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Can I have a Water Softener Installed Outside?


If you’ve decided to have a water softener installed in your home, you have a few other decisions to make. One of the biggest of these decisions is where your softener should be installed. It might not be the first thing that comes to mind, but water softeners take up a bit of space if you’re considering a traditional two-tank configuration. You’ll need to account for both the media tank and the brine tank where you’ll periodically add salt.

The perfect location for a softener is somewhere flat, level, accessible, and near the point of entry of the house’s water supply. Ideally, this would be a heated, insulated basement, a peripheral storage room, or a convenient crawlspace. But, there are many instances where that ideal location just doesn’t exist.

In some parts of the country, especially warmer states where basements in homes are not commonplace or even possible, finding that perfect location for a softener installation is a little more challenging. This presents the question: “Is it okay to have my water softener installed outside?”

The answer is yes. But understanding the strict requirements that come along with an outdoor installation is important.

Temperature and Water Softeners

Your water softener is made up of two different tanks. The media tank is the slimmer and taller of the two tanks and has a valve and controller installed on its top. This tank contains the resin beads that remove the hardness minerals when untreated water passes through them, and it is made of fiberglass.

The brine tank is the shorter and fatter of the two tanks. This is where you’ll need to occasionally add salt to make sure your water softener keeps operating properly. When the media tank regenerates, the brine tank fills up part-way with water, dissolving a certain amount of salt. The saltwater, or brine solution, is then pumped into the media tank, “recharging” the resin beads inside while rinsing out all of the hardness minerals that the beads had previously captured.

When asking the question of “can a water softener be installed outside,” the biggest thing to consider is temperature. Because neither the media or brine tanks are insulated, they are very susceptible to freezing or extremely hot temperatures. Softeners are rated to operate between 35 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

A frozen media tank could lead to the fiberglass shell cracking or internal damage to the distribution tube, a thick plastic tube that runs through the center of the media tank that supplies the tank with water. This could result in the resin beads inside the tank escaping into your home’s plumbing, potentially causing damage through the rest of your home.

What You Need to Know About Outside Water Softener Installation

With temperature and climate being the biggest consideration, if you live in a part of the country that does not see freezing temperatures and you do not have an accessible basement (or a basement at all), an outdoor installation may not only be possible, but preferable.

Water softener units can be installed outdoors, but here's what we recommend to ensure proper installation and functioning:

  • The water softener should be located by the home’s water entry point. This is typically near a water meter or, if you’re on well water, by a pressure tank.
  • There needs to be a power supply nearby. The valve’s controller needs power to operate all of its cycles. The closer to a power source the better.
  • There must be a place to safely drain water that flushes out the hardness minerals during regeneration nearby.
  • It should be installed in an accessible place. Keep in mind, you’ll need to regularly add softener salt to the brine tank.
  • You’ll need enough room. This seems like a no-brainer, but there should be plenty of space around the installation site for plumbing to be run.

In addition to those basic requirements, there are some other considerations that outdoor installations may require. For example, direct sunlight should always be avoided. Consistent, direct sunlight can cause damage to the tank and controller over time. This applies to the elements, in general. Many professional installers opt to install outdoor units beneath a lean-to or in a small storage shed.

Additionally, many softeners come available with weather covers that are typically plastic pieces that fit over the controller head which helps protect and prolong the life of the controller. WaterCare's CareSoft Series® softener units are available with these weather covers which are rated to reduce the chance of dust and water entering the area where the delicate circuit board is housed. The cover will also help shield the damage the sun would have on the plastic. In some installation scenarios, professional installers will partially bury the media tank which reduces the amount of exposure to the elements the tank will have while also providing a more regulated temperature.

Not Sure Where to Put Your Water Softener?

If you’re considering a water softener but are concerned about an installation site at your home, call a WaterCare expert. A WaterCare dealer is trained in a variety of softener installation procedures and can help you find what you need beginning with testing your home’s water to finding that perfect installation site. Fill out our contact form to request an appointment with the local authorized WaterCare dealer nearest you!