Water softeners are a necessary investment in regions like Phoenix, Arizona that are known for hard water. But how long does a water softener last? Is there anything you can do to make it last longer?
Today, we’ll explore these questions and more to give you a clear picture of what water softener maintenance entails.
How Long Does a Water Softener Last?
Well-maintained water softening equipment will last you for about 20 years.
That’s an estimate for a water softener in Phoenix, which has extremely hard water compared to most other American cities. It’s possible that your water softener will last even longer if you live in a region with softer water, but 20 years is the lifespan you can generally expect.
That doesn’t mean you can just leave your water softener alone for 20 years, though; they require regular maintenance and care.
Water Softener Maintenance
Now that we’ve answered the question of ‘how long should a water softener last?’ let’s explore the most significant factor that contributes to a long-lasting machine: maintenance.
Water softeners work by removing calcium and magnesium ions with a small amount of sodium ions. This is achieved through the use of resin beads that conduct the exchange as hard water passes through them.
Eventually, the beads become so inundated with calcium and magnesium ions that the tank must be regenerated. This process, which removes those mineral ions and restores sodium ions to the beads, happens automatically.
How Long Does Water Softener Resin Last?
Common sense would indicate that the resin beads can only be regenerated so many times before they lose their effectiveness. Lucky for you, that typically doesn’t happen for about 20 years, which is the typical lifespan of a water softener anyway.
If your local water is rich in chlorine or iron, however, the lifespan for water softener resin can be significantly shorter. You can still replace the beads without tossing the whole unit, however; consult your water softener experts (that’s American Home Water & Air if you’re in Phoenix, Arizona) to find out the proper protocol for your machine.
You’ll know the resin beads are spent when the machine has to regenerate every day; a machine with healthy beads should only need to regenerate about once every 12,000 gallons for a family of four.
Resin beads are just one component of your water softener, though. There are other components that need more regular attention — like salt.
How Long Does Water Softener Salt Last?
The resin beads in water softeners get their sodium ions from salt that you must add to the brine tank portion of your softener. This is usually in a tank that is completely separate from the one containing the beads.
You’ll need to refill the salt once every two to three months. This salt can either be coarse or in pellet form; either way, you’ll find it at your local grocery store.
Let’s quantify this further — how long does a bag of water softener salt last? You can expect to use two 40 pound bags every refilling period. That will run you less than $30 per bag.
The Patriot, a model of water softener that we carry, boasts an intelligent regeneration process that will use about 50% less salt.
We’ve covered the water softener maintenance requirements at both ends of the spectrum — decades and months. In the middle of that range is periodic servicing.
Most aspects of water softener servicing are things you can do on your own. Rarer, more specialized issues require expert care.
In the case of the former, clean the brine tank once a year. Salt contains contaminants that can build up in your brine tank. You should also use a rust stain remover like Iron Out to clean the resin bed out once yearly.
The costs associated with these habits are fairly negligible.
If your water softener is not properly filtering your water even after you replace the resin beads and refill the brine tank, it may be time to contact an expert for servicing.
With American Home Water & Air, you’re in good hands. Our President water softener comes with a 10 year parts and labor warranty. The Patriot comes with a five year warranty, which is still plenty.
With either units, you can expect years of service-free use.
Even if you require servicing beyond your warranty, you’ll be happy to know that American Home Water & Air does not pay technicians based on commission. They’re incentivized to get the job done right the first time and in a way that works for you.
Beyond the servicing considerations we’ve outlined in this section, quality water softeners like the ones we provide do not require much else by way of servicing.
Common Signs Your Water Softener is Malfunctioning
We’ve answered questions like ‘how long does salt last in a water softener?’ and ‘how long does a water softener last?’ — but now let’s look at some clear signs that something is amiss.
- Crusty Pipes: This indicates that your equipment is not softening the water enough. The crusty substance is the minerals that are not being filtered properly.
- Soap Doesn’t Lather: Properly softened water produces a chemical reaction with soap that causes it to lather. If your soap is not lathering and hence is difficult to wash off your skin, these are clear signs your softener is not working properly.
- Your Water’s Taste Changes: Soft water has a distinctly different taste than hard water. Some describe it as being ‘smoother.’ It’s hard to miss your water’s taste changing if you drink it daily.
In most cases, these symptoms indicate that you simply need to either refill your brine tank with salt or, at worst, replace the resin beads. If the issue persists despite your self-servicing, contact an expert.
By now you should know the answer to the question, ‘how long should a water softener last?’ — about 20 years. That’s easily achievable with proper attention to the user-serviceable parts of your water softener.
If you live in Phoenix and are in the process of installing a new water softener, we hope you’ll choose American Home Water & Air. We’ll be happy to provide you tips for getting the most out of your particular water softener.