How Much Does a Water Softener Cost?

by Rich Jarvis
soft water filter

Water Softener Costs at a Glance

  • National average for softener plus installation: $1,000-$2,000
  • Price range for softener plus installation: $600-$2,000
  • Monthly maintenance and operation expenses: $10-$20

With nearly 85% of American households receiving hard water from their municipalities today, water softeners are in high demand. Whether your household gets its water from a well or your city’s water mains, water softeners are the standard method for handling hard water issues.

This May Also Interest You: How to Know If Your Bathtub Has Hard Water

Let’s take a look into the benefits of water softeners and why you should consider them more of an investment than an expense.

Do I Have Hard Water In My House?

Since most of the United States water supply is hard water, odds are you’re seeing signs like:

  • Scale buildup on showers and sinks
  • Scale buildup on faucet diffusers and shower heads
  • Dry skin and hair
  • Water marks and residue on clean dishes
  • Difficulty getting soap to lather up
  • Bad-tasting water

Hard water comes with a large percentage of minerals like calcium and magnesium in solution. While not harmful to humans, the minerals are harmful to plumbing, fixtures and appliances, as well as being high-maintenance on your skin, hair and clothes.

On the surface of your faucets and water fixtures, a cleaner like CLR works specifically to remove the stains and scale buildup of calcium, limestone, and rust from iron.

But, our plumbing, water heater, well works and other such systems are hidden from sight. So when you see the mineral scale buildup on your faucet and showerhead, just imagine the amount that’s collected in your plumbing and water heater.

What Size Water Softening System Do I Need?

You need to match the size of the system to the task at hand. To do this accurately, you need to know what your household water usage is per day and what the hardness of the water is. If you’re using city water, you can typically find your water hardness level online. If you're using well water you’ll need to test it or have it tested. Water hardness is measured in grains per gallon.

The simple way to find your daily water usage is to take an average from your water bill. Look at a high-use day that may include showers, dishes and laundry. An alternative is to take the number of people in your household and multiply it by 75. For example, 4 people x 75 gallons = 300 gallons per day of water usage.

Moreover, if you have a water hardness of 10 grains per gallon, your daily water softening requirement could go like this: 10 grains per gallon x 300 gallons per day = 3,000 gallons of water treatment per day.

Regeneration is the homeowner’s responsibility in maintaining the softening system, and requires adding salt regularly. Each water softening system is geared for regenerating every week, and that's where you start to match the system size to your needs.

Using the example from above, you need 21,000 grains per week of capacity if you’re going to recharge your system weekly (3,000 gallons a day x 7 days = 21,000 grains). Therefore, to match the capacity of the system for your house and average one regeneration per week, you're in the market for a water softening system that can handle more than 21,000 grains per week.

Match the System Capacity to Your House

It’s easy to see how a system that’s too small for your house will come up short or fail. Likewise, if you choose a system that’s too large, it won’t need to regenerate often enough and can grow bacteria in the tanks. Here’s where the expertise of a professional plumber or water technician can give you peace of mind in making the right decision regarding a system to match your needs.

How Expensive Are Water Softeners?

The prices for water softener systems are economical when you consider the average lifespan is around 15 years. The national average for a new water softener system installed in a house is $1,000 to $2,000.

Your mileage may vary according to:

  • System size
  • Local labor rates
  • System brand
  • System features
  • Existing plumbing issues

Water softening system prices range from around $600 to $2,000 without installation. If you have the tools and expertise, you can save the cost of labor by installing the system yourself.

What Are the Monthly Costs of Water Softeners?

The monthly expense of water softeners includes salt, water and, in many cases, a nominal amount of electricity for the monitoring and regeneration system. These expenses can range from $10 to $20 per month.

Is a Water Softener Worth It?

For those homeowners who might otherwise be able to get by without one, there are some positives to consider that can make a water softener something to consider.

Benefits include:

  • Longer-lasting appliances
  • Fewer plumbing repairs
  • Improved quality of life (better skin, hair, clothes, drinking water)
  • Less cleaning of bathrooms and sinks
  • Greater home equity

You can stay prepared with a home protection policy with HomeServe that could help you avoid pricey home repairs and being overcharged for things your home insurance does not cover. HomeServe is here to send a local technician to you 24/7.