Water is one of the most important components of everyday life. You need it to live, and you need it to cook, clean, bathe, and more. Unfortunately, not all water is created or distributed equally. As it originates from ground reservoirs, water passes through mineral deposits before it makes its way to your tap. That often results in your home’s water containing varying levels of heavy minerals, usually calcium and magnesium. While these minerals are mostly harmless in the concentrations found in water, they can affect the quality of your water. Your water may taste different or leave a film on your skin and dishes. At worst, hard water can contribute to scaling and mineral deposits in your pipes, which can cause clogs and other plumbing issues.
As a means of reducing hard water, many homeowners invest in water softener systems. Knowing how to choose a water softener comes with plenty of important factors, but the price tag tends to be at the forefront of everyone’s mind. How much does a home water softener system cost? Read on to learn more.
A water softener system usually comprises two units, a resin tank and a brine tank. These are connected to the pipes that take water into your property. The resin tank is filled with resin beads that are coated in sodium positive ions. These mineral ions attract calcium and magnesium ions in the water, causing them to stick to the resin beads. The demineralized, softened water flows into your home.
The sodium ions get knocked into the household water, and over time, the resin beads lose their sodium and become saturated in calcium and magnesium ions. In order to replenish the charge and remove the calcium and magnesium ions, the unit has to rinse the resin beads with a saltwater solution from the brine tank. The salt (sodium chloride) in the saltwater displaces the calcium and magnesium while covering the resin in sodium ions again. The excess saltwater, calcium, and magnesium get flushed out of the system, and the water softener system continues its regular operation.
Homeowners can expect to pay anywhere from $300 to $4,000 for a water softener unit and for the installation costs. That is a huge swing, and the two main factors that affect the water softener price are the type of unit and the installation.
There are a handful of different types of water systems that use different mechanisms to soften water. The three main types are distillers, reverse osmosis units, and whole-house systems.
Distillers purify water through a steam process that effectively separates water from any heavy minerals. While this process is effective, it is slow and can generally only purify a few gallons of water per hour. Due to their smaller size, distiller systems can cost less, but they can struggle with larger-scale applications and are better reserved for single-use applications, like only for drinking water.
Whole-house water softener systems generally use the ion exchange process described above. These are hooked up directly to incoming water sources and offer an efficient means of softening water that enters your home. These types of systems can range in pricing, and are typically easy to install and maintain. However, it is strongly recommended to have a professional water treatment installer conduct the work.
Reverse osmosis systems are also a popular option. These systems are designed to purify water and filter out minerals and impurities. They work by forcing water through a special, semi-permeable membrane. There are several steps of filtration involved to produce clean, well-filtered water. However, while reverse osmosis systems are effective, they tend to use a lot of water, and the process of filtering hard water can wear out the reverse osmosis membrane much faster. Some households combine reverse osmosis systems and ion exchange water softeners, which allows for higher-quality water while extending the longevity of the reverse osmosis system.
Based on the size and complexity, most water softener units will require a professional installation, and in a lot of cases, the labor involved with an installation will cost more than the unit itself.
Your specific water softener cost with installation will vary, but for a salt-based ion exchange system, you can expect to pay about $400 for an installation. A dual-tank system may cost about $600 to install, while a higher-end dual-tank system will cost upwards of $1,000 to install based on the scope of work required.
Even after your installation, you have to consider the maintenance involved. Regular maintenance is a natural part of any water softener system. It is absolutely worth learning how to clean a water softener unit, which can help to extend the life of your system, prevent clogging and scale buildup, and prevent more costly repairs.
The other main cost of using a water softener is the salt. You generally need to refill the salt tank every 4 to 6 weeks depending on capacity. A 40-pound bag of salt will run you approximately $5-10 per month. However, if you have to watch your sodium consumption or otherwise do not want to use salt, you have the option of using potassium chloride. While potassium works in the exact same way, it can cost you quite a bit more. A 40-pound bag of potassium chloride can cost you upwards of $35.
The actual quality of your incoming water can also affect how much you spend. Along with going through your salt and resin faster, harder water and larger families may just require a more efficient water softening process or system. Essentially, the higher your hardness level is, the more you will have to spend towards a softener tank.
In general, for a whole-house system, pricing can vary based on the size of the plumbing, size of the family, size of the house, and quality of the water. A water softener system can also prevent mineral deposits from building up in your plumbing, which can contribute to costly damage, corrosion, and clogs. You can contact your local Rayne representative and receive a free in-home estimate to ensure you are getting the best system for your needs.
The upfront and ongoing costs are definitely something to consider when weighing out the pros and cons of a water softener. However, for most homeowners, the investment is well worth it for soft, purified water that tastes better, feels better on skin and hair, and promotes cleaner laundry.