Summary: How much does a water softener cost, average water softener installation costs and average price for a water softener.
For many people, the idea of soft or hard water is a subject which is little understood and therefore considered largely irrelevant. After all, of the myriad of adjectives that could be used to describe water, ‘hard’ is surely the most contradictory. In fact, the conclusion as to whether water is hard or soft has to do with mineral deposits; hard water has a high mineral substance, whilst soft water has a lower mineral content. The minerals in question are mainly calcium and magnesium. In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland the classification of water as hard or soft varies widely depending on the particular location. If one had to generalise however, the water would be categorised as soft to fairly soft. England’s water level scale on the other hand is relatively hard to very hard, with pockets between London and Brighton being slightly hard to moderately hard. So how could we find out whether we are in a hard water area? There is a very simple experiment to establish this. If, when running household water over some soap or toothpaste it does not lather easily, then the water is hard but if it lathers rapidly then the water is soft. Unfortunately, one downside to having hard water as your household supply, is that it eventually leads to household appliances developing scum, scale and corrosion.
|Water softener (Salt free)||£800 – £2,600||2019||n/a|
|Water softener (Sodium-based |
|£600 – £1,200||2019||n/a|
|Installation||£100 – £500||2019||n/a|
Factors to consider
Water softeners were developed to combat this and other problems associated with hard water. Having softened water in the house can reduce the need for replacement or maintenance of showers, heaters, boilers, washing machines and dishwashers that can be damaged due to a build up of hard water scale. This is caused by lime, chalk and other minerals forming on all surfaces the water comes into contact with. A water softener can also improve the efficiency of hot water and heating systems. The British Water Quality Group demonstrates that in the average four person household softened water can save up to £200 annually – 1.6mm of scale build up will in effect result in 12% to 15% loss of heating efficiency. Softened water can help with dry skin conditions including eczema and it can also help remove hard water scale marks around taps, basins and baths.
Water softening is a technique that removes the ions that cause the water to be hard, in most cases calcium and magnesium ions and then replaces them with sodium ions. The water softening system uses a mineral tank which is connected to the incoming water inlet and serves as a storage facility for the water. Contained in this tank are a great many resin beads. A second tank is attached to this and is known as the brine tank. The brine tank contains a sodium solution. Most water softeners have an automatic regeneration cycle, which is a process where a pump periodically expels the brine solution into the mineral tank and flushes out all the ‘hard water ions’. This final result is a tank of ‘soft’ water which is useable on demand in the household.
Costs to consider
The cost of the system varies and is dependent on the type of system required. At the higher end of the scale, salt-free water softeners can cost up to £2,600. The more common sodium-based system as described above costs between £800 and £1,200 depending on the model required. These are available in timer-based and on-demand versions. The timer versions soften the same amount of water each day and as a result they are cheaper to buy.
The on-demand models soften the water as needed. Although timer-based water softeners are possibly up to £200 cheaper than on-demand models, the latter will usually provide a longer-term cost saving as only the exact amount of water required is being softened. Salt-based water softeners require the owner to add salt to the brine tank which for a family of four equates to an additional cost of approximately £120 annually.
The cost for a plumber to install a water softener is £100 – £500 depending on the system. For a do-it-yourself installation, basic plumbing and soldering would be required – and the allowance of plenty of time. Installation is preceded by shutting off the main water supply and draining all the pipes of water, before cutting into the main water inlet line. It is advisable that potential amateur installers have at least some experience of this type of work before tackling this project, but if this is the case then the installation should present no particular problems.