So you’ve realized that you need a water softener to treat your hard water, and maybe you’ve even decided on the size.  Now, you’re thinking about the next steps: purchase and installation.  How exactly are water softeners installed, and about how much should it cost?  

In this article, we address these questions by discussing the range of average installation costs, and what you can expect in terms of your different installations options.

Water Softener Installation Options

In essence, you have two main options when it comes to installing your new water softener.  You can either opt to install it yourself, which will save you money but require a good deal of skill and knowledge.  Alternatively, you can hire a professional, either from the same store from which you bought the softener, or you can shop around hardware and plumbing stores for offers.

Naturally, the DIY option will be cheaper than hiring a contractor, but will require you to take on some serious trades work.  If you’re the kind of person who loves to immerse themselves in home improvement projects, then this might be the right option for you.  However, keep in mind that in order to complete the project, you’ll need to cut and join water piping (typically steel or copper).

If you do opt to do it yourself, make sure your softener comes with an installation kit with all the materials required to install your particular softener, like tubing and connectors, groove joint pliers, a wire reaming brush, a tubing cutter, and the like.  This is a serious and potentially dangerous job, and should only be attempted by those confident they are able to handle the installation.

On the other hand, for most people, the right thing to do will be to have a professional contractor install the water softener in your home.  Although the cost will be higher than doing it yourself, you will save yourself a lot of time, frustration, and future headaches down the road.

As the installation job can be complex, having a professional carry out the project provides you with peace of mind.  Any errors made up front in the installation can prove costly down the road.  Cutting the wrong pipe or installing the wrong size will likely only end up inflating the overall cost of the project.  Using a professional also means you have someone to call when it comes time to give your water softener some maintenance.  

Because different contractors will charge different rates for parts and labor, it makes sense to shop around a little.  Get a few quotes of approximate cost from local contractors and plumbers or those employed by a hardware store.  Getting quotes upfront also saves any surprises when it comes time to take a look at the invoice.  Depending on where you purchased the softener, you may be able to get a discount on installation by using the same store and bundling the two purchases.  

Lastly, make note of whether your manufacturer requires a professional installation of your softener.  Some manufacturers will void the warranty on the unit if it is not installed by a professional service.

Water Softener Installation Costs

For the do it yourself option, you will be able to keep costs of installation low because you won’t be paying for labor, and you should be able to purchase most required materials (those you don’t already have) at a cost similar to a contractor.  

Contrast this with paying a premium for parts and materials, equipment usage, a high cost of labor, debris and old appliance removal, and taxes on top of everything.  You can see how the costs can add up quickly. 

Although there will still be some variability in the cost of a self-installation, typically projects range in the hundreds of dollars as opposed to thousands for a professional service.  

For the DIY option, typical installation costs for a metered softener range from $200-500.  This includes the cost of materials and parts, as well as any equipment rentals.  

Your installation costs will also be, in part, determined by the type of water softener you are installing.  Less expensive units are, unsurprisingly, less expensive to install on average.  A simple installation of a small, manual regeneration softener can cost as little as $200-$300.  

On the other hand, installing a large, metered unit can cost upwards of $2,000.  For bigger and more complex systems, you will most likely need to use a professional installation service.

In general, using a contractor to install your softener can cost anywhere from $400-4,000 or more.  We know, that is a big range.  But as mentioned, the cost for installing your unit will depend on the details of the job.  

Another cost factor for contractors will be the complexity of the job.  Remember that a water softener must be installed near the water source.  If you have the required plumbing set-up already in place, then the cost will be significantly lower.  However, if your water main is difficult to access, installation costs will likely increase. 

Weighing the Costs and Benefits

Ultimately, your choice to install your new softener yourself or to hire a professional should be determined by a number of factors.  Cost is definitely among these factors, although it should not be the only consideration.  

For small, simple jobs that don’t require a lot of new plumbing work, installing a water softener can be relatively low cost.  As low as $200 to do yourself (or maybe even lower in some cases), or $400-500 for a professional service.  

Larger, more complex systems, and/or those that require a lot of new plumbing work, can cost $2,000-4,000 or more to install, using professional assistance.  For large or complex jobs, hiring a contractor or plumber is strongly recommended (unless you are one yourself or have previous experience).