Placement Of Water Conditioning Equipment

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After the basic plumbing requirements are taken into account, next consider the location of the equipment. Ideally, water conditioning equipment should be placed so that it is readily accessible and yet out of the way. The best location is adjacent to the water meter or beside the pressure tank. Space requirements may be such that it will be necessary to place a softener in one area and the brine tank (in the case of automatic equipment) somewhere else. With the smart looking enclosures available today, softeners can readily be installed in the kitchen or utility room. Under such conditions, it may well be advisable to place the brine tank elsewhere. However, the manufacturer's limitations on the length of the brine line should be checked. Too long a line may prevent proper regeneration. In this case, a salt-in-head softener should be considered.

Essentially, a good rule of thumb to follow is this: place equipment so as to supply soft water to all desired points of use in the simplest, neatest, least expensive, and most effective way. In making a placement the location of the water heater, main supply line, sillcocks, drain, and electrical outlets must be taken into account.


Once you have full agreement with the prospect on all requirements for installing the equipment, you are ready to outline the job to the installation man. After all necessary bypass lines are installed, place the softener in position. Be sure that it is level. Then, take measurements for the connecting pipes that will run from the mainline to the softener inlet and outlet. Shut-off valves should be installed on both the inlet and outlet lines. Also, a bypass valve should be positioned on the mainline in between the inlet and outlet connections. This permits the cutting out of the softener at any time should servicing of the unit become necessary.

An important aspect of the installation is the setting up of proper drainage facilities. WQA In­dustry Standards 5-100-85 states:

"Regeneration wastes from permanently installed softeners shall be discharged to the building waste system, subject to the following precautions:

  • The softener drain line shall not be connected directly to the waste system, but shall be emptied into a laundry tray, floor drain, or properly trapped special outlet, preserving an air gap of at least two times the diameter of the drain line, but in no case less than 1-1/2 inches above the top of the receptacle used.
  • Installations requiring rinsing of brine through water supply lines shall not be acceptable."

The purpose of the air brake is to avoid the possibility of having sewage water drawn from the drain onto the water mains. Unless a sufficient air brake is maintained, the following is possible. Suppose during the recharging of a softener a fire breaks out in the neighborhood. Under these circumstances, the fire fighting equipment could create such a strong suction that water would flow backward. Now if this suction were strong enough, some fluid from the sewer pipes might be drawn back through the drain line into the softener, through the house, and then out to the water lines. The danger, of course, is that the water may be polluted with the possibility of spreading a disease-producing condition throughout an area. Obviously, public health standards make it essential to observe the air-gap rule in providing for drainage.

A floor drain, if away from the flow of traffic, is ideal for the discharge of the backwash and regenerating effluents. With such an installation, a rigid pipe should extend from the softener but stop a minimum of 1-1/2 inches from the drain. A drain or laundry sink will also serve for the discharge of the backwash and regenerating effluents. The homeowner must be cautioned against having the sink stopper in at any time when the softener is in the process of being regenerated day or night. For if this occurs, there is the distinct possibility of overflowing the tub. The use of a long section of the garden hose rather than rigid piping for the drainpipe is not recommended. Do not restrict the drain line, or use a long garden hose, as such restriction may prevent proper backwash and regeneration. The larger the softener or filter, the more important this becomes.

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