type and size of the unit. Usually, a whole-house water softener will cost as low as $400 to over $2,000, depending on which one you choose.
While some softener systems can be cheaper, you should note that some of the cheaper models may not filter the minerals from your water as effectively as you would like. As you are considering your budget, keep effectiveness and efficiency in mind.
Let’s see what different water softeners cost based on type:
Salt-based ion exchange water softener
These water softeners use the ion exchange method to produce soft potable (drinkable) water. They are among the most common types of water softeners and will cost you between $800 and $2,000.
Unlike other water softeners, 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.
These types of water softeners use a process known as TAC (template-assisted crystallization) to soften your water. Here, resin binds to the hard water minerals, crystalizing them and preventing them from causing scaling.
These water softeners cost between $500 and $2,800. They are relatively easy to maintain, and they have no extra costs.
Descalers are one of the more economic options. Instead of using salt or resin to soften the water, they use electronic impulses from an electronic unit to wrap around the minerals and form soft water.
Electronic descalers will cost you between $75 and $300. 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 around $150 to $800 for the unit. On the other hand, the whole-house option can range between $4,000 and $12,000.
Fortunately, the high cost is directly proportional to its efficiency. These water 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.
Average cost to install a water softener
Besides the unit’s purchase price, it’s also crucial to consider the water softener installation cost before you can enjoy soft water in your home. Like the purchase cost, the installation cost is influenced by the system’s size and type, as well as the complexity of the process.
Here’s a table with some approximate prices:
|Cost Factor||Average Cost|
|Plumber labor fees||$200 to $300|
|Supplies (i.e., fittings and tubing)||$50 to $100|
|Tools and equipment necessary for the installation||$80 to $100|
|Removal and disposal (optional)||$100 to $200|
Also, noting that different types of water softeners will have different costs, here are a few types of water softener systems and their respective installation costs:
|Type of softener system||Installation cost|
|Ion exchange salt-based system||$200 to $500|
|No-salt conditioner system||$150 to $250|
|Reverse osmosis system||$150 to $500|
|Dual-tank system||$300 to $1,000|
When budgeting for a water softener, ensure to look beyond the initial purchase price and consider the cost to install the water softener as well as any operational costs.
How much is a water softener replacement?
If you already own a water softener, you may be wondering how much it costs to replace an old one. The cost of replacing a water softener can range anywhere between $700 and $3000. This includes both the new system and the labor. If you only want to replace the filter or resin tank, it will cost you around $200 to $500 on average.
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 water softeners or installation, contact Plumb-Tech today to schedule an appointment with one of our professionals. We’ll help you determine which softener system is best for your house and give you an estimate.