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Water Softener Questions: Can I Install My Softener Outside?

Fenced in Backyard

When shopping for any appliance for your home, besides accounting for the features and look that you want, one of the most critical considerations is space and fit. What good is an extra-wide smart fridge if you don’t have enough room in your kitchen to open the doors?

Some significant appliances have additional requirements that you need to consider before purchasing. A clothing dryer often requires a special 4-prong outlet to account for the heating elements inside. A refrigerator with a water dispenser and an ice machine will obviously require a dedicated water hookup and a gas oven/stove will need a natural gas line run to the back of it.

In terms of location requirements, like the appliances above, a water softener has its own set of factors regarding where it can and should be installed. A water softener needs to be on a flat and level surface, easily accessible for when it’s time to refill salt, and close to the entry point for your home’s water supply. In a perfect world, this would be in a heated basement, garage, or storage room.

But, as is the case with many residents in parts of the country where basements are not available, sometimes finding that ideal location for your water softener that ticks all the boxes isn’t quite possible. One potential solution for those who live in warm climates with limited space is considering installing a softener outside the home.  While this seems like a good option for the space problem, there are some strict requirements for outdoor installations that are important to be aware of.

Temperature: The Big Factor

Temperature is the most crucial consideration when looking into an outdoor installation. Water softeners are rated to operate between 35 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit, which immediately rules out parts of the country that experience freezing temperatures in the winter.

These temperature requirements are due to the nature of the components that make up a water softener. A softener consists of two separate tanks; the media tank (the tall, slim tank that contains the resin media), and the brine tank (the shorter, wider tank that has softener salt). The lack of insulation for either of these tanks makes them susceptible to damage from extreme temperatures, whether hot or cold.

For example, a frozen media tank might result in the fiberglass exterior cracking, causing depressurization of the tank and leaks. Additionally, freezing temperatures could lead to the distributor tube, the main conduit of water in the media tank during regeneration, cracking, allowing the resin media to escape the tank into your home’s plumbing, damaging your home’s fixtures and appliances.

The Outdoors Installation Checklist

If you and your installer have determined that your home is okay for an outdoor installation, you also need to consider a handful of things.

  1. Space: If you’re considering an outdoor installation, you are likely doing so because of a lack of space in your home. However, you’ll also need a dedicated space outdoors to account for plumbing to be run that is accessible and easy to maintain.

  2. Close to the Source: ­The water softener must be located near the entry point of your home’s water source. In most cases, this is near a water meter if supplied with city water or near a pressure tank using well water. Since your softener will supply softened water to all the fixtures in your home, it must be installed at the entry point.

  3. Power: A water softener requires a power source nearby to power the electronics on the valve that operates its regeneration cycles.

  4. Accessibility: Since you’ll regularly add salt to the brine tank, the softener should be located somewhere easy and convenient.

  5. Adequate Drain: During regeneration, captured minerals are flushed from the tank. Water used in regeneration is safely flushed to a nearby drain.

  6. Avoid Sunlight: Direct sunlight on a water softener can damage the tank and the cover that protects the valve’s electronics over time. In some cases, installing an outside unit in a small storage shed or even a lean-to near the home may be recommended to shield it from UV rays.

Professional installers in areas that allow for outdoor installation, such as those in the Evolve network of dealers, have several tricks to reduce the amount of exposure to elements and regulate the temperature of outdoor tanks. This includes partially burying tanks in the ground to establish consistent temps or employing an Evolve Weather Cover, a plastic piece that fits over the top of the valve head, reducing the amount of exposure to water and dust.

Looking to Install?

Knowing the ins and outs behind what goes into an outdoor water softener installation is essential. And even more critical is trusting a professional to do everything up to code.

An authorized Evolve dealer has the expertise to assist you in the correct type of installation for your home, regardless of your space situation. Find your local authorized Evolve dealer and discuss your options today!

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