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How Long Do Water Softeners Last

If you have a water softener in your home or if you’re thinking of adding one, then you’re probably curious about their longevity. So today, that’s what we’re gonna tackle.

What is a Water Softener?

As its name implies, a water softener “softens” hard water by removing large concentrations of minerals. It is a popular water filtration option for homes.

A typical water softener consists of a tall, narrow water-softener tank, and a short, wide brine tank. The softener tank is connected to the home’s water-supply line, a small-diameter fill tube connects the brine tank to the softener tank, and a discharge hose runs from the softener tank to a nearby drainpipe or drywell.

The softener tank is filled with specially formulated resin beads, which are permanently sealed inside the tank. The brine tank has a removable lid so you can fill it with salt pellets or potassium chloride pellets.

What is Hard Water?

You’ve probably heard the term “hard water” outside of this blog. After all, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, about 85 percent of American households have hard water. It doesn’t mean that the water is hard to the touch. It means that it has a higher concentration of minerals — mainly calcium and magnesium — which you might notice in the taste, look, and the residue the water leaves behind.

That residue is actually how hard water got its name! Over time these deposits/mineral residue can accumulate, clog, or even corrode pipes and cause major plumbing problems. Hard water deposits can build up in boilers and hot water heaters, making them less efficient and more expensive to use.

Besides that, it often does come with a noticeable smell and taste, but it is not harmful to you. A filtration system, such as a water softener, can help remove that.

How Does A Water Softener Work?

Since hard water has a lot of minerals and soft water doesn’t, you can think of water softeners like a magnet. The filtration system attracts the minerals to it, while letting the water pass through.

A water softener uses salt (it isn’t like your average table salt) to do this. You’ll have to refill the salt on a regular basis to ensure it keeps working efficiently.

When the system cleans itself, it flushes the salty water, which is filled with minerals, away. This leaves you with fresh and clean soft water.

How Long Do Water Softeners Last?

Now that you know how they work, it’s time to answer the big question: how long do water softeners last?

You’ll be happy to hear that they normally last between 10-20 years, depending on the type you have. On average, single tank units have a lifespan of about 12 years, though they have been known to last up to 20.

How to Prolong Its Life

Like with any piece of tech in your home, you can help prolong its life with regular maintenance. Here’s what you should do:

  • Change the filter. Your owner manual will be able to walk you through this process.

  • Refill the salt once it dips below ⅓ full.

  • If you have a single tank electric softener, flush the resin bed with water softener cleaner about once a year

  • When you add salt, look for any hardened “salt bridges” and remove them.

  • Don’t make the softener work too hard.

Common Signs Your Water Softener Isn’t Working Properly

Sometimes things break. It may not require a replacement, just servicing by a plumber. If you notice any of these things, it’s probably time for a water softener checkup.

Not Enough Lather with Soap

Hard water doesn’t lather well with soap. If you notice that your water isn’t producing the expected feel, then it may be due to your water softener.

Laundry Problems

Washing your clothes in hard water can make them stiff and scratchy and can damage your washing machine. If you notice a difference in your clothes or your washing machine, then don’t call a repairman, call a plumber.

Crusty Buildup Around Pipes and Faucets

The minerals that are naturally present in hard water can cause a crusty buildup around your sink, pipes, and faucets. Pay attention to your faucets when you are cleaning the kitchen and bathroom. If you notice a chalky substance building up around them, this could be a sign that you need to take a look at your softener.

Your Water Tastes Different

Hard water tastes different than soft water. If you notice a change in how your water tastes after you’ve gotten used to the smoother experience of soft water, then there may be a problem.

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