Water Filtration Equipment & Installation

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Fix-Me-Up Water Filtration Equipment & Installation List of Recommended Plumbing Books

Homeowner's Complete Guide to Plumbing; Merle Henkenius; Hardcover (Hard to Find)

Means Plumbing Change Order Cost Data, 1991; John J. Moylan; Paperback (Hard to Find)

Means Plumbing Cost Data 1994; Melville J. Mossman (Editor); Paperback (Hard to Find)

Residential Plumbing; Peter Jones; Hardcover (Hard to Find)

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Section 5.0 - Installation Procedure:

Plumbing must conform to all local and state plumbing, safety, and sanitation codes. You can find out what codes you need to comply with and whether you must have a building permit by calling your local city or county assessor's office. Many people do not bother to obtain the proper permit to do the installation. The belief is that the assessor will raise taxes if you do any improvements to your building. The real negative to not obtaining the permit is that if it could be proved that the installation was at fault for fire or water damage, your insurance company could void your claim if they found out the work was not inspected.  Refer to Figure 10, Water Softener & Iron Filter Installation as a guide for your system installation.

Note: The installation for an iron filter is identical to a typical water softener installation.

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5.1 Location

The following steps need to be taken for determining the location for your water filter installation:

1.   Determine where you will locate your water filter or water softener.  

The ideal place for your installation is an out of the way location on a hard, level surface.  A distance of at least 8 feet of pipe between the outlet of the filter to the inlet of the water heater is required.

Note 1: If the distance of pipe between the filter outlet and your hot water heater inlet is less than 8 feet, you need to place a check valve in line to prevent backflow of water. A backflow preventer with an intermediate atmospheric vent conforming to the American Society of Sanitary Engineering (ASSE) Standard 1012 or a reduced pressure principle backflow preventer conforming to ASSE 1013 shall be installed in the water supply to the plumbing product. In Wisconsin, plumbing plan approval must be obtained before the installation of reduced pressure principle backflow preventers.

Note 2: If a check valve is required, an expansion tank must be installed between the check valve and water heater.
Notes 1 & 2 mean make sure you have at least 8 feet of pipe between your water filter and hot water heater, not to be 8 feet apart. This will save you a few dollars of special valves or expansion tanks. The only real draw back is that you will need to purchase an extra 8 to 10 feet of pipe and a few extra 90 degree elbows.

   If you have determined that more than one filter is needed or you are also installing a water softener, make floor space for it also. Poor planning will create additional work for you later.
Never install water filtration equipment where the temperatures are below 32 degrees F (0 degrees C) or more than 122 degrees F (50 degrees C).
Do not install this equipment near acids or acid fumes.


Do not put this equipment where children, pets, or small animals can tamper with the filter, or filter lines. When installing the iron & sulfur filter, prevent access to the Potassium Permanganate container. Potassium Permanganate is a deadly poison.

2.   Determine where you will get electrical power to operate your water filter controller.

WARNING: Electrical Power Can Kill or Maim.

    An electrical outlet with 120 volts A.C. fused with a 15 Amp fuse or breaker is recommended to plug the servo motor that controls your water filtration equipment.  If power is not available, you will have a small side project of adding an outlet near your installation. These systems use very little electric current. Pulling electric power from an outlet within the vicinity of your installation is typically not a problem.
All local and state codes on electrical wiring apply. Typically in most states, a homeowner can do the wiring himself provided he does it according to local code.  A building permit to do any wiring may also be required in some major cites and municipalities.   
Electrical power can kill. Before attempting to do any wiring, find out how to do it before attempting to wing it. There are several basic electrical wiring books available on how to do this. An additional source of information would be National Fire Prevention Association #70, also known as the National Electric Code (NEC).     

If you are doing the wiring yourself, ensure you shut off the power to the outlet you are tapping into before hooking an additional outlet up. It is also a good idea check the voltage on your outlet. If you do not have a volt meter, you can use a circuit tester. These are inexpensive and in actuality are a neon bulb with leads. Another alternative is to plug a small electric lamp into the outlet and try the outlet before plugging power to your water filtration unit to see if you errored in wiring. 

3.   Ensure you have a drain available. If not, you will probably need to put one in.
A drain for the water used during the regeneration process and chemical tank or brine tank overflow is needed. Because Potassium Permanganate, the chemical used to regenerate a iron & sulfur filter is a poison, filter regeneration water cannot be discharged to the open ground, open tanks, or any where other than a sanitary drainage system(I.E. a city sewer or to a septic tank).

Place the Potassium Permanganate holding tank where a drain is available. You will need to put an overflow hose from the potassium Permanganate solution tank to a drain in case of an overflow.

The drain must be capable of carrying the the maximum flow rate of your specific water softener. The drain can be either a regular floor drain, utility drain (I.E. Washing machine tub), or a stand pipe. An air gap to break siphon action is also required.  Most water softener & water filter provide drain line sizing information along with the equipment.

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5.2 Installation
Acquire the needed tools and materials to do the installation. Refer to the tool list and material list.
Precut your pipes and try fitting them together before soldering.
Tip 1: When installing your filter, water softener, valves, etc., make sure everything is plumbed correctly. Most filters, water softeners, and valves are marked with arrows cast right in the parts to show the direction of water through the system starting from the raw water source and pointing to the rest of the plumbing in the house.
Tip 2: Try fitting all your piping together as you go so it goes together without binding. Make sure all the pipes except for the last two pipes you need to hook up to your intended break in the water line. File off any burrs that develop from cutting the pipe.
3. Clean your copper pipe fittings well. Your fittings should be clean, shiny, and free of dirt and oxidation.
Tip 3: Use of a fine grade emery cloth or sand paper works well, however, don't use a medium or course grade of sandpaper (greater than 100 grit). It may rough up the material to a point where it won't slide together well during assembly.


Make sure the water is turned off. This is the most obvious step to your installation, the most important, and sometimes the hardest to do if your main water valve is old and leaks.

Once you have your pipes precut, you are ready to flux the joints and solder them. The process of soldering and wiping excess solder from copper pipes is also know as sweating the joints.


Use proper care and follow manufacturers instructions on use and safety when using.

Propane torches generate heat from an open flame. Use extreme care to keep all flammable materials away from the open flame and hot parts.

Keep a portable fire extinguisher available in your work area in the event of fire. Ensure your fire extinguisher is rated for all materials capable of starting fire in your installation area.
Use a thermal barrier (either fiberglass mat or wood stove underlayment) where needed.

Flux is typically in a wax state. Apply flux so a thin coat is on the outside of the pipe and inside the joint to be soldered.
Tip 4: Flux only needs to be applied to the areas where you want solder.
Tip 5: Because it takes a lot of heat to get valves soldered, be sure to take any seals or valve handles out of the valves before soldering. The valve won't be any good to you if the seals are all warped and leak.
Tip 6: Do not solder directly on your control valve/filtration tank. Heat will damage the unit. Instead, remove the inlet and outlet brass nuts found of the filtration unit and solder on a section of pipe for an extension.  A minimum of 5 inches is typically recommended.

Apply heat to the joints, one at a time. Once you see the flux activated, apply solder. When flux is activated, it will cause the color of the copper to change from a shiny copper to a salmon pink color. At this point the copper is free from contaminations as will allow the solder to "wet". Wetting refers to the way solder coats the copper as if it were dipped into a liquid and got wet.
Tip 7: Solder flows toward heat. When soldering, apply heat to the thickest part of a fitting. When soldering elbows, heating the outside corner works well.
Tip 8: If you do not have any experience at soldering, it would be worth your effort to purchase a few additional fittings and additional pipe and practice soldering. In most cases you will be able to solder the joint. However, a little practice before you attempt to do your project may mean the difference between getting it right the first time or doing it over. I strongly recommend soldering as many fittings to pipe sections in an open area. Use a thermal barrier (either a  fiberglass mat or wood stove underlayment) when soldering near flammable materials. (I.E. Studs in walls & floor joists)
Tip 9: Start your project so if you do run out parts or have a problem, there is still time to get to a hardware store to get the needed parts.

After the solder has wicked around the entire joint, excess solder is wiped from around the joint with a damp rag. Allow the joint time to cool down before attempting to solder the next joint. This will keep the total amount of heat down on a specific joint so you don't get it to hot. If to hot, when the joint you are soldering finally flows, the last joint you soldered could slides down or fall off.
8. The first items soldered are typically the pipe fittings that come with the water filtering system. Take the fittings off (and take any rubber, nylon, or plastic off the fittings), assemble the initial pipe sections to them, flux, and solder. Keep soldering the parts together until you are ready to cut into the water line.
9. In most cases, the most difficult part of an iron filter or water oftener installation is tapping into the water line. Perform the following:

a.) Ensure water is turned off.(If you have a well, turn of your pump.

b.) Open the faucets to relieve pressure in the water lines. This will also allow the water to drain to the lowest point in the plumbing.

Figure 10 - Water Softener & Iron Filter Installation

       Tip 10: Don't cut the pipe to close to the shut off valve. If you damage you shut-off valve. If you damage you shut-off valve from to much heat, you may be asking for more problems than you can remedy in a day, not to mention expense.
Tip 11: Water left in a pipe that is cut off absorbs heat energy from your torch and will generate steam. I have on occasion even siphoned water out of pipes using a small diameter hose to prevent steam and allow the joint to get hot enough to solder.
Tip 12: Have as much ready to solder before hand. I once had a situation while installing a water softener where I discovered the shut off valve leaked after draining the water line. Because the shut-off valve leaked, the water pipe filled up with water again before I had totally finished soldering. To finish the job, I cheated. I drilled a small hole ( 0.1065 Diameter - #36 Drill) to allow the pipe to drain while I finished soldering. Once the soldering was completed, I tapped the hole for a #6-32 thread and ran a brass #6-32 screw into the hole (Precoat with a thin coat of solder) under and on the head of the screw. I then soldered the screw head to the pipe. A self tapping screw works if you don't have a tap available. Also, be careful not to over torque the screw, Copper tubing doesn't have much wall thickness and the screw could be stripped very easily.

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Section 6 - Recommended Tool List

Item No.  



Cost Range(Each)



1 Ea. Tubing Cutter

$6 to $18

Used for copper tubing & pipe only.


1 Ea. Wire Brush

$2 to $6

Used for copper tubing & pipe only.


1 Ea. Rat Tail File

$2 to $5

Used for copper tubing & pipe only.


1 Ea. Propane Torch & Propane Gas Cylinder

$8 to $18

Used for copper tubing & pipe only.


1 Ea. Hacksaw

$4 to $15

Used for copper tube, pipe or PVC pipe.


2 Ea. 12 Inch Adjustable Open End Wrench

$5 to $20

Used to tighten Unions to hook
up filter into water system.


1 Ea. Needlenose Pliers

$3 to $6

Used to cut 12 gauge(AWG) wire
for controller/timer 120 Volt A.C.
electrical outlet (if required).


1 Ea. Wire Stripper or jack knife

$3 to $5

Used to strip outlet wires (If using
knife be careful not to nick wires).


1 Ea. #2 Flatblade screwdriver (Standard)

$2 to $4

Used to tighten terminal screws on outlet(unless you use an outlet) with push in type terminations) and to assemble outlet & cover into electrical junction box.

Note: A hammer may be required if you use the type of junction box that has nails.

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