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What is the Average Lifespan of a Water Softener?

Jennifer Hansen
Last Updated on
by Jennifer Hansen

Water softeners can be a godsent in areas with mineral-rich water. You might not realize how important they are when you have one, but as soon as your water softener starts to go bad, you’ll notice things like calcium build-up, skin breakouts, or even strange, unpleasant odors.

Fortunately, a good water softener can last more than a decade, but that doesn’t mean it should be out of sight, out of mind. In this article, we’ll teach you about how long your water softener should last, what you can do to keep it in good shape, and problems you should keep an eye out for.

How Long Do Water Softeners Last?

Most water softeners last between 10-15 years, but as technology continues to grow and evolve, this number might change. In some cases, water softeners can last up to twenty years. Water softener life expectancy also depends on several other factors, including:

  • The size and quality of your water softener
  • How much water you use
  • How often you service your water softener
  • The initial quality of your home’s water
  • How well the water softener was installed

Depending on how and when your water softener stops working, you may not notice a change. If it happens gradually, you might not notice something like the smell or taste of your water as it changes. That’s why it’s so essential to perform routine maintenance, check the health of your water softener, and refill it as necessary.

However, just because your water softener stops working doesn’t mean it’s broken. Your water softener may just need a tune-up, a replacement part, or something as simple as more salt in the brine tank. Before replacing your water softener, make sure to have a professional check and see if it requires a full replacement or just a quick fix.

The question, then, is when should you fix, and when should you replace? Generally, if your water softener is running as it should, you should let it be, regardless of its age. However, if your water softener is ten years old or more and is starting to give you issues, it may be time to consider replacing it.

Getting a new water softener can have all sorts of benefits.  As with any appliance, upgrading to a new unit — even from one that’s only a few years old — can often improve efficiency, accessibility, durability, and much more. Some water softeners can even connect to your smartphone or another smart device to tell you when it needs maintenance or a refill.

Related: The Best Alternatives To Water Softener

How To Make Your Water Softener Last Longer

If you’re looking to get as much life out of your water softener as possible, the best thing you can do is perform routine maintenance on it. Just like with a car, your water softener requires both preventative and diagnostic services to run in tip-top shape.

The maintenance that your water softener requires may differ depending on which type, brand, and model you have. Some examples of maintenance tasks you may need to tackle include:

  • Filter replacement
  • Flush the resin tank
  • Refill the salt supply
  • Top off regenerant levels
  • Clean the brine tank

If you don’t keep up with these tasks, you could significantly reduce your water softener’s lifespan.

Related: Can I Sanitize Water Softener With Bleach?

Warning Signs That Your Water Softener Needs Replacement

The next best way to keep tabs on your water softener (after preventative maintenance, of course) is to keep an eye out for malfunctions. When a water softener isn’t working properly, it’ll allow untreated or partially-treated water through.

The full list of warning signs you should keep watch for includes:

  • Dry or itchy hair and skin
  • Uncharacteristic skin pimples or breakouts
  • Scratchy or stiff clothing after washing
  • Strange smell or taste
  • Crusty pipes and faucets
  • Soap that refuses to lather
  • Water spots on dishes and windows

Related: How To Tell If Your Water Softener Is Working

Water Softener Benefits

A water softener, like many appliances, isn’t required for you to live a happy, comfortable life. It’s more an appliance of convenience since a water softener provides many benefits that can make home life more convenient. Some of these benefits include:

  • Healthier hair and skin
  • Softer, cleaner clothes
  • Water-connected appliances that run better (and longer)
  • Less hard water build-up on pipes, showerheads, faucets, and dishes

However, depending on where you live, a water softener may not be necessary for you. If you live in an area that receives treated city water, you may not need a softener. Some geographical areas also have fewer minerals in their water naturally.

However, do keep in mind that a water softener isn’t the be-all, end-all for water issues. While they’re great for filtering out minerals, other problems like acidity, heavy metals, and dissolved solids can’t be fixed by a water softener alone. As such, if you’ve fixed your water softener but still experience issues, you may need to invest in an additional filtration device.

Water Softener Maintenance Professional

Final Thoughts

All in all, as long as you maintain your water softener as you would any other appliance, it’ll reward you with a long, useful life. As long as you do this, you likely won’t have to replace your water softener many times throughout your lifetime.

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About Jennifer Hansen
Jennifer Hansen
Jennifer is a clean water enthusiast and the lead editor of Water Filter Spot and created this website several years ago to share information that she's been researching in this industry for over 20 years.Jennifer studied environmental resource science in college and studied Western US water issues, including water policy, water rights, water pollution and environmental concerns.
Jennifer Hansen
  1. Generally, water softeners last from 3 years to 30 years. This wide range of lifespan is due to a lot of factors. And this already considers the quality of various water softeners in the market today.

  2. my water softener has gray to white spots on the surface, which appear to be crust buildup. But we have only used it for 3-4 years so we don’t want to change to a new machine yet.

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