How Much Does a Water Softener System Cost to Install?

Typical Range:

$500 - $6,000

Find out how much your project will cost.

Cost data is based on research by HomeAdvisor.

Updated April 15, 2024

Reviewed by Jeff Botelho, Licensed Journeyman Plumber.

Written by HomeAdvisor.


  • Hiring a professional for water softener installation is recommended due to complexities in plumbing, electrical, and potential framing issues.

  • The average cost to install a new water softener system is $1,500, with prices ranging from $500 to $6,000.

  • The cost of a home water softener is influenced by house size, area served, labor complexities, and required permits.

  • Water softener installation may require electrical, framing, or plumbing modifications.

  • Water softeners reduce mineral buildup, provide softer, cleaner water, less soap usage, and longer-lasting pipes.

Highlights were summarized from this existing cost guide text using automation technology and were thoroughly reviewed for accuracy by HomeAdvisor Editor Ryan Noonan.

Installing a water softener system can cost as little as $500 for an ion exchanger and as much as $6,000 or more for a large dual tank system. The national average is $1,500. A water softener system flushes out heavy minerals in your home’s plumbing, which helps clean your dishes and laundry better, and alleviates rough, dry skin.

Depending on the complexity of the water softener system you choose, you should also budget an extra $150 to $1,000 for labor and any additional installation costs.

Average cost to install water softener system is $1,500, ranging from $500 to $6,000

Home Water Softener Cost Factors

Your water softener cost will depend on your home’s water usage and the intricacy of the system you want to install. 

Size of House

The water system you choose must meet your home’s needs. Start by measuring your home’s daily water capacity by testing for water hardness and the hardness level in grains per gallon (GPG) or parts per million (PPM). You can achieve this by:

  • Sending a water sample to an independent laboratory for testing.

  • Purchasing an at-home water testing kit (the most popular option).

  • Obtain a water quality report from your local water company.

Area Served

If you live in a metropolitan area, you can expect to pay higher prices for materials, labor, and installation than in rural areas due to demand and the higher cost of living. 

Also, cities with higher mineral content have much harder water than the rest of the country, including Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, Phoenix, San Antonio, and Tampa. The United States Geological Survey has a map of noting areas more prone to hard water. 


On the low end, you can expect to spend $150 to install a simple, under-the-counter unit and up to $1,000 for a whole-home or difficult-to-install water softener system.

The labor cost will depend on the complexity of your project—such as a hard-to-reach water main, new pipe installation, and the overall size of your chosen water softener system. 


Local ordinances determine whether you’ll need a permit to install a water softener. Some townships do not require permits, while others require a permit, a licensed plumber for the installation, and an inspection. Consult your installer and your local authorities to determine your local licensure requirements. 

Framing, Electrical, and Plumbing Modifications

Because these systems must meet structural requirements, you should budget for possible electrical, framing, or plumbing work.

First, you’ll want to install your softener system close to your water main. Depending on your floorplan, you may need to install new plumbing pipes—which will cost you $0.50 to $1.00 per linear foot for standard CPVC.

Next, your system requires adequate electricity to run correctly. If you don’t have electricity close to your unit, you’ll have to hire an electrician to reroute wiring, which will run about $3 to $5 per square foot.

Finally, as with any addition of plumbing or electricity, you’ll need to make sure your house is up to code. You may need to add framing to your home to bear the load of your new additions, and you can expect to pay an average of $3,750 for this project.

Single vs. Dual Tank

A single tank system is best suited for smaller households because it takes less space and costs less than a dual tank system. However, these systems typically regenerate during the night, which means the system shuts down for some time to wash out so it can soften water effectively the next day. 

This regeneration period may not work for larger households that require access to soft water at all times. In that case, you’ll want to install a dual tank softener system. While these systems take up more space and have higher upfront costs of $950 to $5,000, they have many benefits:

  • It eliminates downtime. While one tank recharges, the other is available for use.

  • Higher efficiency with less waste and less salt used.

  • Available units include traditional salt, salt-free, and reverse osmosis.

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Water Softener Prices by Type

You can expect to pay between $500 to $6,000, with an average price of $1,500, to install a new water softener system. Costs largely depend on the type of filtration system you choose and the size of your home.

Water Softener TypeAverage Price RangeTotal Install Cost
Ion Exchanger (Salt & Brine)$400 – $1,000$500 – $3,000
Salt-Free Potassium $500 – $3,000$800 – $4,000
Well Water $500 – $1,500Highly variable
Magnetic/Electronic$200 – $400$200 – $600
Water Distiller$50 – $2,000$50 – $4,000
Reverse Osmosis$100 – $1,800$1,000 – $2,800

Ion Exchanger Price

Ion exchangers or conventional water softeners are the most common type of system. They cost $500 to $3,000 to install. 

Ion exchange water softeners use salt (or sodium) to trap hard minerals in the resin tank and remove them. They undergo an “exchange” process, subbing clean sodium ions for the hardness ions. 

While they are inexpensive to install, they require regular salt refills and may not be ideal for those seeking a low-sodium diet.

Salt-Free Potassium Water Softener Price

Salt-free potassium water softeners cost $800 to $4,000. Instead of using salt or sodium to neutralize hard water ions, they use potassium. Using potassium helps to prevent buildup as ions flow through your system. 

This system is safer for septic tanks and those on low-sodium diets. But because potassium is more expensive than sodium, you’ll incur higher operational and up-front costs by choosing this softener system.

Well Water Softener System Cost

On average, a well water softener system costs $500 to $1,500, but your installer might recommend various filtration features, which could increase the total cost.

Well water softener systems run on water pumped in from your well instead of a municipal system. Due to the varying filtration, these systems often remove more minerals and impurities in your water. These extra components include chemical injectors for chlorine, iron removal, and pre-sediment filters.

You’ll also need to get a professional well test to ensure compatibility first. 

Magnetic/Electronic Softener Cost

Magnetic or electronic water softener systems are newer and cost $200 to $600—although there’s some debate about the softener's effectiveness

Magnetic softeners use magnets around your pipes to neutralize and prevent buildup. But standing water that doesn’t flush through the system can stain, and they’re not recommended for homes with extra hard water.

Electronic softeners do not work like a typical water softener filtration system. Though they are an affordable option for making water less harsh, they do not technically soften water. Rather, they make water quality better with fewer mineral ions.

Water Distiller

Water distillation systems cost $150 to $1,500 or more to install. These systems work by creating water vapor at near-boiling temperatures—getting rid of contaminants such as heavy metals, fluoride, and bacteria. 

They do not remove all chemicals; they get rid of minerals and heavy metals that will make your drinking water taste better. Installation is perfect for a DIY-er, but they work slowly and are not suitable for large capacity cleaning. 

Reverse Osmosis Filtration

Reverse osmosis filtration systems cost $1,500 on average to install. These systems work in stages to remove impurities in your water. 

Reverse osmosis filtration systems are not only water softeners, but a whole filtration system designed to both remove minerals and other harmful contaminants for drinking, too.

These are often used in tandem with other softener components and are available as a point-of-use (under sink) unit.

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Water Softener Price Comparison by Capacity

You’ll want to measure your home’s water capacity in grains-per-gallon (GPG) to determine what size water softener you’ll need for your home. 

Here are the average water softener prices by capacity:

Grains per GallonWater Softener CapacityCost Range (Excluding labor, materials, and disposal)
0 – 3,50024,000 Grains$300 – $500
3,501 – 4,50032,000 Grains$400 – $600
4,501 – 6,85048,000 Grains$500 – $800
6,851 – 9,15064,000 Grains$600 – $1,200
9,151 – 11,50080,000 Grains$1,300 – $2,000
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Water Softener Service & Maintenance Costs

Annual maintenance contracts cost $100 to $300 per year and include inspection, flushing and cleaning, and salt refills. 

In addition, ion exchange and reverse osmosis water softener systems require inspections every two to three years. You must also check the brine tank every three to four months to prevent salt buildup, ensure that the self-flush mechanism is working properly, and regularly replenish your salt or potassium.

The upkeep costs for DIY maintenance include:

  • Water treatment repairs cost: $150–$900 or more

  • Salt: $5–$10 per 40 lb. bag

  • Potassium: $50–$70 per 40 lb. bag

  • Resin: $90–$130 per bag

  • Cleaner: $8–$20 per container

  • Rust remover: $5–$10 per container

Benefits of a Water Softener

Because these systems reduce mineral buildup, you’ll enjoy softer, cleaner water—and your wallet will thank you, too.

The benefits of installing a water softener include:

  • Softer skin and smoother hair

  • Fifty percent less soap usage

  • Less buildup in your showers, sinks, tubs, and other water-touch surfaces

  • Fewer stains on all water-touch surfaces, such as shower doors, dishes, and faucets

  • Cleaner, fresher laundry

  • Longer-lasting pipes and appliances

  • Better-tasting food and water

DIY Water Softener Installation vs. Hire a Pro

We recommend that only experienced DIYers tackle under sink or countertop installs. These systems often come with complete instructions for homeowners to follow.

For larger water softener system installations, always hire a local water softener installation company due to the intricacy of plumbing, electrical, and potential framing issues.

Whether you decide to DIY your softener project or hire a pro, it’s important to follow up the installation with further water testing to ensure that your water softness level is correct,” says Jeff Botelho, Expert Review Board member and Massachusetts-licensed journeyman plumber with 15 years’ experience. “Many times, homeowners skip this step and end up using too much sodium/potassium which can be quite costly. Like many other systems, softeners need to be properly set up prior to use to optimize performance.”

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Frequently Asked Questions

How does a water softener work?

Water softeners consist of three main components: a mineral tank, a brine tank, and a control valve. Smaller units may combine the mineral tank and brine tank into one cabinet, one inside the other.

Pros install whole-home systems at the point of entry of the main water line. You’ll find smaller units installed under sinks or near a washer—these units only soften the water for that fixture, not the entire home.

  • Mineral Tank: Hard water passes into the mineral tank through resin beads, and an ion exchange happens. Magnesium and calcium ions exchange for sodium or potassium ions found in the brine tank.

  • Brine Tank: The brine tank contains sodium or potassium to recharge the resin.

  • Control Valve: The control valve determines when to clean the plastic beads.

Should I get a salt or potassium softener?

While either water softener is effective, salt or potassium systems depend on your priorities and personal preference.

A salt-based system removes hard-water minerals from your plumbing, regenerates efficiently, and is very cost-effective. However, sodium may not be suitable for those seeking a low-salt diet.

A potassium-based system neutralizes the minerals in your plumbing without removing them and regenerates more frequently than sodium. However, these systems cost more than salt systems, but they are a healthier alternative and more environmentally friendly. 

If you monitor your system after installation and test your water periodically, you should be able to maintain a safe level of sodium in your water. But, if high levels of sodium are a concern and cost isn't a major factor, a potassium system may work best.

How much capacity should my water softener have?

To calculate your home’s capacity, you’ll need to figure out your GPG number by:

  • Multiplying the number of people living in your home by 90: The average number of gallons used per person for washing, drinking, and cooking ranges from 80–100 gallons per day.

  • Multiplying that result by the hardness of your water: The average number of grains per gallon in the United States is 10 but can range from 0–17. You can find your GPG number by purchasing an at-home water testing kit.

Depending on your water hardness number, you can expect your water capacity to vary by the number of household inhabitants:

  • 5–10 water hardness= 32,000 

  • 11–20 water hardness= 32,000

  • 21–30 water hardness= 32,000–40,000

  • 31–40 water hardness= 40,000–64,000

  • 41–50 water hardness= 64,000–80,000

  • 51–75 water hardness= 64,000–80,000

  • 76–100 water hardness= 80,000–96,000

How much does water softener resin cost?

Water softener resin costs $90 to $150 per bag, and you can expect the service to cost $200 to $300.

How much salt do you put in a water softener?

You’ll want to check your owner’s manual or ask your installer for salt information. Also, each water softener has a gauge inside to tell you how much salt each unit requires. This is a good reason to consider either hiring a pro for your installation or at least to perform the initial startup and confirm that you’re using the appropriate amount of salt. Failure to test your water after installing a softener often results in a system that uses too much salt too fast, causing your water to feel slimy.

How much electricity does a water softener use?

A water softener uses about 70kW per year, like an alarm clock.

According to the Water Quality Association, you’ll save as much as 30% in energy expenses—$243 per month and $2,916 in annual savings.