How Much Does a Water Softener System Cost?

Average National Cost
? All cost data throughout this article are collected using the RS Means construction materials database.
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$200 - $11,000

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Updated On

February 16, 2024

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Softer skin, healthier hair, less buildup in your plumbing system, fewer buildup issues with your appliances — the list of benefits associated with water softeners is impressive, to say the least. But how much does a water softener system cost? As with any home improvement project or large appliance purchase, it’s good to know what to expect as far as cost goes. 

We have years of experience dealing with all aspects of water softener systems and devoted dozens of hours of research to determining the average cost of water softeners. We’ve distilled our experience and data into a handy, easy-to-follow guide that walks you through what to expect from water softener system costs. 

Click the link below to get a water softener quote from a local pro today. 

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Highlights
  • Most homeowners pay around $1,500 for a water softener system.
  • Water softener costs vary drastically by type and grain capacity.
  • Installing a water softener can be a DIY-friendly project, but many installations require professional expertise.

How Much Does a Water Softener System Cost?

The cost of a water softener is highly dependent on factors specific to your installation, including the type of water softener you choose, its capacity, and your location. On average, most homeowners pay about $1,500 for a water softener system, although the range extends from $200 to $11,000

LowAverageHigh
$200$1,500$11,000

Wondering how a water softener works? Check out this video for a great visual explanation.


How Does Water Softener System Cost Differ By Type?

The type of water softener system you choose will greatly impact the final cost you pay. Some systems, like the point-of-use reverse osmosis system, are more affordable than others like the double tank ion exchange water softener. The chart below provides a quick peek into average costs based on system type. 

Water Softener System TypeAverage Cost
Point-of-use reverse osmosis$100 – $500
Magnetic $200 – $600
Single tank ion exchange$400 – $1,700
Salt-free conditioner$500 – $3,000
Double tank ion exchange$1,000 – $2,500
Water distiller$1,200 – $4,000
Whole-house reverse osmosis$4,000 – $11,000

Point-of-Use Reverse Osmosis

A point-of-use reverse osmosis system is ideal for focused uses. For example, you might want filtered water from your sink for drinking, cooking, and cleaning dishes. So, to achieve this result, you might install a point-of-use reverse osmosis system at that fixture. 

These systems are common in kitchens, especially those with a separate faucet specifically for filtered drinking water. On average, they cost between $100 and $500

Magnetic

A magnetic water softener is another option for homeowners seeking a hard water solution. These systems use electromagnetic coils to remove specific particles that cause hard water, including magnesium and calcium. They don’t use salt, making them an excellent choice for those on low-sodium diets. 

It’s important to note that these models can only effectively remove the minerals that come within reach of the electromagnetic coils. 

These systems are fairly affordable, usually coming in at around $200 to $600

Single Tank Ion Exchange

A single-tank ion exchange water softener features one resin tank and one brine tank. The former holds resin beads, while the latter stores the salt. These water softeners are particularly popular among homeowners as they can provide ample softened water without consuming too much space. 

However, these systems can run out of soft water if you hit capacity. When this happens, the system regenerates, but there’s no softened water during this time. 

On average, these systems cost between $400 and $1,700.

Salt-Free Conditioner

A salt-free water softener is another option for homeowners who want the benefits of a water softener without salt. These systems function by manipulating the chemical makeup of water, crystallizing the hard minerals to prevent them from forming scale inside your home’s plumbing. 

So, while the minerals are still there, they won’t wreak havoc on your plumbing by building into a thick, chalky layer. These systems usually cost between $500 and $3,000.

Double Tank Ion Exchange

Double-tank ion exchange water softeners (dual-tank water softeners) feature two resin tanks and one brine tank. These systems are popular in business and commercial settings, as they automatically switch to the second resin tank when the first tank hits capacity. This ensures you have plenty of soft water when you need it. 

Since dual-tank systems provide plenty of soft water all the time, they’re becoming increasingly popular in residential settings. On average, they cost between $1,000 and $2,500

Water Distiller

A water distiller provides a home water treatment method for achieving contaminant-free water. To do this, the system converts the water into a vapor through heating and then condenses it back into its liquid state.

Through this process, various contaminants and impurities, including bacteria and heavy metals, are removed from the water. These impurities can’t turn into steam, so they’re left behind when the water turns into vapor. The result? Highly purified water. 

Generally, these systems cost between $1,200 and $4,000

Whole-House Reverse Osmosis

A whole-house reverse osmosis system is another potential solution to soften water in your home. These systems use pressure to push the water through a semi-permeable membrane. The membrane filters out contaminants, resulting in filtered water. 

Whole-house reverse osmosis systems are pricey, as they filter all the water you use in your home. They usually cost between $4,000 and $11,000


How Does Capacity Affect Water Softener System Prices?

The capacity of your water softener is a major factor that contributes to the overall price of the system. Water softener size is measured in grain capacity, which is the number of grains of water hardness the system can remove from your home’s water before a new regeneration cycle. So, if you have very hard water, you should use a water softener with a larger grain capacity. Water softeners with smaller grain capacities are less expensive than those with larger grain capacities. 

Larger-grain-capacity systems can handle higher volumes of water, making them suitable for larger homes. The most suitable capacity for your home hinges on the number of people in your household, your water’s hardness, and the overall water usage in your home. 

Most whole-house water softeners have a capacity of 24,000 grains or more. However, while there are smaller models out there, they usually are comparable to their 24,000-grain comrades. The chart below offers a quick overview of average prices based on grain capacity. 

CapacityAverage Cost
24,000 grains or less$300 to $600
32,000 grains$400 to $1,000
48,000 grains$500 to $1,200
64,000 grains$1,000 to $1,500
80,000 grains$1,200 to $1,800
96,000 grains or more$1,500 to $2,500

Besides standalone water softeners, you can purchase a water softener with reverse osmosis technology for additional filtration. In total, these whole-house reverse osmosis systems costs $4,000 and $11,000.

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Which Factors Impact Water Softener System Cost Estimates?

Aside from the major contributing factors to water softener system cost, there are a handful of additional factors to keep in mind as you collect estimates, including those discussed below. 

Labor

When doing any home project, whether you’re renovating a bathroom or installing a water softener, labor is a critical consideration. It can have a major impact on the final cost of your project, so it’s an essential piece of the budgeting puzzle. 

On average, licensed plumbers charge between $50 and $200 an hour. These charges can quickly rack up during difficult water softener installations that consume extra time. 

Water Testing

When considering your water softener needs, it doesn’t hurt to start with a water test to see how hard your water is. This will give you a more detailed understanding of what you’re working with and help you select the best option moving forward. 

Simple DIY tests are inexpensive — usually less than $50. However, it’s not a bad idea to have a professional conduct a more in-depth test if you have water concerns or a private well. This can cost up to ten times the price of a DIY test, climbing to as much as $500

Today’s Homeowner Tips
You should do a DIY water test before getting a quote for a water softener from a professional. This will help ensure your provider’s recommendations and tests are accurate.

Size

Your home’s water consumption and the degree of hardness of your water can help you determine the correct water softener system size to purchase, which will affect cost. 

To determine your water usage, take the number of people in your home and multiply it by 90 (the average number of gallons of water each person uses in a day). For example, for a five-person home, this comes out to 450. 

Once you have the consumption number, multiply it by the number of grains per gallon in your water (the measure of your water hardness). If you don’t know the hardness level of your water, check it using a home kit or send a sample to a lab.

To continue with our example, if you live in Chicago, your water hardness is around eight grains per gallon, multiplied by 450 equals 3,600. The system size needed is around 10 times this figure, or 36,000 grains. 

You can also ask your installer for help determining the best system size based on your household’s unique needs. 

Plumbing

When adding a water softener to your home’s setup, you might need to augment your home’s plumbing. Sometimes you can tie the system into existing plumbing, but in other cases you might need to add a new plumbing loop that redirects softened water to the appropriate locations. 

If you need to add new plumbing, such as a soft water loop, you can expect to pay between $500 and $2,000

Maintenance

As with any appliance in your home, maintenance is essential to keep a water softener running smoothly. The cost of water softener maintenance hinges on what needs doing, but most homeowners pay between $100 and $900 annually.

Installation 

Unless you plan to install your water softener system yourself, you’ll need to factor in the cost of professional installation. Most homeowners pay anywhere from $150 to $1,000 in labor costs to have their water softeners installed. 

The exact cost you’ll pay for your system installation will hinge on factors specific to you, including the complexity of the installation and the unit type. 

Location and Permits

Your location and local permitting requirements will play a key role in determining the final cost of your water softener. Certain states and municipalities require permits for water softener installations. Talk to your local building authority or installer to determine what permits may be needed and how much they cost. 

In addition, your location contributes to the cost. Areas prone to hard water, such as Phoenix or Tampa, often have higher installation costs for water softener systems due to the high demand.

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What Are the Benefits of a Water Softener System?

Incorporating a water softener system can supply a host of benefits to your daily life, from softer skin and hair to savings on soap and bottled water. Soft water is also kinder to your home’s plumbing and appliances than hard water, potentially extending their lifespans. 

Gentler on Plumbing

Hard water isn’t kind to the plumbing in your home. After decades of hard water coursing through your home’s plumbing, issues are bound to arise. Scale and mineral deposits may build up in and around plumbing and plumbing fixtures, including your shower heads. 

For example, you might notice your tap isn’t working as well as it used to. Upon further investigation, you discover the internal components are clogged with pesky mineral deposits, hindering the faucet’s operation. 

Alternatively, you might notice issues with drains, pipes, appliances, and kitchenware, from full-blown plumbing problems to minor buildup here and there. When you switch to soft water, these problems are no longer relevant. Of course, you’ll need to clean the gunk away, but once it’s gone, the problem shouldn’t be recurring.

Save on Soap

You may notice a drastic difference in your soap use from hard water to soft water. In hard water, soaps usually dissolve and lather poorly, often triggering people to use more soap than necessary. 

In contrast, soaps lather beautifully in soft water, often lessening the amount of soap people use. This can help you save more in the long run by having to purchase soap less frequently.

Silky Skin and Hair

Hard water does a number on our skin and hair, leaving a cakey residue of chemicals and minerals. These minerals and chemicals can dry out the skin and hair, leaving it feeling itchy and dull. With water softeners, these problems become a thing of the past.

The softened water doesn’t leave a pesky residue — instead leaving your skin feeling softer than ever. Some people even experience less irritated skin, noting less dryness and itchiness. 

Tasty Water 

Do you buy bottled water from your local supermarket because your tap water has an off taste? You’re not alone. Many folks purchase bottled drinking water due to unpleasant tastes in their tap water — often due to its high mineral content. 

Depending on your water hardness level, you may notice your home’s water tastes a lot better after adding a water filtration system. You might even decide to drink tap water instead of purchasing flat upon flat of bottled water. This switch could save you quite a bit on bottled water costs and reduce your use of plastics. 


Professional vs. DIY Water Softener Installation

Water softener installations range from DIY-friendly to needing a professional. Generally, simpler installations like small point-of-use softeners are DIY friendly, while larger setups requiring plumbing and electrical work are tougher to complete and call for professional assistance. 

Doing a Water Softener System Yourself

Water softener DIY installation is 100% doable. However, it’s important to note that there are exceptions, as some projects are trickier than others. Small water softeners, like point-of-use reverse osmosis systems, are generally easy to install and DIY-friendly. 

However, larger systems, like whole-house water softeners, are often tricky to install. If you plan to install a whole-house water softener, local law may require hiring a professional to install the system. Of course, this depends on where you live, so it’s best to check. 

Hiring a Professional for a Water Softener System

While you can DIY your water softener installation project, it’s usually best to hire a professional. This way, you don’t need to worry about leaky or faulty connections. You can rest assured knowing that your system was installed properly. Here’s how to find and hire a local plumbing professional to install a water softener in your home: 

  1. Research: Look online for local plumbers near you specializing in water softener installation. Also, look for water softener contractors. 
  2. Talk with friends and family: Chances are high that someone in your social circle knows a trustworthy and affordable plumber that can help with your project. 
  3. Read reviews: Before hiring a local pro, read online reviews (such as from Yelp, Google, and Trustpilot) and check the business’s Better Business Bureau (BBB) page for more information. 
  4. Test your water hardness: You can purchase water testing kits online or request them from your local municipality. Alternatively, your plumbing contractor can test hardness when they provide an estimate. 
  5. Ask for quotes: Choose a few of the top options to provide you with written estimates. The contractor may need to visit your home before providing a quote. 
  6. Pick the top provider: Using the information above, choose the provider that best fits your needs and budget. 
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So, Is a Water Softener System Worth It?

A water softener system can be an excellent investment that sprinkles benefits throughout your daily life, from softer skin to savings on bottled water and soap. Of course, those that benefit most from these systems have hard water in their homes — particularly those that are on well water.  

If you already have softer water, installing a water softener might not make sense. Ultimately, the decision is yours. If you think your household would benefit from softened water, then, by all means, install a water softener. You can expect to pay an average of $1,500 for the project, although the cost for your setup might be higher or lower, based on factors specific to you. 


FAQs About Water Softener Systems

What is the downside of a water softener?

While water softeners can be incredibly beneficial, they aren’t without downsides. For example, the water could be too soft (there may be excessive sodium in it, which may not be suitable for individuals on a low-sodium diet). That said, you can toggle and program your water softener to get your home’s water to the perfect softness.


Is a water softener worth the expense?

Installing a water softener can be well worth it for many homeowners, as these systems offer numerous benefits. If your home has hard water, a water softener can be an excellent solution to relieve stress on your plumbing system and provide other benefits. However, the answer to this question is ultimately up to you.


How many years does a water softener last?

A water softener can last anywhere from 10 to 15 years. Of course, the exact lifespan hinges on factors specific to your scenario, including how well you maintain the system, the type of water softening system you have, and how much water you use in your household.


How does a water softener work?

A water softener is designed to soften water by removing minerals, including calcium and magnesium, that create water hardness. The system removes these minerals using a process called ion exchange. As hard water enters the mineral tank in a water softener setup, it passes through a bed of resin beads. These beads are charged with a sodium ion and have a negative charge, whereas the minerals in hard water have a positive charge.

Opposites attract, and the minerals in the hard water attach to the beads, effectively eliminating them from the water. As this happens, the bead releases sodium ions, resulting in soft water containing sodium.


Editorial Contributors
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Jonathon Jachura

Contributor

Jonathon Jachura is a two-time homeowner with hands-on experience with HVAC, gutters, plumbing, lawn care, pest control, and other aspects of owning a home. He is passionate about home maintenance and finding the best services. His main goal is to educate others with crisp, concise descriptions that any homeowner can use. Jon uses his strong technical background to create engaging, easy-to-read, and informative guides. He does most of his home and lawn projects himself but hires professional companies for the “big things.” He knows what goes into finding the best service providers and contractors. Jon studied mechanical engineering at Purdue University in Indiana and worked in the HVAC industry for 12 years. Between his various home improvement projects, he enjoys the outdoors, a good cup of coffee, and spending time with his family.

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Roxanne Downer

Editor

Roxanne Downer is a commerce editor at Today’s Homeowner, where she tackles everything from foundation repair to solar panel installation. She brings more than 15 years of writing and editing experience to bear in her meticulous approach to ensuring accurate, up-to-date, and engaging content. She’s previously edited for outlets including MSN, Architectural Digest, and Better Homes & Gardens. An alumna of the University of Pennsylvania, Roxanne is now an Oklahoma homeowner, DIY enthusiast, and the proud parent of a playful pug.

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