Does a Water Softener Need a Backflow Preventer?

Does a Water Softener Need a Backflow Preventer?

A water softener system helps to remove hard minerals from your water supply, improving its quality and prolonging the lifespan of appliances that use water. Are you curious about the local building code requirements that apply to your water softener? If so, you may be wondering if a backflow preventer is required.

When using a water softener on your main water supply, you will often need to use a backflow preventer to comply with local regulations. By taking this precautionary measure, you ensure that water can’t flow back into the main water supply and contaminate it.

If you are wondering what such a prevention method can achieve, you are reading the right article. We will explore what a backflow preventer is, why you need one, and why using a water softener is essential in the first place! Keep reading this article to learn more!

Related articles:
Ultimate Guide to Water Softeners: Everything You Need to Know
10 Tips for Maintaining Your Water Softener

Why Do You Need a Backflow Preventer with a Water Softener?

If you plan to use a water softener at home, you may have heard that getting a non-return valve fitted into the water pipes is required according to your local regulation. If you’re like me, you may be wondering why having a backflow preventer is a requirement.

The main reason is that not using a backflow preventer with a water softener can allow bacteria-contaminated water to flow back into your tap water. This condition can cause significant health risks for you and your family.

Let’s assume that you install a water softener without a backflow valve. If the water pressure in your neighborhood were to drop below the pressure in your house, contaminated water could potentially enter the supply on your street. As a result, water can flow from any of the houses onto the main water supply.

If any of the houses were connected to a well or other water source with bacteria in it, that contaminated water could flow back into the main water supply. This can be disastrous from a public health point of view.

This is because that water can enter the main supply and continue contaminating the access to clean water for every house on that street.

Consequently, you must have a non-return valve on your supply line when installing a water softener so that no contaminated water flows back into the main supply.

While this risk is often minimal, the cost of being careful is far less than the consequences of ignoring this concern. This is why, when you use a softener at home, you always need to have a backflow prevention mechanism available to avoid the water going to the main supply.

Why Is Using a Water Softener Important?

A water softener is a household appliance that can remove dissolved minerals from your home’s water supply, making it easier on your plumbing and skin. Hard water can be harmful to your skin and hair as well as your plumbing fixtures and appliances.

Using a water softener removes the minerals that cause these problems, leaving you with soft water that is gentle on your skin and won’t damage your plumbing.

In addition, soft water can prolong the lifespan of your appliances and save you money on your utility bills. Appliances that use water, such as washing machines and dishwashers, will run more efficiently with soft water. This is because hard water requires more soap and energy to get the same results as soft water.

However, it is crucial to get the right balance when treating hard water. While it’s not possible to over-soften your water, you can regenerate your resin too frequently, wasting both salt and water unnecessarily.

Read my article What Should My Water Softener Hardness Be Set At?

Always ensure your water is tested by a professional and regularly maintain testing to keep water safe.

How to Test Your Water for Hardness

There are many ways to test your water for hardness, but the first and most important thing you need to be able to do is to identify the signs that there is a hardness issue in the first place. Here are some things to look out for:

  • Spots on your dishes or glasses.
  • Unable to lather while washing dishes.
  • A white crust around your bathroom fittings.

Here’s a video showing some of the common signs of water hardness:


If you have noticed any of these things, it is time to test the water for hardness. Here are some of the ways you can do that:

1. Wait for your drinking water quality report

Depending on where you live, you should receive a report on the drinking water available in your city every year. This is typically provided by your local government in collaboration with the water supplier in the city.

This report gives you a breakdown of the water contents in the drinking water available at your location. You can also contact the water supplier, who can provide information about the hardness of the water in your area.

2. Test the water at home

You can test for hard water at home in many different ways, including testing kits from various companies. There is also a quick way to do it all by yourself.

Read my article on testing your water’s hardness.

You need an empty bottle with a cap, some soap, and the water you need to test. Add one-third water and a few drops of soap, and then shake. If the resultant liquid is not bubbly and looks cloudy or milky, the water may be hard.

3. Contact a professional

While at-home tests can give you some idea of the hardness of water, the best approach is to reach out to a professional and ask them to test the water for you.

They can give you accurate testing materials and specific results that tell you the degree of hardness and what needs to be done to take care of the issue.

Final Thoughts

Water hardness is a serious issue, and it is important to be proactive in solving the problem. If you have hard water, make sure to take the necessary steps to mitigate the effects and keep your home safe.

Local plumbing codes require the use of a backflow preventer. This is a device that helps to keep water from flowing backwards into the potable water supply. Check with your local building department for the exact requirements in your area.

The Filter Guy

Scott Birch is a water filtration installer and designer. He has worked in the industry for many years and is very familiar with and knowledgeable about residential water treatment equipment. Scott enjoys helping people get the most out of their water filtration systems and ensuring that their homes are getting the best possible quality of water.

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