Since we just bought a new dishwasher and plan on buying more kitchen appliances in the future, we wanted to protect our investment and get a water softener. I also wanted to get rid of the spots on my dishes, and installing one would raise the value of the house. Win!
So we went to Home Depot and looked at the water softeners. We just wanted the most basic one that would work for our house. We found the model we wanted for about $400, and then there was a little sign that said "We'll install it for $150!". So we asked for more details, and they said that they worked with another company, Superior, and that they would install something similar to the model we wanted at Home Depot for a comparable price. So, we decided to get a quote from them. While we were waiting, we called a few other plumbers and got quotes, one at $850 and one at $1300 (both higher than the $550 total from Home Depot). So we had Superior come into our house and test how hard the water was and give us a quote.
THEY TRICKED US.
The guy was basically a salesman, not a plumber, like Home Depot had implied. He tried to sell us a water softener, yes, but he also tried to sell us a water purification system and a new, tankless water heater ($5000) that we didn't want, need, or even have the money for. We tried to tell him this and get him to just give us a quote for what we wanted originally, and eventually, after showing the dude who was boss, he quoted us for $1900. No joke. Home Depot lied.
So we thanked him for his time and decided to do it ourselves.
The softener barely fit into our tiny little Focus:
Here's the brand new box:
This is the before picture:
This is the loop where we were going to hook in the softener. The house was already plumbed for it, fortunately, so we didn't have to do that. The soft water will go to the bathroom and the hot water in the kitchen (a.k.a. the dishwasher), but not the outside water taps or the cold water to the kitchen (which is where the fridge's water line is hooked in, so I won't drink softened water out of the fridge filter).
Scott had to extend the copper pipes and then tie them in to the softener:
We used PEX, which is a little bit flexible, which makes it way easier to work with. The problem was, we needed to hook up 3/4" PEX to the 1" nylon fittings coming out of the softener itself, and nobody in Home Depot could find anything in copper that would do that, but there was a galvanized fitting. Scott didn't want to use the galvanized fitting, but there wasn't anything else, so he figured he would use some Teflon tape and make it work.
No luck. We couldn't get it to stop leaking. At this point it was 9:00 on a Friday night, so Lowe's, or anywhere else that might have the right fitting, was closed. So we had to rig something up so we would be able to use the water that night until we could figure something out.
So the next morning Scott went to Lowe's and they didn't have what we needed, but he was able to find a plumbing store and they knew exactly what we needed. They also explained that the reason the galvanized fitting wasn't working was that the nylon threads were straight in and very precise, and the galvanized threads were cut less precisely, at a slight angle. Of course it leaked! So we got everything installed and the plumbing is all nice and neat:
And here is the after photo: