How long does a water softener last?

Last updated on: December 1, 2022.

Water softeners play an essential role in treating the tap water in our homes. But, just like other appliances, regular maintenance will ensure that it lasts long and performs effectively. And, just like other appliances, components can break, parts may need to be replaced, or the system just stops working. 

How Long Do Water Softeners Last

Water softener lifespan is around 10 and 15 years.

How long a water softener can last will depend greatly on how much it is used, which is dictated by your home’s water quality.

If you are softening considerably high hard water or well water with iron, your system may need to be replaced sooner.

As there is no pre-defined time when you should replace a water softener, it is better to know the signs of your water softener not performing as it should.

Check for these signs if it’s time to replace your water softener:

limescale at the bottom of the kettle

There are a few signs that tell you that your home’s water softening system isn’t doing its job by giving the quality of water you need. Still, noticing these signs alone may not be reason enough to replace the system. It could simply mean your water softener needs servicing.

Other reasons for the poor performance of the water softener could be that there might be a component that needs replacing, or you may need to replace the media. It could also mean that you forgot to add salt to the brine tank.

Sometimes, valves can get jammed, or the softener could require cleaning. If you are not able to zero in on the problem, you can always seek professional assistance. Here you have four common signs that tell you that your system needs checking.

1. Not Lathering Enough 

If your soap or shampoo refuses to lather, you know you have a problem with the water softener. You will notice that you have to use a lot more soap to get a minimal lather, or you are going through shampoos and soaps faster than is normal.

2. Laundry Problems 

Washing clothes in hard water can make them age faster. They also feel stiff and scratchy. While a fabric softener can counteract this problem to some extent, it is more useful to check that the water softener is removing minerals and working properly.
 
Hard water can also harm your washing machine as well as other appliances such as dishwashers and hot water heaters.

3. Scale Build-up In Pipes   

Minerals naturally present in hard water cause a limescale buildup in your pipes and faucets, especially in kitchens and bathrooms. If you spot a chalky substance building up, it is time to check the water softener. You may also find white spots in your kitchenware that are caused by hard water. 

4. Your Water Smells And Tastes Different

Hard water has a different taste. If you are usually drinking soft water, any change in the taste will quickly alert you to the water quality. You will notice that there is an increase in mineral content in your tap water. You may also find that there is a smell to the water that was not there before. Then, it is time to get your water softener repaired or replaced. 

How much does it cost to fix a faulty water softener?

On average, water softener repair costs $150 to $600. It also depends on the size. Small systems installed at the point of use, under the sink, or on faucets are more cost-effective to fix than large whole-house units. The easy-to-fix problems include an empty brine tank, a jammed valve, or some parts that need cleaning.

➡ A professional inspection is highly recommended every couple of years, and it costs $40 to $100, not including parts.
➡ A water softener generally lasts 10 to 15 years. If the repair costs exceed $600, you may be better off with a new system.
➡ A water softener costs $10 to $20 per month to run on average, including salt refills and maintenance over time. As the unit ages, its efficiency may drop, and the average monthly cost may increase.

Is it worth fixing a water softener?

If the water softener is less than five years old, it is most likely still under the manufacturer’s warranty. So, it is worth repairing during this period. If your water softener is more than ten years old, replacing it with a brand new water softener may be more cost-effective.

What is the average lifespan of water softener?

There are three types of water softeners – salt-based ion-exchange softener, on-demand controlled water softener, and dual tank water softener. 

Salt-based Ion Exchange Water Softener:

The most common water softener is the one with water softener salts. It is a salt-based ion-exchange one. It exchanges hard minerals like magnesium and calcium for sodium ions supplied by the salt in the brine tank. Water passes through the water softener resin beads to swap hard minerals to sodium ions resulting in softened water. The salt-based water softener uses a single tank for resin and salt brine. Such standard water softeners can last from 10 to 15 years.

On-demand Controlled Water Softener:

On-demand controlled water softeners have an additional level of functionality that helps them operate more efficiently. The on-demand controlled water softener keeps track of water usage and triggers regeneration after a predetermined amount of water has been used. With proper maintenance, on-demand controlled water softeners can also last up to 15 years.

Dual Tank Water Softener:

Dual tank water softeners have two tanks instead of one. Dual tank water softeners handle regeneration differently. They regenerate on demand, and when they regenerate one tank, the system switches over to the second tank.

So, there’s no waiting for a process to end before soft water is available again. It also uses soft water mixed with salty brine to regenerate, enhance efficiency, and thoroughly clean the systems. A dual-tank water softener can last for 15 years with regular maintenance. 

Which is the most durable water softener?

DURAWATER Fleck 5600 SXT Iron Pro 48,000 Grain Water Softener is our top pick.

✔ The DURAWATER Fleck 5600 SXT Iron Pro 48,000 Grain Water Softener is a water softener, and iron filter, all in one.
✔ 48, 000-Grain capacity, fine mesh resin designed for high iron removal and long lifespan
✔ The Fleck 5600Sxt digital metered valve makes it efficient and easy to use.
✔ It comes with a 5-year warranty
✔ Removes all hardness, iron up to 6-8 ppm range, manganese up to 6 ppm, sediment, sand, rust
✔ It is suitable for homes with 2-5 people, 2-3 baths

Our Review:

The DuraWater 1.5 cubic ft of upgraded fine mesh resin 48,000 Grain Water Softener provides your entire home with the soft water you need. This water softener comes fully loaded to save you the hassle of putting in your own media and cuts down the installation time. The fully programmable Fleck 5600 SXT metered paddle wheel control valve is easy to navigate and even easier to program, making it customizable. 

What we liked the most:

☑ The Durawater Fleck 5600 SXT is a softener and iron filter.
☑ It has a fine mesh resin designed for high iron removal and a long lifespan
☑ It comes with a 5-year warranty
☑ DIY instructions are clear. 

Scope of Improvement:

☐ It could be less expensive.
☐ It takes 60 gallons of water for regeneration using more water than other models.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. What affects the performance of water softener?

Some of the factors that affect the performance of a water softener include: 

1. The bypass valve that directs the water may be turned in the wrong way, 
2. The timer of the regenerating may not be set correctly, or it has failed. 
3. There is too little or too much salt.
4. There may not be the right amount of water in the tank.
5. The condition of the resin and its regeneration. 

2. Do you need a service plan for water softener?

If you are familiar with fixing appliances, you may service your water softener on your own. But, for those that aren’t, having a service plan is best.

Performing preventive maintenance requires turning off the water supply, opening the valve vent, and many more steps requiring knowledge of how the system is built. It is better to schedule routine service and maintenance with service professionals. 

3. How often should you clean a water softener?

Cleaning the water softener once a month should suffice, or clean the brine tank every time you refill it. 

4. When to call a professional?

When you have finished troubleshooting on your own, you will have an idea of what the problem is. If it is something that you can’t fix, you may need to call a professional to get properly softened water.

Conclusion

Water softener life expectancy depends on the care and maintenance just like all other systems and household appliances. For it to be cost-efficient, it must last long enough to make it worth the investment. We have discussed the factors that can give you an idea of their lifespan, including signs that you can watch out for in order to do preventive maintenance. It may be better to have a scheduled service contract with professionals to make sure that you only get clear and soft water in your home.

Whether professional servicing or doing it on your own, regular water softener maintenance is key to optimum performance of water softeners.

About The Author

Our Web Producer

Judith— a passionate water treatment specialist — is a waste water management enthusiast, clean drinking water advocate, and someone with deep personal experience and knowledge about various water equipments. Her work was mentioned in countless notable water associations. Previously she was an editor at Water Alliance.