How much do water softeners cost?

Last updated on: December 1, 2022.

Water softeners are used to eliminate hard minerals that cause high hardness levels in our homes. Hard minerals include calcium and magnesium. Some regions also have trace amounts of iron in the water. Water is usually supplied from the city or comes from the well in homes.

Many areas of the country tend to use their own wells to get water, and this water contains more than hardness-causing minerals. It also contains other contaminants from pollution or surrounding areas.

The water undergoes a treatment when it reaches the cities before getting supplied to the homes. However, all water goes through pipes and gathers other contaminants along the way. 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not stipulate a standard for water hardness because the hard minerals are not toxic. They are not considered harmful to health. Instead, they are considered a nuisance.

Hard minerals make the water hard, and it can be annoying as it tends to leave a filmy residue on the skin and causes scale buildup in our pipes and the plumbing system. It also makes our clothes dull and old.

Moreover, hard water leaves behind white or gray spots on our tiles in the bathroom and even on kitchenware and glassware. Other symptoms of hard water are also easy to spot, including higher soap usage and use of fabric softeners, extra water used to remove soap crud, scale buildup in faucets and sinks, and more.

There are a few categories that identify hardness levels:

  • 0-60 mg/L as calcium carbonate – soft water
  • 61-120 mg/L as calcium carbonate – moderately hard
  • 121-180 mg/L as calcium carbonate – hard water
  • 180 mg/L or more as calcium carbonate – high hardness level

Water utility companies try to provide water that is not in the hard category to prevent homeowners from dealing with scaling and the need for increased soap and washing detergents.

Families living in regions that have high hardness levels in the water buy water softeners and have them installed to ensure that there is a regular supply of softened water.  

How much does a water softener cost?

durawater water softener

Water softeners can cost anywhere between $300 and $4000 depending on the type and brand of the unit and its installation. Water softeners that use potassium or sodium may also bring recurring costs over time.

However, what you spend on a water softener depends on the hardness levels of the water. You can find the answer through a home test or a test conducted by professionals. 

In this article, we will be looking at a few of the cheapest options and evaluating their efficacy. But first, we will discuss factors that influence the cost of a water softener. 

Size of the unit and water softener system

Without a doubt, the size and type of the water softener play a big part in the unit’s initial cost. For instance, if we have a large home, our water usage will be high.

Essentially, we need a larger quantity of water for a bigger home and a water softener with high efficiency. On the other hand, smaller homes consume less water and need a smaller unit, which in turn will be less costly.

The capacity (amount of water a softener can soften) is also a factor. You can measure this capacity in grains per gallon (GPG). The GPG level you need is based on the hardness level of your water supply and the number of people using the water. 

Typically, the grain capacity of water softeners is 20,000 to 80,000. If the house is small and only two to three people live in it, you would need a mid-sized water softener with a 20,000-grain capacity.

On the other hand, a larger house with five to six people may need a 32,000-grain capacity or 48,000-grain water softener. Naturally, the 32,000-grain capacity water softener will cost more than the 20,000-grain capacity unit.

Is it worth installing a water softener?

installing whirlpool softener

Water softeners are becoming increasingly popular as more people find it desirable, if not necessary, to have a regular supply of softened water.

Fortunately, there are several brands, including high-end water softeners and more budget-friendly units.

Considering the numerous benefits that one can enjoy from softened water, investing in a water softener is a no-brainer.

Moreover, the levels of pollution continue to rise, and water purity and softness will continue to be in demand.

The long-term impact of hard water on our clothes, household appliances, pipes, and plumbing systems makes it clear that installing a water softener is the obvious answer.

Therefore, it is worth investing in a quality water softener, especially when we think of how much longer our appliances can last.

How much does a water softener cost to rent?

If you don’t want to see how too much calcium and magnesium affect your skin, hair, clothes, and appliances, you can have a water softener installed in your home.

But if you are living in a rental place, you may not be able to or want to buy a water softener. It is common for water specialists to offer rentals near your place.

Renting a water softener will help in saving on the upfront cost. It can also save on repairs and maintenance. However, you may need to sign up for a one-year contract at a fixed monthly rate.

For those who move around the country on temporary jobs, it is better to arrange a rental water softener in your temporary residence.

It will cost anywhere between $20 and $50 per month on average for a water softener rental but will depend on the local rates, the size of the unit, and its features. The total annual amount could be between $240 to $600 a year. 

Water Softener: Renting Vs. Buying?

brand new water softener

Are you wondering whether you should rent or buy a water softener? Then, you will find this information handy.

Once you have decided to install one to enjoy softened water, you can explore both options and take a call on the direction you want to take. 

Advantages and disadvantages of renting a water softener

Advantages of renting a Water Softener 

The list of pros to renting a water softener includes: 

  • You won’t need to make a large down payment to rent a water softener.
  • Your agreement with the rental company will include maintenance and repairs. If the water softener needs repairs or stops working, the financial burden won’t be on you.
  • Rental water softeners can be exchanged if you are not satisfied with their performance. 
  • You can cancel the rental agreement if you need to move or if you decide to buy one instead. 
Disadvantages of renting a water softener 

Some of the cons to renting a water softener for your home include:

  • You have fewer choices of types and units. You may find only older models among the rentals. 
  • While it saves you the upfront cost of buying one, it will still be costlier in the long term with their monthly rentals. 
  • If the water softener is an old unit, you will have the hassle of frequent repairs. It may also have a lasting effect on your household appliances due to inefficiency. 
  • Your landlord may not be okay with having you install a water softener if you are a tenant. 

Advantages and disadvantages of buying a water softener

Advantages of buying a water softener

There are several benefits to buying a water softener:

  • You will save money over time. Your new water softener may cost more upfront, but it will be more efficient. It will also save you money from spending on soaps and detergents.
  • You have more to choose from, and you can select from all the brands in the market. 
  • New water softeners are more energy efficient. This would save energy and help you save on monthly utility bills. 
  • If you are making a down payment and plan to pay off the rest in a monthly payment plan, the unit becomes yours after the payment. Any other cost will be only for regular upkeep. 
  • Since it is a new water softener, you will have fewer repairs and issues, if any.
  • New units come with warranties. They usually have a one-year warranty, although you can extend this warranty to three years. Some manufacturers offer a three-year warranty on electronic parts and a 10-year warranty on the tank.
  • Retailers offer comfortable payment plans on new water softeners. There may be financing options available for those who want to own a water softener system but have a tight budget
Disadvantages of buying a water softener

Here are some of the disadvantages of buying a water softener: 

  • You may find the upfront cost beyond your capability because it may come up to around $1,500 for your water softener system.
  • The cost of repairs will be yours, especially after the warranty period expires. 
  • Tenants may have a harder time, especially if the landlord doesn’t allow water softener installation. It is also a hassle if you have to move it to a new home. 

Another difference between renting and buying a water softener is the cost. As mentioned above, the cost of renting will be around $20 – $50 per month, depending on the size of the unit.

And the cost of buying a new water softener can vary from $500 to even $6000 depending on the water softening system you choose. 

How much does water softener salt cost?

water softener pellets

Water softener salt costs between $5 and $10 per 40-lb. bag for the standard sodium chloride. The cost of potassium chloride is higher and can be between $25 and $35 per 40-lb. bag.

Most homes use 1 to 2 bags per month, depending on the water number of residents, hardness levels, tank capacity, and type of salt.

How much does it cost to maintain a water softener?

The cost of maintaining a water softener to ensure optimum performance can vary depending on the type of water softener, local service rates, and the age of the unit. But, you can expect it to be around $150 to $600 on average.

When you call in a water softener service technician, the cost of inspection alone may be between $40 and $100.

Fortunately, you can enter into an annual service and maintenance contract and incur less cost.

Typically, these contracts are between $100 and $250 per year and will include inspection, cleaning, repairs, salt refills, and other maintenance work. 

How much does a whole house water softener cost?

Water softeners can cost anywhere between $300 and $4000, based on the type and quality of the water softener and installation costs.

The better a whole-house water softening system is at softening the water, the more expensive it will be.

Another thing to include in the cost is the installation. This cost will vary depending on the company that sells and installs the water softener.

It also depends on the type of water softener being installed and the condition and accessibility of your home.

For instance, homeowners can pay anywhere from $400 for a DIY installation to $4,000 for a professional. The types of water softeners include ion-exchangers (salt-based), salt-free, dual tank water softeners, and magnetic.

Salt-based units

Salt-based water softening systems are the most common, reliable, and affordable in the market. Salt-based water softening systems pay for themselves over time. Salt-based units cost anywhere from $400 to $3000, depending on the size of your household.

Additionally, you must keep in mind that there is a cost for installation. You may need to add changing salt when necessary with an average price of $5 to $25 per 40 pounds.

Salt-free water conditioners

Salt-free water softeners, or conditioners as they are often called, will have a slightly higher cost for potassium chloride instead of sodium. The salt-free water softeners range from $400 to$ 4000 per unit. The wide range in price is based on the brand, water softener capacity, hardness levels of water, etc.

Dual or twin-tank water softeners

Twin-Tank water softeners are more efficient with no downtime as one of the two tanks continues to soften water while the other one goes through the regeneration process.

This is especially helpful when you have a large household, and the water consumption is high. These water softeners cost from $1000 to $2,000. The starting price is higher than the single tank water softener. 

Magnetic water softeners

Magnetic water softeners are new and are plug-in devices. They are the least expensive and come at around $200. Water testing associations are still debating the quality and effectiveness of magnetic or electronic water softeners as to their water softening capabilities.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Should every house have a water softener?

It is hard to say if every house should have a water softener. It is a personal choice and the tolerance levels for hard water.

Moreover, not everyone can afford a water softener, rental or otherwise. However, water softeners do serve a purpose and can bring a lot of convenience and cost savings.

For instance, you will be increasing the shelf-life of household appliances as there will be little to no limescale buildup. You will also save your pipes and the plumbing system in your home.

What’s more, you will use less soap and less water to wash and protect your clothes from the ravages of long-term hard water usage.

With so many benefits from a water softener, you can see why it would be an advantage to have a water softener in your home. 

2. Does water softener increase home value?

A water softener does increase the value of your home. It saves money on a daily basis by ensuring your utility bills are low and your household appliances are safe from scale buildup. Having a water softener installed in your home can increase your home’s value when you are ready to sell.

3. Are all water softeners the same?

All water softeners are not the same. There are different types of water softeners – Salt-based ion-exchange water softeners, salt-free water conditioners, RO water softening systems, and magnetic or electronic systems, and they use different methods to treat hard water. They are also of different brands that have extra features. 

4. How much does it cost to service a water softener?

Apart from adding salt to your water softener and cleaning out the brine tank, many water softener manufacturers suggest that you get your unit serviced annually.

Most people enter into an annual service contract to make sure that the water softener always works efficiently. Service may cost between $100 to $250 annually. 

5. How much would it cost to have an old water softener removed?

You may find it hard to remove your old water softener, especially if it is a whole-house system. Calling professionals to help you with the uninstallation and removal could cost you from $50 to $100.

But if you have a service contract as part of buying a new water softener, removal could be free. Smaller and portable water softeners can be removed by you and will naturally cost you nothing.

6. Which is more economical, RO or water softener?

Water softener

Water softeners use ion exchange to replace minerals that cause your water to be hard with sodium or potassium, making your water soft. 

Reverse osmosis system

RO systems are installed near the sink or under it providing softened water from a single point of use.  

Salt-based water softeners, single or dual tanks, can be more expensive than your RO system. But for the long-term economy, you may prefer a whole-house water softener to cover all water supply and protect your plumbing and household appliances.  

7. What brand of water softener is best?

There are different brands of water softeners on the market. The SpringWell SS salt-based water softener system is considered one of the best water softeners. The SoftPro Elite water softener for well water is known for its superior quality and yet is budget-friendly.

Conclusion

While water that contains hard minerals like calcium and magnesium may not be hazardous to health, it is still not easy to live with and can be a nuisance.

Fortunately, we don’t have to tolerate hard water anymore as there are salt-based ion-exchange systems, salt-free water conditioners, RO systems, and newer electronic or magnetic systems on the market.

We hope that this article can help you understand water softeners and how much it will cost you to invest in one. And hopefully, this information can help you pick and choose one that will be a good addition to your household appliances and well within your budget, and give you softened water through the years.

About The Author

Our Web Producer

Judith— a passionate water treatment specialist — is a wastewater management enthusiast, clean drinking water advocate, and someone with deep personal experience and knowledge about various water equipment. Her work was mentioned in countless notable water associations. Previously she was an editor at Water Alliance.