More often than not, if you have a well you will also have a water softener to reduce the mineral content and ph of your groundwater. While water softeners can last a very long time running continuously and being flushed properly, you can extend the life of your water softener by installing a bypass valve.
A water softener bypass valve will allow you to run water from your well to a tap, faucet, or spigot without using the water softener to reduce the mineral content.
Using a bypass valve with your water softener will not only lengthen the lifespan of your water softener but will also save you money on the salts that you use to flush out your water softener. There are several reasons why you will want to do this, especially during the spring and summer months.
- What Is a Water Softener Bypass Valve
- Water Softener Bypass Valve Replacements
- Water Softener Bypass Valve Kits
- How to Replace a Softener Bypass Valve
- Don’t Overlook the Importance of Your Water Softeners Bypass Valve
What Is a Water Softener Bypass Valve
Almost all water softeners are installed with a special valve called a bypass valve on the inlet for the water softener. This valve allows you to cut off the flow of water into the softener and just run water directly from your well to your house’s plumbing.
How to Bypass your Water Softener: How Does it Work?
So depending on the type of inlet/outlet plumbing you have installed on your water softener, your bypass valve may look different from one set-up to the next, most often through your bypass valve will be U-shaped.
It will have two inlets, one that directs hard water from the well into the valve, and the second inlet directs water into the water softener for the hard water to be softened. It will also have two outlet valves, one directs the newly softened water back into the valve, and the second outlet will direct the softened water into your house’s plumbing.
The bypass valve works by closing both the inlet and outlet valves to the water softener and opening a valve that lets the hard water from the well run directly into your plumbing. Therefore completely ‘bypassing’ the water softener.
Reasons to Bypass Your Water Softener
It may seem counter-intuitive to bypass a water softener, especially with how much it costs to install one, and because the whole purpose of softening water is to make it safer for your health to drink and use as well as saving your plumbing from mineral build-up.
However, there are plenty of good reasons why you may want to run hard water directly from your well. For instance, if you have a lawn that you take care of, and if you live in the country odds are you have at least an acre of lawn that needs regular watering.
Lawns require a large amount of water to keep healthy, it only makes sense to use hard water. Most plants can handle hard water fairly well, and there are plenty of plants and flowers out there that benefit from the extra minerals and a higher ph. Blueberries, for instance, thrive in soil with a higher ph, producing more volume and much for flavorful berries when the ph is right.
Since your water softener works by collecting the positively charged minerals in hard water and needs to be flushed using a salt slurry to keep it working well, bypassing the water softener to water your lawn or garden will save you money on the salts used to flush out the minerals your softener collects.
It will also save wear and tear on your softener unit.
This is just one example of why to bypass your water softener, you could also use hard water to wash your car or pressure wash your house.
Water Softener Bypass Valve Replacements
Everything wears out from time to time, and water softener bypass valves are no different. Below are a few products that fit a wide variety of models and plumbing sizes.
These are high-quality parts from well-known manufacturers that are guaranteed to suit your needs and the fittings of your water softener.
Water Softener Bypass Valve Kits
1. AFW Filters B004NFGQ II ¾” Stainless Steel Bypass Valve
This is a bypass valve that is a genuine Fleck manufactured part. Simple in design and easy to install, this bypass valve will be around long after you are. The simple design allows you to bypass your water softener by just turning two valves, the one you see on the bypass valve and then the one you should already have installed in the plumbing.
If you have a Fleck water softener installed, the installation of this piece of hardware is amazingly simply because it is a direct replacement part. It will take you almost no time at all and is simple plug-and-play.
The stainless steel construction of this bypass valve is highly resistant to hard water, especially because the water is flowing on and off throughout the day. It is also very easy to clean if you needed to.
If you do happen to need to clean this filter, soaking the bypass valve in white vinegar for a few hours and scrubbing it with a wire brush will remove the mineral deposits and get it right back to out-of-the-box condition.
As a genuine Fleck part, and with hundreds of positive reviews, you can rest assured you are getting a quality piece of equipment for your water softener.
2. Kenmore 7129871 Water Softener Bypass Valve
This bypass valve is designed specifically for and by Kenmore for their line of water softeners, so it is an OEM replacement part. While it may not look the exact same of the bypass valve that came with your Kenmore water softener, it is designed to the same specifications so it is an exact fit for several Kenmore models.
Before you purchase, the link above directs you to the Amazon page with a list of Kenmore water softeners that this bypass valve is a proven fit for.
An added benefit of this bypass valve is that not only does it fit the Kenmore brand, but it also fits models from Whirlpool and Waterworks water softeners as well.
This bypass valve is made from PVC and very resistant to mineral buildup from hard water. The design of the bypass valve allows for a very quick 5-minute installation, all you may need is a little thread seal tape for the water softener inlet and outlet connections.
The main inlet and outlet valves are simple clip-on connections with o-rings to complete the seal, so if you are replacing a bypass valve that came with the original installation, no further equipment will be needed.
3. Water Softener 1” Replacement Bypass Valves Assembly Kit
Say you have an older water softener that you may have inherited when purchasing or renting your house and that the original manufacturer does not supply replacement parts for the bypass valve, or simply isn’t in business anymore.
Well, if your valve size is 1” this is a quality aftermarket bypass valve that will suit your needs.
Often, trying to find an aftermarket part for anything can be a hit or miss. However, the manufacturer of this bypass valve supplies all the necessary information for you. If you check out the link you’ll see that they have gone to great lengths to describe exactly what type of fitting situation the valve will be suitable for, down to the mounting set-up.
EcoDyne is a quality part manufacturer, and if you check out the reviews, you’ll see that this product has rave reviews. Meaning the bypass valve is a perfect fit for many water softeners and has zero leaks in almost all of its installations.
Unlike many manufacturers, Ecodyne is readily available to answer any phone calls and questions you may have about this valve and its installation.
4. Water Softener Standard Bypass Valve Assembly
This bypass valve is another aftermarket part made for those that aren’t able to find the exact OEM equivalent for their water softener. This bypass valve is designed to fit many different brands such as Whirlpool, Kenmore, Ecopure, GE, Northstar, and Morton.
Made of PVC this valve is sized to fit ¾” plumbing, which is a standard size for many water softeners. However, the manufacturer took into account that not all water softeners come in ¾” plumbing and included ¾’ to 1” adapters just in case you aren’t sure what size you need for your water softener.
This kit also comes with the clips you’ll need for your plumbing in case the old ones have aged badly and are either worn out, broken, or too brittle to get a good grip on your existing plumbing.
This, like the product directly above, is another Ecodyne product, so if you have questions, or need to return this product, you can be sure of quality customer service.
How to Replace a Softener Bypass Valve
Replacing a bypass valve is a pretty simple process since all the plumbing is already in place, but there is a step-by-step process to the replacement.
- You will want to close the main water shut-off valve. This is the water valve on the mainline from your well to the house before it gets to the water softener.
- Turn off the electricity to the water softener, this is very important since water and electricity can be a dangerous mix.
- Locate your bypass valve, shut off the valves.
- Disconnect the bypass valve by unclipping and screwing the connections.
- Let the water softener drain, and give the plumbing time to dry out.
- Using sealing tape on and threads, go ahead and attach the bypass valve to the water softener and existing plumbing. Make you check any clips have a good seal.
- Open the main water shut-off valve and check for leaks.
- If all is well, turn the electricity to the water softener back on again.
- If the are no leaks, you are good to go.
All in all, with the proper replacement part this job should take less than 15 minutes.
Don’t Overlook the Importance of Your Water Softeners Bypass Valve
Bypass valves are a simple installation and can have a big impact on the life of your water softener and your wallet. If you are having issues with water flow, this is also one of the first places to check for mineral build-up.
A simple and easy fix, water softener bypass valves play a large role in the health of your plumbing system.