Latest Discussions : Plumbing

Harold & Joe

09:05AM | 05/26/02
Member Since: 05/25/02
1 lifetime posts
I'm in the process of buying a new home and have been offered the option of buying a soft water loop. I've had a soft water system for 12 yrs from Ecowater and Culligan, but have never heard of this loop. The description is it keeps soft water from going to your outside hose bibs-- which makes entire sense--but it also keeps soft water from "the cold side in your kitchen." How can this be so specific? Wouldn't it also be so in bathroom, shower, etc.? And why would you want hard water on the cold side? I also have RO for drinking, so no reason to get a "cold glass of tap water." Can anyone help make this clearer?

Thank you.


02:08AM | 05/28/02
Member Since: 10/19/98
223 lifetime posts
1. Don't use softened water on outside bibs - why waste softened water?

2. Many people have the mistaken belief that softened water has a high salt content and/or that softened water has a disagreeable taste.

3. Why softened water on the cold side? Have you ever seen a toilet with hard water stains? If you have really hard water you want the cold side softened to get all the benefits of softened water.

4. I've never heard of a soft water loop, but it sounds like nothing more than extra plumbing. Its easy to keep the softened water out of the cold side.


01:27AM | 11/25/07
Member Since: 11/24/07
7 lifetime posts
I am unclear as to exactly how a plumbing loop might be needed for a water softener? Perhaps if you could explain what occurs with or without one, I might better understand. Including a plumbing flowchart for both scenarios would aid me to better understand the big picture. Hurry back. Thanks T


11:25AM | 11/27/07
Member Since: 04/01/05
32 lifetime posts
What is meant by a 'softwater loop' is where the water softener is installed.

The primary reason for this type of plumbing is found on slab foundations where a softener as an 'after-thought' is very difficult mostly due to the plumbing arrangement where some water will be treated, say in a kitchen and laundry, but remote baths and showers may not fall into that loop.

Are you on a slab foundation?

In other houses with basements or crawl spaces, it a loop is included just to make a softener hook-up easier.

Loops are often found in garages or outside in warmer climates. Where is yours located?

Andy Christensen, CWS-II

Often the outside bibs are by-passed and not treated.


10:16PM | 11/28/07
Member Since: 11/24/07
7 lifetime posts
Thanks for the reply A.C.

here's the lowdown: Yes my brand new home is on a slab. The builder did not install "a preplumb loop" in the house. So, when I went to my nearby home improvment store to purchase a h2o softener system, their first question was if my home had a loop? Since it did not, I was only offered the pricey option to have one installed during the h2o softener install. Did I have a choice?

So my question is this? What exactly is a soft water plumbing loop? Why is it neccessary? Can a soft water system be installed without one?

I was quoted a price to have a plumbing loop installed by the same reputable nationwide home improvement

store. Please describe what plumbing lines are added/ reconfigured when an aftermarket install occurs (slab foundation)?

Thanks y'all tommy


07:23AM | 11/29/07
Member Since: 04/01/05
32 lifetime posts
Simply put, it is a location in the water line--before the water heater--where all water that you want to be treated has to pass through. Do you have a pressure tank (well) or a water meter (city)?

These spots noramlly offer the best location.



04:46AM | 12/02/07
Member Since: 11/24/07
7 lifetime posts
Thanks 4 your aid, Andy. Basically this is the scenario. 1980's era ranch style block home on slab. City water (75 psi)with a water hardness rating of 28gpg. Being that their is no 'plumbing loop' pre installed, I am unclear as to how a 'loop' can be added later on and what it actual purpose is. I believe a H2o softener can be installed without a loop present. So paint me your best picture of the water flow chart with vs. without the loop. Thanks Buddy Tom


02:30AM | 12/08/07
Member Since: 11/24/07
7 lifetime posts
As helpful as Andy~qwerty999 has tried to be in explaining what a soft water loop is, it's apparent that he does not know the answer.

So, for the last time, if anyone can honestly explain to me in basic english

Q#1)how a softwater loop is configured?

Q#2)Why it might be needed & how it should look after a non-preplumbed installation!??

Please and Thank You Tom

ps>Where the heck is Bob Vila and his help?


05:45AM | 12/08/07
Member Since: 04/01/05
32 lifetime posts

"As helpful as Andy~qwerty999 has tried to be in explaining what a soft water loop is, it's apparent that he does not know the answer."

Well, that was pretty decent of you. I mean I gave you the Reader's Digest" versaion but let me try to make it even simplier.

This was my response:

"Simply put, it is a location in the water line--before the water heater--where all water that you want to be treated has to pass through."


Your water softener should intersect the plumbing--those are the pipe things--between where your water comes into the house--that building you live in-- and all other faucets, baths, showers, dishwashers, laundry units and water heaters (I could go on but I think you are following me, right?)

Of course the actual location is impossible for me to tell you as you are not providing builder blueprints.

If you are in warm weather climate, you may have to dig a hole in your yard to meet the pipe before it comes into the house.

I cold climates a leanto may be added to your construction to house and keep the equipment warm. Occasionally the plumbing in your house may be such as to allow an indoor installation, which would typically be near the water heater.

The plumbing would look like a striaght pipe with two tees and two elbow forming a D shape in the plumbing with valves between each tee and elbow and between each tee as well. The middle valve would be your by-pass and usually stays shut when the softener is on and open when no equipment is installed.


You need one so that all your plumbing can be treated. As I said before, many slab foundation constuction plans didn't take into consideration loops for water treatment so you may have to do some major repiping.

Boy, I am not sure I can make it any planer than that. Hope that helped.

Andy Christensen, CWS-II


10:33AM | 12/08/07
Member Since: 11/24/07
7 lifetime posts
Yo Mr. qwerty999. As much as I enjoy a witty back and forth mud-slinging dialog, I'll take off the gloves after I get my answers. As much as I've enjoyed your responses, perhaps I could get you to re-read the thread from the begining before your next response. All obvious factors aside, if you can explain the actual water flow path with vs. without a loop, I promise to read it. So before you click on that [reply to post] link, please go back and read our entire thread from the start. See your reply soon buddy! Tom


08:44PM | 12/08/07
Member Since: 04/25/07
25 lifetime posts

As amusing as it is to see you disrespect someone for trying to help you maybe I can...

A water softener loop is pipe that is exposed in a service area such as a utility or mechanical room or garage where the main water service entering the house is accessible to interrupt and install an appliance that would treat or service the entire plumbing system in the house.

For example, it is really as simple as the main water service pipe entering the outer garage wall from the water meter outside, going up the inside of the wall, exiting the wall at a 90 degree angle into the garage, going 6" or 12" and then going back into the wall at a 90 degree angle and servicing the plumbing in the house. The 6" to 12" of pipe exposed in the garage is the water softener loop.

To install a softener or a whole house filter a competent plumber would cut that exposed loop and plumb a service and return to the appliance. The appliance would be treating the entire water supply to the entire house where the water service enters the house.

If a home is plumbed with a softener loop there is usually a drain nearby and an AC outlet. If that is there then installing a softener is relatively easy. Softener loops can come out of the wall or in slab construction I've seen them come up from the floor... plumbers can be so creative.

If the house has no softener loop then there's a lot more work to do. You need to interrupt the water service and add the loop, or plumb the softener, before the water service branches out in the house in all the different directions it always does. You'll also need a drain for when the softener regenerates and an AC outlet, although Kinetico softeners do not require electricity.

To add a softener loop or plumb a softener in a ranch style home on a slab one would locate where the water service enters the house and then dig it out, interrupt it, plumb it to an easy entry like a garage, plumb the softener in the garage, add a drain, and return the line to where the service was interrupted.

Lots of work and can cost you but the right way to do it.

In some climates a softener can be installed outside and I've seen a few nifty Kinetico installs with the softener neatly buried in the ground since they don't require electricity.


01:12AM | 12/09/07
Member Since: 11/24/07
7 lifetime posts
Thanks for your reply j*lurker. Your description was what I had been seeking. So as I now understand better what a softener loop is, please correct me if I'm wrong.

1)If a newer home has been preplumbed w/a loop as normally seen coming out ,across 12" then back into the wall next to a water heater. Would that mean that the pipe exiting the wall is from the main water supply?(excluding possible branches to outside spigots?)If plumbed correctly, the pipe returning into the wall would then go to? a)just the hot water heater? b)back into the wall with a T-connection to the water heater and the other path being the cold supply?

If there is a branch after the loop, would that make all water in the house softened? kitchen,bathrooms,showers,icemaker lines etc.?

Space permitting, can a water softener be installed (most likely next to the water heater) in a home that is not pre plumbed with a loop? If so, would that mean that only the hot water side would be softened? What are the pros and cons of that scenario?

So basically, when a plumbing loop is pre installed in a new home, the entire length of pipe needed would be in the 2ft-3ft range and +/-4 elbows?

Assuming a unit is installed w/out a loop, resulting in only hot water softened, wouldn't that be desirable? or not?

What if any are the drawbacks using softened water in the water heater?

If you can answer me these questions, I'll buy you a cold beer!

thanks buddy Tom


05:23AM | 12/09/07
Member Since: 04/25/07
25 lifetime posts
IMO softening only the water heater (or hot side) is a waste of money. While soft water will make the water heater happy along with all the fixtures on the hot side, hard water is still in the system every inch of the cold side and where hot and cold meet at faucets and washer and dishwasher and such the water will be hard and you lose all the benefits of soft water in that plumbing and those fixtures.

Plumbed properly, a softener install, will intersect the main water service where it enters the house. Some people, from the old days will plumb a house so the softener softens everything BUT the kitchen sink and outside hose bibs but that is getting less and less common. Using KCl (potassium chloride) instead of NaCl (sodium chloride) to regenerate the softener softened water no longer kills house plants so it's quicker and cheaper for a plumber to put the softener loop in the main water service during new construction.

Softening only the hot side came along when retro fitting softeners in existing houses so the home owners wouldn't have a heart attack when they saw the price of the install. Competent and professional softener installers will explain the difference in the two methods, quote prices for both, and then the home owner can understand the difference and make an informed choice. Door to door snake oil softener salesman often only mention(ed) softening the hot side so the install is cheaper and they can sell a softener.

With 28gpg hard water you want to do this the right way and not throw good money after bad.

I was in the same situation as you... moved into a ranch style home on a slab and realized I had 26-30g hardness water. I had the softener install done the right way. Brought in a backhoe guy, a really good plumber, and it cost about $800 to do what I described in my previous post.

Added a reverse osmosis (RO) unit under the sink for cooking, drinking, and icemaker water.

In 12 years, haven't replaced a faucet washer and the water heater is going on 11 years when the neighbors replace them every 2 years or so and the icemaker still makes nifty clear ice cubes.

Most plumbers really don't understand water treatment and in all fairness they don't want to. Find a local water treatment professional and have them come out and quote you a price with a proper install. Then you'll have a base line to compare other solutions to.

Lastly, for the most reliable and long term service avoid Sears, Lowes, Home Depot, and the like when shopping for water softeners. Find a local water treatment professional who sell industry standard softeners and who will service what they sell.


05:32AM | 12/09/07
Member Since: 04/25/07
25 lifetime posts
Yes, basically, when a plumbing loop is pre-installed in a new home, the entire length of pipe needed would be in the 2ft-3ft range and +/-4 elbows.

"What if any are the drawbacks using softened water in the water heater?"

No drawback to softened water in the water heater. In fact, softened water will remove hard water deposits in the water heater, pipes, and fixtures over time, but there may be a considerate amount of sediment and hard water deposits built up in the water heater already with 28gpg hard water and that might never go away.

It's best to start a new appliance out on soft water.

"If you can answer me these questions, I'll buy you a cold beer!"

I'd prefer you apologize to those who tried to help you and not blame them for your inability to understand really basic plumbing.

Good luck and let us know how you decide to proceed.


08:12AM | 12/21/07
Member Since: 11/24/07
7 lifetime posts
Simply put, justalurker your explanations as you wrote in the last few threads was all I was asking for. Thank you for taking the time to explain in detail the 'big picture' for a soft h20 loop.

This is your reply: "I'd prefer you apologize to those who tried to help you and not blame them for your inability to understand really basic plumbing".

I'm assuming that your refering to my comment to querty999 after he failed to answer any one of my questions correctly. I've already used the word apology in a reply to him. That's all he's gonna get from me. I'm sure that he meant well in any one of his worthless replies. If you re-read the posted thread from the start, each one of his replies was nothing but fluff. You answered my query in 2 posts, whereas querty999 never once came close to giving a direct answer. Thanks again pal.


09:44PM | 03/19/13
The goal is to get 3 types of water. Soft Hot, Soft Cold, and Hard Cold water. Hard cold is supplied from the source. The Hard Cold will go outside,to your refrigerator for ice and to your cold kitchen sink for drinking water. The rest of the house will go thru the softener. Soft Hot thru the water heater, Soft Cold supplies all other inside cold sources except drinking water.
Hope that helps.


01:47PM | 06/04/13
Hey, troops

Have no idea what a SWL does, or how. However, the current devices I have seen are cream-color-painted cylinders about 8 or 9 inches in both length and diameter that sits on the top of the water tank. Looks like a mini-propane tank with a seam around the middle.

My guess would be it is nothing more than fittings with an expansion chamber for a soft-water system.

Have you asked a soft water company???

Good Luck.


10:25AM | 11/01/13
does a soft water loop also require a connection box like a washer does?


10:26AM | 11/01/13
Does a soft water loop also require a vent pipe?


09:53PM | 07/24/18
Member Since: 07/24/18
3 lifetime posts
Strange how everyone wants to make the question from ptplumber so difficult. I am not a plumber but know what a loop for a Water softener is. To service a whole house with soft water, the cold water coming into the house must be cut and a new line, or pipe introduced at the incoming (metered or well side) this new pipe, Pex or Copper, is then run to the IN side of your water softener. Then, another line or pipe is run from the other side of the water softener -- there is an ON and an OUT -- now, run this second line (pipe) out to where you cut the pipe coming into your house, the end that is still open, and solder or push (Pex) the end of that line (the out side) into that open pipe that feeds all your water works in the house. That is a LOOP, from city (metered) out to WS IN side, then WS out side back to in house pipe. The loop is complete and this will also supply your Water Heater with soft water as well. Yes, any outside hose bibe connected to house water will also be soft. So, at the junction where you cut the Metered water line away from the house, put a TEE in and put a faucet there and you have an outlet with hard water. If you splice into your water line, say in your attic you will not get soft water to all of your outlets, and you will have hard water coming in from the street (metered side) battling with the soft water you are trying to introduce -- stay with the loop, from street side to IN then OUT back to house side -- Yes, you have to cut the street side away from the house for the loop to work and the house to get soft water at all taps. I thought I was going to say all this in ten words or less, ha, ha.


09:59PM | 07/24/18
Member Since: 07/24/18
3 lifetime posts
A LOOP for Softwater -- Cut the water line coming from the street to the house. Run a line from the cut pipe from street (metered side) back to the Water Softener IN side then from the OUT side of the Water Softener run another line back to the pipe you cut going into the house, connect and now you have a water softener loop, that bring the cold water from the main line to the WS turning it into soft water and back to the house giving you soft water at all taps, including your Water Heater. That is a Water Softener LOOP.


06:36AM | 03/04/20
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