How Long Do Water Softeners Last?

Ideally, a good water softener will last you at least a decade. But this will not happen magically.

Proper care and timely maintenance are the two keys to improving your water softener life expectancy. But there is more to it as well.

This article will discuss how long a water softener lasts, how you can improve its lifecycle, and when you should replace your water softener.

Water filter and water softener installation

How Do Water Softeners Work?

A water softening system is used for the purposes of turning hard water into soft water. It has a resin bed inside it that consists of sodium ions.

When hard water passes through this resin, the resin beads attract the calcium and magnesium ions and trap them inside.

The sodium ions from the resin beads are then released into the hard water. This whole process results in the creation of soft water.

There are plenty of benefits of using a water softener. First and foremost, it removes the extra calcium and magnesium from your water supply.

The soft water thus created provides us with a multitude of advantages.

Soft water is better to use for your hair and skin, whereas hard water only dries them out.

It also leaves your clothes looking cleaner. Hard water combines with soap to leave soap scum on the surface of your clothes. This does not happen with properly softened water because it does not have those ions that react with a detergent.

Washing clothes or utensils with softer water will also utilize a lesser amount of soap. This solves a lot of your laundry issues.

It continuously improves the water taste.

Soft water also does not cause scale buildup on the inside and outside of your water-based appliances (such as a washing machine), faucets, and pipes.

Brine tank and water softener in white background showing how regeneration process takes place

How Long Do Water Softeners Last?

This is an important question because everyone wants to get the full benefits out of the cost of the water softener that they paid.

Generally, this depends on the model, type, and brand you have. Other factors such as usage, hardness of water, water quality, etc., may also factor in, but these are the most basic ones.

An average single tank water softener will work for up to 12 years approximately. But you also have other water softeners that may even last up to 20 years.

Despite the decade-long average lifespan, it is essential to keep a check. If you start to notice different hard water symptoms after a couple of years of use, it is time to call a plumber.

If problems still persist, it might be time to replace the machine.

When to Replace Your Water Softener?

Water softeners last only for so long. If you have an old water softener, it would be better to replace it before your home’s water quality deteriorates significantly.

There are certain telltale signs your water softener is starting to fail. The typical lifespan can be around a decade, but it is a point of concern that you should investigate if you see these common signs before that.

Water taste

The first thing you’ll likely notice after getting a new water softener is the difference in taste. Hard water tastes alkaline because of all the minerals it has.

Because a water softener removes all these minerals, if you can still taste them, that means it’s time for a brand new water softener.

Crusty Buildup

If you find any mineral deposits on your faucets, pipes, or water-using appliances, it is a sign of a faulty water softener.

Because a water softener works to remove the minerals that cause these problems, it is concerning that it still happens while you have a water softener installed.

If the water softer had been working properly, this issue would not happen.

Laundry problems

Hard water makes your clothes stiff and dry. It also causes scum to get collected on the surface of the clothes.

Your clothes will not feel as clean as when they felt after water treatment by a softener.

Soap lather

This is something that can easily be tested in under one minute. Hard water does not create a good lather.

A faulty water softener becomes a big problem because it ultimately affects the food you eat, the clothes you wear, and even the working of your other appliance.

How to Increase the Lifespan of Your Water Softener?

So, the most asked question here was that how long do water softeners last? But before you come to that, you need to pay attention to all the signs and keep a well-maintained water softener.

Regular inspections

If you make it a habit to inspect your water softeners after every three months regularly, you can diagnose a lot of problems and cut them off at an early stage.

You can also run enough checks to ensure that the system of the water softener is working correctly.

This can really provide long life to your water softener because it has been taken care of timely.

Addition of a PreFilter

Installing a prefilter is one of the best moves you can take for your water softener.

Prefilters remove harmful sediments out of the water, such as dust, rust, etc.

If these particles are not removed, they can really affect the quality of water and the quality 0f the water softeners themselves.

A filter is also cheap, and you can get it in the range of 20 to 50 dollars. This small one-time investment can really benefit your water softener life expectancy.

Brine tank and resin for cleaning

Cleaning up the brine tank and the resin bed

For the first few years after purchasing your water softener, you should be cleaning the brine tank and resin bed once every two years.

But if the system is older than this, then it obviously requires more maintenance, perhaps once every year.

During the working of your water softener, gunk can accumulate at the bottom of the brine tank. If a certain component is clogged like this, it impacts the efficiency of the system.

Finding the right regenerant

There are different kinds of water softener salts, and it matters which one you use. The salt quality and structure can also impact the working of your softener.

For example, rock salt is not recommended for a water softener because this salt contains a high amount of calcium sulfate, which causes a lot of problems.

Solar salt pellets are a great option, especially if the hardness level in your water is high. Evaporated salt pellets are also a great option.

In short, make sure you only add salt that helps the performance of your water softeners.

Maintaining the salt levels

It is very important to keep the salt level in your softener at the required one. If it falls too low, it will affect the softening abilities as well as the regeneration process of the softener and hence, will cause a huge problem.


Do not be scared of your water softener going rogue. If you maintain it properly and use it with care, a good water softener will last you a long time.

It is also important that you keep in touch with a good plumber that helps you in maintaining an efficient system.