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PLUMBING SYSTEM INSPECT DIAGNOSE REPAIR
CHEMICAL CONTAMINANTS in WATER
CLOGGED SUPPLY PIPING
DEBRIS in WATER SUPPLY, Water Heater
DRINKING WATER TESTING
EPA GUIDE to WATER QUALITY
FHA WATER TESTS REQUIRED
FREEZE-PROOF A BUILDING
HARD WATER - SOFTENERS
HEAT TAPE USAGE GUIDE
MUNICIPAL WATER PRESSURE IMPROVEMENTS
ODORS GASES SMELLS, DIAGNOSIS & CURE
ODORS IN WATER
PLUMBING SYSTEM ODORS
PRESSURE CONTROL SWITCH ADJUSTMENT
REVERSE OSMOSIS CONCENTRATE DISPOSAL
SEWER GAS ODORS
WATER HEATER SCALE REMOVAL
WATER HEATER SCALE PREVENTION
WATER ODORS, CAUSE CURE
WATER PRESSURE & FLOW MEASUREMENT
WATER QUALITY TESTS, CONTAMINANTS, TREATMENT
WATER SOFTENERS & CONDITIONERS
WATER SOURCE ALTERNATIVES
WATER SUPPLY & DRAIN PIPING
WATER TANK: USES, TROUBLESHOOTING
WATER TESTS, CONTAMINANTS, TREATMENT
WINTERIZE A BUILDING
How to install or "hook up" a water softener: how to connect a water softener to building water piping, drain piping, & electrical power; where to locate the water softener. This article explains how to hook up a water softener or water conditioner. We describe the piping connections for water in and out of the water softener, water softener bypass valves for maintenance, and water softener drain hookups. This article series explains how water softeners and similar water conditioners work, types of water softeners, and the basics of what water softener controls are present and what they do, how water softeners should be installed, maintained, cleaned, and adjusted.
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Also see SOFTENER ADJUSTMENT & CONTROLS where we provide details about water softener setting and salt dose adjustments
It is conceptually simple to install and connect-up a water conditioner or water softener.
You need to find physical space where the resin or treatment tank and controls will fit, and where the salt or brine tank will fit. Usually these two pieces are separate (except in some older manually operated water softeners), but they are installed side-by-side.
Our photo of a water conditioner installation at left shows a Kinetico Mach Series water conditioner system installed in a Dutchess County New York home.
Where space is really tight, we sometimes see the larger brine tank installed somewhere else not right next to the water softener, but of course connected to it by its flexible plastic tubing.
Since it's usually preferable to treat all of the building water supply with a water conditioner (this helps protect pipes from mineral-clogging by hard water), the water conditioner is usually placed as close as possible to where water enters the building.
Most installers place the water softener near other water equipment in the building such as close to an indoor pump and water pressure tank, or where municipal water is supplied, close to where the water supply enters the building.
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The water softener hookup layout sketch shown at left is from a 1989 Culligan System 19 or 23 Water Conditioner installation manual. Be sure to consult the specific manual for your own water softener brand and model for correct hookup details for your own equipment.
The water softener is piped "in line" on the main cold water pipe entering the structure so that incoming water is treated before passing on to the building water heater, and to hot and cold water distribution piping.
If other water treatment or water sterilizing or potability system is installed (such as a chlorinator or UV light), that equipment is best placed ahead of or before the water softener to help avoid the chances of unwanted bacterial growth in the water conditioner.
If a water filter is installed, we like that to also be ahead of all other water treatment in the building to help avoid debris clogging that interferes with proper operation of other water treatment equipment. For example, dirt or silt in a water supply can quickly coat the bulb in a UV light bacterial treatment device on a private water supply system.
Incoming water is connected to the "input" side of the water softener/water conditioner, and the conditioner's output side is connected to the building water supply piping feeding the building's plumbing fixtures.
For watering gardens and lawns the installer may provide a direct connection to that building water piping taken off before the water softener so that we don't waste water softener salt treating water being used to wash a car or water the lawn.
Periodically, depending on the water hardness and the amount of water used, the water softener or water conditioner needs to clean itself of minerals accumulated as they were removed from the water supply, and to recharge the salt used in the softener's resin chamber where water is treated.
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On an automatic water softener the regeneration and cleaning cycle for the water softener is controlled by a simple timer or clock, or on more sophisticated systems a computer chip may monitor the amount of water used and even the hardness of water leaving the system, deciding based on that data when a backwash-regeneration cycle is needed.
Shown at left is a chart indicating the water softener drain line length limitations in feet based on an installation in which the brine tank and water softener are installed together on the same building level. This specific chart is from a Culligan System 19/23 Water Conditioner installation manual. Be sure to check your own equipment's installation manual.
When the water softener goes through a regeneration cycle it will bypass the building water supply, often automatically, so that water stops passing through the equipment's treatment system pump water into the separate brine tank (salt tank) where it dissolves salt pump new salty water backwards through the resin tank or treatment tank where the process removes other minerals from the treatment tank, sending this product out through a (usually plastic) drain tube to a building drain.
Watch out: Use an air gap: for elevated water conditioner drain lines that empty into an overhead sewer pipe or waste pipe you should use a sink-type trap for the connection (that is provide an air gap to avoid back-contamination of the equipment).
Watch out: Never connect the water softener drain line directly to a sewer drain (that is by an air-tight connection such as shown at left).
Doing so invites sewage and bacterial back-contamination into the building water supply system, especially if a sewer line backup occurs. See CROSS CONNECTIONS, PLUMBING.
The water softener also needs to be plugged-in to an electrical outlet to power the equipment control. See Steps in Starting Up A New or Newly-Installed Water Softener for details.
You'll need to set the water conditioner's clock to the proper time (and day on some models) and you may need to set the water softener controls that determine the frequency of regeneration and the salt dose. See SOFTENER ADJUSTMENT & CONTROLS.
The following advice is adapted from water softener installation manuals from Culligan and other water conditioner manufacturers.
For new water conditioners: The water conditioner start-up procedure here is appropriate when you are installing a new water conditioner system or a new water conditioner media tank.
Watch out: as Culligan's manuals point out about new water conditioners,
Watch out: because water softener and other water conditioner equipment models vary in features and functions, they also vary in their exact installation requirements. You should have or obtain the installation, operation, and maintenance manual for your own brand and model of water softener.
Most water softener owners manuals include detailed installation instructions and also a table of recommended settings. If you don't have an owner's manual call the manufacturer's tech service and give them the model number and ask for a manual as well as their setting advice.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Question: Where to obtain WTF 480 or WTF 15ANX water softener manuals
Do you have any manuals on WTF 480 or WTF 15ANX water softeners? - Laura Tapp 6/12/11
Laura, the WTF series are produced and distributed by Water Tender, 6201 South Hanover Rd., Elkridge MD 21075-5651, Tel: 410-796-7700; also Water Tender, 23204 Airpark Dr., Petersburg VA 23803, Tel: 804-732-7000. You can contact them for installation and service manuals.
Question: Autotrol 255 valve/ 400 series control water conditioner - water keeps flowing out of the hose
I have a Autotrol 255 valve/ 400 series control water conditioner, water flows out of hose non stop. We have tried regeneration several time but this doesn't shut off water. - Deloras 2/8/12
Deloras, your water conditioner sounds like it's stuck in regen mode. See the diagnostics at DIAGNOSE SOFTENER BACKUP / FLOODING for help in repairing this problem.
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