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Moved into a 1950s home with galvanized pipes and 20+gpg hard water. Doing renovations and hard water is beating up everything new, so I want to install a water softener resin+brine tank like the Aquasure Harmony 48k grain. I had a Culligan representative come out and determine that the best location is outside at the city water inlet. My water heater is indoors with no room for an adjacent water softener. Culligan quoted $3500 for the unit and install... so I'm hoping to do it myself.

I would built a shed/overhang extending from the fence to protect the unit, plumbing, electricals. The workable pipe space between the city inlet and the wall is short, about 6", making it a bit tough. The inlet also diverts in the opposite direction for a hose valve and sprinkler system. Questions I have:

  • Would CPVC be sufficient? Or would copper be recommended? Or FLEX stainless steel tubing with an extension flex tubing to create ~40" length?

  • I understand I would need dielectric unions between galvanized and copper, or other couplers for between galvanized and cpvc. Any recommendations here would be great.

  • If choosing copper, I would likely opt for sharkbite connectors as opposed to soldering, though I could learn the latter if need be. Would sharkbite connectors be a no-no for this line?

  • Where do I plumb in shut-off valves?

  • Do I need to (how do I) plumb in a loop? What is the issue with not having a loop?

  • No outlet nearby. I plan to run an extension cord through the crawlspace and out the vent. Any issues with this?

Basically I'm hoping to get a diagram! I'm a DIYer with no plumbing experience, but have read up on plumbing options and feel comfortable doing the install -- so long as I have a good idea of how to run the lines.

Photos: https://imgur.com/a/11wwhN9

Thanks!!

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  • Unless your climate is so warm that there is absolutely no danger of freezing, outside installation in an unheated shed seems doomed to failure. Oct 13 '21 at 23:49
  • Sacramento, CA. Gets down to freezing maybe 10 days a year. Unsure why Culligan, a major brand centered in Sacramento, would recommend outdoor setup if it were an issue... What would be to risk of "failure"? The water line itself never seems to suffer from the freezing temps.
    – Travis
    Oct 13 '21 at 23:59
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    After they install the softener , the freezing is your problem. Last winters' record cold winter in TX , pipes froze and broke that had been good for 10 + years. Oct 14 '21 at 17:55
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Galvanized pipe from 1950! Really! So you think a water softener will stop rust sourcing from the plumbing inside the home? That's interesting. I will answer your questions, but you should consider replumming your home to get rid of all galvanized pipe which will leak and break as soon as there is no more rust to deposit into your water.

CPVC... Do NOT use CPVC which is sensitive to temperature changes. Cheap is cheap, but maintenance soon outweighs the benefits. PEX is far better and can actually freeze without damage (but the connectors can be damaged). So use PEX because it is easy, cheap, and weather resistant.

Dieletric... Forget the dielectric stuff. Use PEX and you don't have to worry about dissimilar metals.

Sharkbite... Those o-ring connectors have not proved themselves to be faulty yet, but I believe that they will fail in the long run. It's an o-ring. Use PEX. There is a new type out now which is called type A. Type B which needs the metal rings is more common, but I believe expansion connections would be better.

Shut offs... Put shut off valves where you want to be able to shut off water. I do not believe in installing them everywhere because it seems that when they are needed to be used that they do not work anymore. Therefore, as a plumber, I usually go straight for the main because it is most likely to actually work. Therefore, install two main shut off so that you have a backup. I also like one before and after the hot water heater which needs replaced frequently. Use 1/4 turn valves only. The others have a short life.

Extension cord... It is a code violation to permanently install an extension cord. Extension cords need to be flexed, do not like temperature changes or sunlight, and will become brittle and crack while laying across your crawl space floor. As an electrician, I have encountered the problem many times. Run Romex properly and install a real outlet. Attach the non-metalic wire to to crawl space floor joists. Laying it across the floor will cause it to become filled with water (it just happens).

Diagram... No. I'm not giving you a diagram. The water softener instructions will contain an installation diagram. If you want a detailed diagram of your entire job, then you need to send me a detailed diagram of your entire house. I'll draw on it and send it back.

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  • Thanks Paul. I appreciate the helpful information, though could have gone without the added insulting/sarcastic comments. I'm a DIYer supporting a single income family with a newborn and a fixer-upper house in California. I don't know what I don't know, hence I ask questions and am doing the best I can since I can't afford a professional, and certainly can't afford to replumb the entire home. Thank you again for taking the time to give me some good info
    – Travis
    Oct 14 '21 at 15:49
  • I speak straight. If you understood insult, then you misunderstood. Everyone, poor, middle, and wealthy, likes cheap. I believe that you are upset because I clearly exposed the plain truth about your plumbing system as a whole (which you already knew) that you don't want to hear (because you would rather deny the more expensive thing). If you put your emotions aside, then you can choose to apprechiate me as the person that told you that a water softener is a waste of money because you need new pipes.
    – Paul
    Oct 14 '21 at 16:05
  • I did not know that galvanized pipe would be render a water softening system completely useless. My relatives nearby have newer pipes and hard water from the same city source, so presumably some hardness is attributed to the source itself. And salesmen from different companies convinced me that a water softener helps to recondition the pipes by clearing out build up. It may be a bandage "solution", but I thought it would be beneficial nonetheless because I can't afford the alternative. Re-read your first few sentences and tell me that wasn't intentional sarcasm to pick at my clear ignorance.
    – Travis
    Oct 14 '21 at 16:34
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    Salesman merely sell. I care about you far more. The last thing you want is to 'clear out some buildup' because that build-up is your pipes. The city delivers hard water. Adding a water softener will reduce hardness. You can pay for the luxury to use less soap and clean fewer water stains... But, if you want water, then you should consider your pipes. Click this link howtolookatahouse.com/Blog/Entries/2018/7/…. If you spend on luxury, then don't tell me about need. You need water. Save for pipes. I could be wrong.
    – Paul
    Oct 14 '21 at 16:46
  • I was hoping the water softener would be a solution rather than a luxury partial fix. Thank you for providing that link.. I will look into replumbing which is beyond my comfort zone as a DIYer. Previous plumbers threw out informal quotes upwards of $10,000 for my small 1200 ft² home, which seems very high but I don't have a basis of comparison. Currently one bathroom is gutted (for the past 6 months... Trying to drum up money for repairs), exposing pipes to both bathrooms, so now it would be a good time to address the plumbing.
    – Travis
    Oct 14 '21 at 17:35

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