The thought of installing anything plumbing related — a new faucet, toilet, water heater, or water softener — is daunting for everybody but the professional plumber.
Do you install it yourself?
Use the dealer or home improvement center’s install technicians?
Or do you call a plumber?
In this post we look at what to expect from various installation options, allowing you to choose the best approach.
Installing a water softener yourself allows you to work on the project at your own pace and without spending extra money on a plumber, although that’s not a bad thing. It’s all about your experience and comfort with all things plumbing.
Installing a water softener should take no more than a half day, or a full day if you’re a measure twice, cut once kind of DIYer.
If you’re replacing an old water softener, the installation can be completed in an hour.
To make sure everything goes smoothly, you’ll want to make sure you have all the necessary supplies and tools before you begin, as you may need to cut some pipes to align your water softener and water supply lines. It helps to create a checklist to ensure you don’t miss any key steps.
Pros of DIY Installation
- By tackling the project yourself, you can work on the project at your own pace.
- You won’t have to pay a premium for installation, depending on the rates charged by a dealer, home improvement center, or plumber. These costs average between $200 and $500.
Cons of DIY Installation
- Doing it yourself will require some midlevel plumbing knowledge if you are installing a softener for the first time or your home was not pre-plumbed for a softener.
- You may need to cut some pipes for the water softener and your water supply to align.
- Forgetting simple steps due to inexperience like shutting off the water supply before beginning.
Before you start the installation, determine the best location for the water softener. The ideal spot will be a dry, level location with at least 10 feet of piping between the water softener and your water heater, near an electrical outlet and close to the water’s main line and a drain.
Difficulty: moderate (3.5 on a 5-point scale)
Time investment: Significant — this includes research, too (5.0)
Cost: Low to moderate, depending on the quality of equipment chosen (2.0-3.0). Forgoing professional can save significant money.
If you purchased the water softener through a retailer like Home Depot, Lowe’s or Sears, you may have the option of using their installation service for an additional charge.
It may take several days to schedule the installation, as the retailer uses an installer in their network who’s experienced and equipped to install your particular system.
Since the retailer sets the appointment for you, they’ll be able to negotiate rates, helping you get the best installation price, which may be less than what a plumber would charge.
Pros of Retailer Installation
Purchasing through a retailer offers several key benefits.
- You can buy the installation of your water softener as part of a complete appliance package, resulting in cost savings.
- Most retailers also offer a finance program to spread the cost of the purchase and installation over the course of a few months.
- The retailer does the legwork in finding a plumber who is equipped to handle the installation of your system and can provide insight into complementary products that are designed for your softener, like a whole-home water filter, softener cleanser or a certain type of salt.
- Last, retailers can offer warranty extensions to protect your investment.
Cons of Retailer Installation
- There may be inconsistencies in the services provided from retailer to retailer.
- It may take several days to schedule the installation.
- You are not only shopping for the best price between two, three retailers, but you are also shopping for the best installation deal. It’s easy to see differences in price; it’s not so easy to know the quality of installation you will be getting.
Difficulty: Easy. Having a salesperson assist you with your purchase can make it easier and less stressful to select a system and they will facilitate the installation. (1.0 on a 5.0 scale)
Time investment: Easy to moderate. It’s really taking the time to shop and ask questions, especially about installation, the quality you will be receiving, guarantees, and so on. (2.0-3.0)
Cost: Moderate. The retailer will negotiate rates within their installer network, getting you the best price for installation, but it’s still more expensive than if you did it yourself.
Installation by a Plumber
If your plumbing skills are shaky, professional installation by a plumber is an excellent option. Even if it does cost a little extra money, having a professional plumber install the water softener will give you the peace of mind that it’s done correctly — by someone you may have worked with before or can check up on (which is not always the case in a retailer’s sub-contractor network).
As for availability, you may not get an appointment right away, so plan in advance to ensure your water softener is installed as soon as possible after purchase. If you have worked with a plumber in the past, more than likely he will do everything he can to accommodate your installation schedule and needs.
If you did not buy the water softener through the plumber or plumbing contractor, make sure the appliance is already on hand and ready for installation.
Pros of a Plumber
- If you lack plumbing experience, professional installation is usually affordable and will give you peace of mind that it has been done correctly.
- You may have already worked with a plumber on another project in the past and know the quality of work you will be receiving.
Cons of a Plumber
- On top of the cost of the water softener, you’ll be charged an installation fee. What’s a fair price? Are you paying too much?
- If you haven’t already purchased a water softener most plumbers will lead you toward a particular product they carry—even though it may not be the right option for your home or budget.
- As for availability, you may not get an appointment right away.
- Gather estimates from several plumbers re: installation. This can be time consuming.
Difficulty: easy to moderate. Easy if you already use a plumber. Moderate if you have to spend time finding one and following that with interviews/quotes. (1.0 to 2.0 on a 5.0 scale)
Time investment: Moderate to difficult. Again, if you are not using a plumber you have worked with before, it may take time to find one you are comfortable hiring and negotiating a final price. (4.0-5.0).
Cost: moderate to expensive. Depends on what the plumber charges you for a personalized service.