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  • Take The SOFTENER FINDER Quiz

  • September 08, 2022 8 min read

    How Long Do Water Softener Last?

    how long do water softeners last

    Water softeners perform an extremely important job, removing minerals such as calcium and magnesium from the water in your home. Just like any other appliance, a water softener will only last for so long. Eventually, components break, electrical problems occur, and it just stops working.

    While they can last much longer if well maintained, water softeners have a typical lifespan of between 10 and 15 years. If your water softener was installed more than a decade ago, replacing it may be the right option

    How long a water softener lasts will also depend greatly on how much it is used, which is dictated by the quality of your home’s water. If you are softening extremely hard water or well water with iron, your equipment may need to be replaced sooner.

    As there is no definite time when you should replace a water softener, it is important to learn how to spot the signs of your water softener starting to fail.

    Water softening systems are worthwhile investments that eliminate all of a home’s hard water troubles. How long is a water softener good for and how can you tell if a water softener is working properly? A high-quality softening system will last between 10 to 15 years. But if your water tastes funny or you’re seeing those awful hard water spots on the glassware, it’s time to take a closer look.

    When water softeners are properly installed and maintained, they can operate for years with minimal maintenance. If you notice a change in the quality of your water, it’s in your best interest to have your softener periodically serviced by a water treatment specialist.

    Cleaning the brine tank, using the right type of high-quality salt, making sure hardness settings are accurate, and simply checking that an outlet is working, are steps homeowners can take on their own to help ensure their system runs smoothly.

    What is the average life expectancy of a water softener?

    Water softeners can last 10 to 20 years, depending on the type and quality you buy. On average, a single tank electric water softener could last you up to 12 years, while a Kinetico system can last as many as 20 years. However, no appliance lasts forever. If your system is 5 years old and you start to notice some of the hard water symptoms we noted above, it’s probably time for repair. However, if your water softener is 10 years of more, if might be time for a replacement. The sooner you call for a professional inspection, the better your chances of fixing a problem rather than suffering an expensive failure.

    What Impacts Water Softener Lifespan?

    The lifespan of a water softener is impacted by several factors, note the least of which is where it is used and how often. Let’s look at some of the factors that can affect your water softener’s lifespan.

    Water Hardness

    The hardness of your tap water is a major factor in your water softener’s lifespan. Water hardness varies depending on where you are in the country and is usually measured as parts per million (PPM).

    According to data from the U.S. Geological Survey, though hard and very hard waters are found in water sources throughout the country, the hardest water shows up in Texas, New Mexico, Kansas, Arizona and southern California. Homeowners living in any of these states might find their home water softeners don’t last as long as they do in other areas. 

    Water Use in the Home

    How much water you use on a daily basis in your home will have a significant impact on your water softener’s lifespan. If your water use is higher than average, you know your water softener is working harder, and it needs more maintenance. This may also mean your softener requires replacement sooner.

    Typical water use is 60 to 100 gallons per person per day, which means a family of four will use about 240 to 400 gallons a day on average. If you aren’t sure how much water you use in your home daily, you can estimate your water usage with this online calculator.

    Water Softener Maintenance

    How well and how often you service your water softener can play a big role in how long it lasts. As a general rule, you should check your water softener quarterly to spot any tell-tale signs of water softener malfunction and to determine if it’s time for a replacement. 

    In addition to regular check-ins of your softening system’s function, yearly professional inspection of your softener is key for extending its life. A service professional can make sure it’s clean and functioning well, optimize your settings, replace any parts that are worn out, and assess the quality of your water.

    Quality of Installation

    Similar to any appliance in your home, the quality of water softener installation will impact how well it performs and how long it lasts. When properly sized and installed, most water softeners can last years with minimal maintenance — but the opposite can occur if the installation is done poorly.

    Though it’s possible to install a water softener yourself, a professional will know whether you need new pipes, can help remove and dispose of old systems and will have all the proper tools for quick and effective installation. Plus, if there’s any problem, they can return and fix any issues and save you money in the long run.

    Signs your water softener is wearing out

    Here are a few things that might indicate that your water softener needs a professional service or replacement.

    1. Soap Doesn’t Lather

    One of the signs of increased hard water levels is that soap doesn’t lather properly. If you’re struggling to soap up in the shower at home, then you need to examine your water softener.

    2. Laundry Issues

    Washing clothing in hard water can make them scratchy, stiff, and uncomfortable. Fabric softener can help with this issue, but you’ll need to think about examining your water softener long-term. Hard water can also damage your washing machine and other household appliances too.

    3. Build up Around Faucets and Pipes

    The minerals that cause hard water can sometimes build up around your pipes and faucets, an indication that your system is in much need of a clean-up. Pay attention to your faucets when you’re cleaning, as they may indicate that you need a new water softener.

    4. Change in Drinking Water Taste

    Salt water softeners also improve the taste of your water by removing excess components like calcium. If you discover that your water suddenly begins to taste different, then it might be time to try a different machine.

    How often should you replace your water softener?

    Though water softeners play an integral role in the treatment of your home’s tap water, they don’t last forever. Just like any appliance, regular maintenance and quality installation impact how long your water softener will last. Instead of spending money on replacing your water softener, try these maintenance tips first. While you could install and ignore your water softener until something seems amiss, taking a few simple steps can keep it in optimal working condition and extend its life for years. There are steps you can take to prolong the life of your water softener. You’ll spend less on repairs and ensure that the water in your home is continuously supplied with soft water by following these helpful tips and tricks.

    • Check Your System’s Functional Regularly
    • Inspect your equipment quarterly: Check for leaks and other problems. Be sure to look inside the brine tank for salt bridges, which should be broken up with something like a broom handle.
    • Clean the brine tank: Check your owner’s manual to find out the best way to clean it out, which should happen every six months or so.

    Change the filter: Your owner manual will be able to walk you through this process. If you have a Kinetico water softening system, it may use an in-line filter and this will occasionally require replacement. Add a prefilter: Your water may have excess iron, chlorine, sediments or sludge that your water softener wasn’t meant to handle. Adding the right prefilter to your system will help handle these additional water issues. Change filters as directed by the manufacturer. Your system manual will be able to guide you through how to use your in-line filters properly.

    • Add Salt: You need to make sure your softener never runs out of Salt. Refill before water is visible in the brine drum or softener cabinet. Use high-quality pellet rather than rock or solar salt. It costs more, but its higher purity means less residue build-up. That will save you money in the long run. Your manual will tell you what kind of water softener salts to use in your home. You won’t need much – just enough to follow the instructions provided.
    • The resin bed of an electric softener needs flushing with softener cleaner every year or so. This helps to keep your water softener in peak condition. If you have a single tank electric softener, you will need to flush the resin bed with water softener cleaner about once a year to retain the effectiveness of the resin beads.
    • Don’t replenish the salt supply until the tank is down to 1/3 full. When you refill, leave 4-6 inches (about 1/4 of the tank) empty. Check the salt level every 4-6 weeks: Don’t wait for issues to take a peek into the brine tank. Leave your salt half-filled or less so you can easily monitor it.
    • Use the right kind of salt: Most modern units use cubes with purified salt, but check your manual to see what it recommends. Don’t have your manual anymore?
    • When you’re adding new water softener salt, look for any hardened bridges in your system and remove them with a brush handle. Additionally, remember that you shouldn’t be forcing your machine to work too hard. Properly sizing your water softeners and making sure that they’re big enough for your home will help to lengthen your water softener life expectancy.When you add salt, look for any hardened “salt bridges” and remove them.
    • Don’t make the softener work too hard. The setting should be high enough to properly soften your water, but anything higher will only cause undue wear. Ask your dealer for advice if you aren’t sure especially since we have such hard water here.

     

    With just a little effort, you can significantly extend the life of your water softener, and enjoy the benefits of soft water for many years. You can help ensure the long life of your water softener by making the right choice when selecting one for your home. Single tank electric systems are often cheaper, but may require for more time for maintenance. Kinetico water systems are engineered to provide you with quality water, all the time, and without requiring extensive and frequent maintenance.  

    If routine troubleshooting doesn’t work or safety issues are a concern, call for service. An expert can diagnose serious problems indicating it’s time for a new system, or identify simple solutions such as adding more salt to the brine tank or clearing blockages and control valves. When you’re not able to find the cause of a system gone awry, don’t ever leave it to chance. Addressing the problem immediately can help avoid costly future repairs.

    Is it time to replace your water softener?

    If you have complaints about your home’s water quality, there’s a good chance there may be more than just hardness causing your frustration. Remember to read your manual if you’re not sure how to maintain your new purchase. Many of the instructions that come with these machines will answer any questions you might have about keeping your device as robust and durable as possible.

     

    Some people assume water softeners can fix a variety of problems, but these systems are specifically designed to remove hard minerals. Other problems, such as excessive iron, acidity, and the level of total dissolved solids (TDS) will require additional filtration. So it is possible your water softener is working correctly and a different type of equipment is needed.

    Water quality changes over time. If you are thinking of replacing your water softener or having it serviced, it is a good idea to get your home’s water tested so you get the right water treatment equipment. Experts from Water-Right’s family of brands can give you reliable advice and recommend the right solutions.