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How Long Do Water Softeners Last?

Did you know that our drinking water naturally contains minerals? How many minerals are in your tap water depends on where you live in the United States. There are some health benefits of drinking water that’s rich in minerals. 

Despite these benefits, mineral-rich water can make your water “hard” due to its high levels of magnesium and calcium. Hard water can result in limescale on your appliances and pipes. Water softeners are essential for removing these hard minerals. 

You might ask yourself, “how long do water softeners last?” Like anything, water softeners last for a specific period. Knowing how long they last will ensure your water stays mineral free. 

This guide will discuss everything you need to know about water softeners and how long they last. 

How Long Do Water Softeners Last?

Water softeners last around 10 to 20 years. Their lifespan depends on a few factors, such as:

  • Quality
  • Materials
  • Maintenance 
  • How much it’s used

If you’ve recently moved into a new home with a water softener and the previous owners don’t know how old it is, you can assume it’s at least five to eight years old. You’ll want to keep an eye on the water softener for signs that it’s beginning to fail instead of trying to guess its age. 

What Makes Water Hard?

Whether you get your home from city pipes or a private well, there’s more to it than H2O. Every source of water contains hard minerals. 

Magnesium and calcium are the two most common types of minerals found in water. They get into your water because groundwater dissolves rock and metals. The remanents travel with your water. 

These minerals create a scaly build-up on your pipes, dishes, and appliances. You can get build-up on your body, as well. Clogged plumbing and soap scum are typically caused by hard water. 

How Do Water Softeners Work?

As we mentioned earlier, water softeners work to remove hard minerals from your tap water. A water softener can get easily installed on your existing plumbing. 

There are many types of water softeners. A typical water softener includes storage for salt. It also has a tank that “softens” the water. 

A water softener captures the hard minerals in your water before it enters your home. There are resin beads inside the softener tank. When water passes through the tank, the beads trap the magnesium and calcium, exchanging them for potassium or sodium. 

Once the beads get full of magnesium and calcium, the potassium or salt solution gets rid of the unwanted minerals in the beads. The resulting solution transforms into a waste stream that goes down the drain and back into the environment. 

How Do I Know if I Need a Water Softener Replacement?

If you purchase and install a water softener, make note of the date of its installation. You can use that information to predict when you’ll need a replacement.

However, you might’ve forgotten when your water softener was installed or moved into a house where there already was one. There are a few signs you should watch out for that might signify you need a new water softener. 

These signs include:

  • Mineral spots on your dishes and in your bathroom
  • White buildup on faucets
  • Yellowish and reddish stains around faucets and drains
  • Scale build-up inside appliances that use water
  • Low water pressure in your shower
  • Your clothes feel scratchy
  • You need to use more soap to later dirty dishes and hands

All of the above symptoms are signs of hard water. If you begin to notice these symptoms in your house, your water softener might not be functioning properly. It could be time for water softener replacement or repair. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Water softener systems can be confusing. Let’s discuss some of the most frequently asked questions our specialists get. 

What Are Some Tips to Extend the Lifespan of My Water Softener?

There are a few things you can do to ensure your water softener system has a healthy and long life. These tips include:

  • Change your filter
  • Flush the resin bed with a cleaner once a year
  • Add a regenerant  
  • Remove hardened salt bridges

It can be challenging for the average homeowner to accomplish these tasks on their own. An experienced plumbing company can help you conduct routine maintenance. 

What Size Water Softener Do I Need for My House?

The best way to figure out how big of a water softener you need is to determine how many gallons of water you use each day. You can figure this out by multiplying how many people live in your house by the average number of gallons of water a person uses each day. The average number of gallons used is around 75. 

Once you have that number, you can multiply it by your water’s hardness level. For example, a family of four uses around 300 gallons of water daily. If your water hardness level is 7 GPG, you’ll need a water softener that can process around 2,100 GPG each day. 

What Are the Different Types of Water Softeners?

There are a few different water softener options. The most common type is an ion exchange water softener. They use the method of softening water that we discussed above. 

A dual-tank water softener has two resin tanks. One tank is always available to get used. The other tank is in its regeneration cycle. 

A dual-tank softener is more expensive than other options. They’re a great option if you have a large home that needs a lot of soft water. 

You can also explore salt-free water softeners. They utilize a potassium-chloride salt substitute instead of salt. 

Salt-free water softeners are a type of water conditioner. They don’t eliminate the hard minerals in your tap water. This type of softener works to prevent them from building up in your appliances or pipes. 

Stay on Top of Your Water Softener System 

So, “how long do water softeners last?” As you know now, water softeners last anywhere from 10 to 20 years. Staying on top of the maintenance of your water softener system is key to preventing unexpected repairs. 

Just Plumbing offers high-quality water softener systems. Contact us today to learn more about our water softener solutions.