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Water Softener Installation Costs

Published January 7, 2024
Written by Eric Smith
Water Softener Installation Costs

Straight talk from our Wisconsin Master Tradesman about the true total cost of water softener installations and water softener replacements.

In 2024, hard water is just not something folks should be dealing with. It ruins high dollar plumbing fixtures and appliances such as water heaters. In this cost analysis article, our Master Tradesman breaks down the cost for Wisconsin homeowners who are looking to install a new water softener or install a replacement water softener. 

In 2024, installing a residential water softener can cost roughly $800 at the low end and $3,800 at the high end. The average cost to furnish and install a water softener designed for Wisconsin water conditions is around $2,500.

A water softener installation at the bottom end of this range would cover the installation of an owner-provided water softener, and at the upper end of this range would cover all of the costs associated with getting a new water softener installed that is designed for your home. We know, this kind of a cost range isn’t all that helpful. But water softener installation can mean different things to different people. Let’s drill this water softener installation cost article down a bit deeper.

What are the major factors that determine the true total cost of a water softener installation?

Here are the four major items that combine to total the cost to install a replacement water softener. 

Water Quality & End Goals

Water softeners should be designed and sized to be able to handle the unique properties of your water, as well as achieving the end goals that you have in mind after your new water conditioning system is installed. In our service area in Wisconsin, we have clients on both city water and well water. The type and size of water softener may change based on if you have city water or a private well. 

Equipment & Materials

As mentioned earlier, some of what determines the overall water conditioning system cost will be the chemistry of the water, but beyond that, the softener you choose is completely in your control. When choosing a water softener brand, we at Austin Plumbing, Heating & Air recommend you choose a product that is manufactured locally (the units we recommend are made in Madison, Wisconsin) to ensure that you get the most out of your investment by having a softner specifically designed for the type of Wisconsin water you have.

Accessory & Companion Filtration 

Oftentimes at the time of a water softener installation, clients consider installing companion filtration systems. Some of the most common additional water filtration systems installed at the same time of water softeners are:

  • Iron filters or iron curtain systems
  • RO systems or reverse osmosis drinking water systems 
  • Water scrubbers (to remove the harsh chemicals added to city water)
  • PFAS filters (to remove the chemicals commonly found in the drinking water in our market)

The Installation

The work it takes to install the water softener will largely depend on the configuration of your plumbing system. Already have a water softener and you’re just looking to replace the existing one? In this case, there should be little to no plumbing system modifications necessary to complete the install of your new water softener. On the other hand, if you have a new construction home or a home that doesn’t have a water softener, some major plumbing system modifications may need to be made to accommodate the new water softener. One of the most common modifications that needs to be made is separating out the outdoor hose faucets so you’re not using soft water for lawn irrigation and other outdoor activities. 

Now, it’s time for the nitty-gritty! Let’s look a little closer at each of these categories.

Potential Cost of Water Softener Equipment and Materials: ~$800–$2,200

This is the lion’s share of the tangible costs in a water softener installation; the water softener itself and material costs related to the installation falling in line second. Variables that will affect the equipment and material costs:

  • Your water quality 
  • The type and kind of softener you choose 
  • Smart water softener or manual water softener
  • Salt efficiency rating of the equipment 

Water Softener Equipment Costs

Team Austin is not a retailer, so we do not sell equipment separately from our installation services. However, as a purchaser and installer of water softeners, our due diligence involves an understanding of the market in which we participate. The following estimates are based on more than eight decades of experience and research.

  • Standard water softener for city water: $700$1,400
  • Standard water softener for well water: $800$1,500
  • High efficiency water softener for city water : $800$1,500
  • High efficiency water softener for well water: $1,000$1,700
  • High demand water softener: $1,800+ 

Water Softener Installation Materials: ~$150–$500

Even the most basic water conditioner installation or replacement takes certain fittings and materials to make it happen. Because softeners and other water conditioning equipment doesn’t come with these materials automatically, these are typically supplied by the installation company. 

What are some common examples of materials used to install water softeners?

These often include:

  • Water shut-off valves
  • Copper water pipe and fittings 
  • CPVC pipe & fittings for the water softener drain 
  • Other miscellaneous installation materials 

Water Softener Installation: ~$500–$1,800

For reasons of compatibility, your existing water softener or lack thereof, plays a role in determining the cost of the water softener installation by itself. 

In short, the more dramatic the change, the more complex the installation must be—and therefore the greater impact it will have on your total cost.

What is typically included in the installation cost of a water softener: 

  • Delivery of the new softener (if we supply it)
  • Floor protection materials (drop cloths or other methods)
  • Removal, haulaway, and disposal of your old softener by a secondary support technician
  • Connecting the new water softener to the water distribution system
  • Installing, replacing or connecting to the the existing softener drain 
  • Installation of any accessories purchased
  • Completion of any necessary plumbing code updates 
  • Start up & salt
  • Customer training and install overview
  • Warranty registration and post-installation followup

Water Softener Permit Costs- $125

In most of the Southeastern Wisconsin communities we serve, permits are required even to perform a like-for-like water softener replacement. This assures our customers that their new water conditioning system was installed to code and to the highest standards of craftsmanship, because the local building inspector will be back to confirm that everything is perfect.

The permit itself almost never exceeds $125 in price. However, there are rare cases in which a building inspector requests additional modifications to the existing plumbing system upon inspection, which may lead to additional costs not predicted before the initial replacement.

Potential Cost of Accessories & Companion Filtration: $450-$3,500

For many, a water softener is a bare necessity to have water that is suitable to wash dishes with and to bathe in and only part of a true whole home water filtration system. 

Most Commonly Purchased Accessories and Additional Filtration Systems With a Softener  

  • Reverse Osmosis (RO) Drinking Water Systems- These are point of use drinking water systems that provide bottled water quality water at an extremely cost effective rate. RO’s are considered point of use filters because they can only provide filtered water at a dedicated faucet at a sink and/or water supply to a refrigerator or icemaker.
  • PFAS Filters- Another point of use water filtration system commonly installed with a replacement water softener is a PFAS filter. These filters remove PFAS’s from the water (AKA- forever chemicals) and can filter the water to an existing faucet without the need of a stand alone tap like an RO requires.
  • Water Scrubbers- These whole home chemical reduction filters are designed to reduce (and in most cases remove) all of the harmful chemicals that are added to typical city water in our market.
  • Iron Filters or Iron Curtain Systems- If your home has a private well and a water softener, chances are good that you also have an iron filter. Having a properly working iron filter before a water softener is critical in order to keep the water softener working properly, which is why the two are commonly replaced as a pair. 

FAQ’s Around Water Softener Installations 

Am I better off renting a water softener?

The short answer is NO! Read our in depth financial breakdown of renting vs. buying a water softener for the long answer. 

How long do water softeners last?

When sized and installed properly, the useful life of a water softener is 10-15 years. Frequently running out of salt, high levels of chlorine in the water, and iron will dramatically reduce the lifespan of a water softener. 

Water Softener Installation Freebies for Choosing Team Austin

The “Austin Factor” is elusive to describe, but clearly seen in the results we bring you. Though most plumbers can perform a basic install—heck, even some laypersons know their way around a water softener—we provide a range of professional resources that no one else can, including:

  • Same-day water softener replacement: In an emergency, you don’t have to wait!
  • Fully stocked warehouses: Softeners for well water, city water and high capacity softeners are in stock ready to install
  • We truly honor warranties like no other plumbing company in business

The Simplest Breakdown of Water Softener Replacement Costs

It is accurate to think of the installation of a new water softener as a 50-50 split between the tangible parts of a water softener replacement (materials, equipment, parts) and intangibles such as the service, installation and backend work required to complete the water softener installation. 

Who is the Best Water Softener Installation Company in Wisconsin? 

With over 80+ years of installing water softeners in our market and over 1500 5-star reviews, Austin Plumbing, Heating & Air is a fantastic choice if you’re considering a new water softener or any other water conditioning system. For a comprehensive water system analysis and upfront bottom line price quote, call 262-367-3808 today.

About The Author: Eric Smith
Eric Smith is a 3rd generation State of Wisconsin Master Plumber, Water Well Pump Installer, Plumbing Contractor, Water Well Contractor, HVAC Contractor and Water Treatment Expert and the owner of Austin Plumbing, Heating & Air.