If you’re currently a homeowner in Arizona or plan to be one in the near future, you may already know the benefits of having a water softener in your home. By removing minerals like calcium and magnesium from your tap water, you can avoid the troublesome effects of hard water on your hair, skin, faucets and appliances.
Though water softeners play an integral role in the treatment of your home’s tap water, they don’t last forever. Just like any appliance, regular maintenance and quality installation impact how long your water softener will last. This is especially true in Arizona, where extremely hard water can degrade water softening systems faster than elsewhere in the country.
How long does a water softener last, and how can you extend the lifespan of your home’s water softening system? Read on to learn more about water softener lifespans, and how you can keep your water softener in top working order.
Water Softener Lifespan
There are three main types of water softeners used in Arizona, and each works in its own way. With regular care and maintenance, each type can last up to 15 years.
Salt-based Ion Exchange Water Softener Lifespan
The most common type of water softener is the salt-based ion-exchange softener. It exchanges hard minerals like calcium and magnesium for sodium ions supplied by the salt in the brine tank. Water passes through resin beads to make the swap, and the result is water that doesn’t leave residue on hair, skin and appliances.
These water softeners usually use a single tank for resin and for the salt brine. It’s important to use purer salt, which will extend the life of your well-maintained softener. Standard water softeners like this can last 10 to 15 years.
On-demand Controlled Water Softener Lifespan
On-demand controlled water softeners are much like standard softeners but have an additional level of functionality that helps them operate more efficiently.
Unlike standard water softeners that flood the salt resin with brine water to clean the hardness minerals off on a timed schedule, on-demand controlled water softeners keep track of water usage and trigger regeneration after a predetermined amount of water has been used. That way, regeneration is always on time — not too soon or too late.
With sufficient maintenance and proper installation, on-demand controlled water softeners can also last 10 to 15 years.
Dual Tank Water Softener Lifespan
Dual tank water softeners are just what they sound like — a water softener that uses two tanks rather than just one. Dual tank water softeners operate much like other softeners do, but handle regeneration differently.
Dual tank systems also regenerate on demand, but when they regenerate one tank, the system switches over to the second tank. That way, there’s no waiting for a process to end before soft water is available again. It also uses soft water mixed with the salty brine for regeneration, which enhances efficiency and thoroughly cleans the systems. Dual-tank water softeners also last 10 to 15 years with regular maintenance.
What Impacts Water Softener Lifespan?
The lifespan of a water softener is impacted by several factors, note the least of which is where it is used and how often. Let’s look at some of the factors that can affect your water softener’s lifespan.
Data source: U.S. Geological Survey
The hardness of your tap water is a major factor in your water softener’s lifespan. Water hardness varies depending on where you are in the country and is usually measured as parts per million (PPM).
According to data from the U.S. Geological Survey, though hard and very hard waters are found in water sources throughout the country, the hardest water shows up in Texas, New Mexico, Kansas, Arizona and southern California. Homeowners living in any of these states might find their home water softeners don’t last as long as they do in other areas.
Water Use in the Home
How much water you use on a daily basis in your home will have a significant impact on your water softener’s lifespan. If your water use is higher than average, you know your water softener is working harder, and it needs more maintenance. This may also mean your softener requires replacement sooner.
Typical water use is 60 to 100 gallons per person per day, which means a family of four will use about 240 to 400 gallons a day on average. If you aren’t sure how much water you use in your home daily, you can estimate your water usage with this online calculator.
Water Softener Maintenance
How well and how often you service your water softener can play a big role in how long it lasts. As a general rule, you should check your water softener quarterly to spot any tell-tale signs of water softener malfunction and to determine if it’s time for a replacement.
In addition to regular check-ins of your softening system’s function, yearly professional inspection of your softener is key for extending its life. A service professional can make sure it’s clean and functioning well, optimize your settings, replace any parts that are worn out, and assess the quality of your water.
Quality of Installation
Similar to any appliance in your home, the quality of water softener installation will impact how well it performs and how long it lasts. When properly sized and installed, most water softeners can last years with minimal maintenance — but the opposite can occur if the installation is done poorly.
Though it’s possible to install a water softener yourself, a professional will know whether you need new pipes, can help remove and dispose of old systems and will have all the proper tools for quick and effective installation. Plus, if there’s any problem, they can return and fix any issues and save you money in the long run.
How to Prolong the Life of Your Water Softener
There are steps you can take to prolong the life of your water softener. You’ll spend less on repairs and ensure that the water in your home is continuously supplied with soft water by following these helpful tips and tricks.
Check Your System’s Functional Regularly
Your water softener will give you hints that it isn’t operating a peak efficiency. Here are a few things you should be on the lookout for.
- You see hard water spots: Properly softened water shouldn’t leave hard water spots on your shower door or your drinking glasses. If so, it’s time to get your softener checked to ensure it’s functioning properly.
- Your water doesn’t feel soft: If you feel dry and itchy after a shower, or if you can’t get suds to form in your kitchen sink, your water softener might be to blame. Make sure you have the correct amount of salt in your tank. If the level is correct, it may have stopped softening and will need to be serviced.
- You notice a change in water pressure: If your water pressure changes, there could be an obstruction in your tanks or lines. You should immediately call to have your water softener serviced.
Stick to a Regular Maintenance Schedule
You can avoid some typical water softener problems — and extend the unit’s lifespan — with regular maintenance. Here are some typical steps to take to keep your softener working properly.
- Check the salt level every 4-6 weeks: Don’t wait for issues to take a peek into the brine tank. Leave your salt half-filled or less so you can easily monitor it.
- Use the right kind of salt: Most modern units use cubes with purified salt, but check your manual to see what it recommends. Don’t have your manual anymore? Check ManualsOnline to see if it has your water softener manual.
- Inspect your equipment quarterly: Check for leaks and other problems. Be sure to look inside the brine tank for salt bridges, which should be broken up with something like a broom handle.
- Clean the brine tank: Check your owner’s manual to find out the best way to clean it out, which should happen every six months or so.
- Add a prefilter: Your water may have excess iron, chlorine, sediments or sludge that your water softener wasn’t meant to handle. Adding the right prefilter to your system will help handle these additional water issues.
Work With the Right Team for Installation and Maintenance
Your water softener company plays a crucial role in how well your water softener operates, and for how long. They can assist you with proper installation and selection of the right water softener for your home — but not all water softening companies are created equal.
In general, look for a company with a long track record of happy customers, and one that understands the unique demands of water softening in Arizona. If in doubt, look for reviews from other customers to determine if a company deserves your business.
Time to Repair or Time to Replace?
Is it time to repair or time to replace your water softener? Remember, with the super-hard water in Arizona, even the best and most well-maintained systems could fail before 15 or even 10 years.
If you aren’t sure if it’s time to replace or repair your water softener, Clear Water Concepts can help. Our team of experts has decades of experience installing and servicing water softening systems for Arizona homeowners. Contact us for help with water softener maintenance, repair and replacement.