So you’ve been enjoying the benefits of a water softener in your home for some time. Using soft water can extend the lifespan of your appliances, protect plumbing fixtures and pipes, reduce energy usage, improve the texture of your hair and skin, and produce clean, bright clothing.
How can a water softener help do all that? Through a process called ion exchange, which is a reversible chemical exchange between dissolved calcium and magnesium ions from your water and replacing them with similarly charged sodium ions.
For the layperson, this means a water softener removes minerals, like calcium and magnesium that cause hard water and buildup, which affect everything from the feeling of your skin to the efficiency of your appliances.
However, after a number of years, you may notice your water isn’t as soft as it used to be. Or perhaps your unit is requiring more salt to operate. This could mean it’s time for maintenance or even replacement of your water softener.
Is It Time to Replace my Water Softener or Do I Need Maintenance?
If you are having issues with your water softener, it’s time to examine whether it should be replaced or serviced. Symptoms of needing to change the salt in your softener are similar to those of when a softener needs replacing. Typical signs to watch for include a changing taste of your water or noticeable scale buildup on your faucets. Immediate signs of hard water that reveal trouble with your water softener include:
- Soap not lathering
- Clothes feeling rough or appear dingy after laundry
- Spots or streaks on dishes or glassware
- Dull, lifeless hair or dry, itchy skin
- Soap scum on the shower, tub, and other surfaces
However, before you replace your water softening unit, try some common maintenance tips, including salt regeneration, which requires you to add softener salt to the resin within your water softener. Routine recharging or regenerating will help ensure the system is working efficiently.
Other issues that can be fixed that may be causing your water softener to not work include:
- Brine tank needs cleaning
- Salt bridges have formed
- Water softener resin needs replacement
Tips to Extend the Life of Your Water Softener
A water softener should last 10 to 15 years. If your unit is facing more wear and tear, it could be due to improper maintenance or particularly hard water.
If you’d like to extend the lifespan of your water softener, one option is to add a pre-filter. If your water has sediment, iron, sand, clay or other substances — commonly found in well water or tap water in certain areas throughout the country — your water softener could become clogged or damaged. A prefilter removes these contaminants from your water supply before it reaches your water softener and remains effective for six to nine months before needing a replacement.
When Should I Replace My Water Softener
A water softener has a lifespan, just like any other appliance. With regular care and maintenance, including cleaning the device’s brine tank once a year, a water softening system can last up to 15 years.
If you begin having issues with the unit or your home’s water, the next step is to ensure you are using the correct type of salt, the unit’s hardness settings are accurate, and your brine tank is clean. You may want to look to some other hints that can indicate it’s time for a water softener replacement including:
- Sand-like particles in your water
- The softener does not regenerate or is constantly regenerating
- Changes in water pressure
- The unit continually runs
Other Reasons to Update Your Softener
It may be circumstances, not symptoms that point to the need to bring your water softening system up-to-date. Because a water softener must meet the needs of you and your home, it’s size is determined on your household water consumption and the degree of water hardness. If your family size changes you may want to consider changing your unit out to ensure you aren’t wasting money.
Maybe the unit is working correctly but is nearing, or past, its lifespan. A new water softener may be necessary. Updates in technology and greater efficiency can provide you with the latest state-of-the-art system that requires less water to operate.
For areas with particularly hard water, like Arizona, more efficient water softeners are crucial. Water hardness is determined by the source. If minerals are present in the soil around a water supply well, the water may dissolve the minerals and carry them to the groundwater supply. Water hardness is measured by looking at the amount of calcium carbonate in the water, based on milligrams per liter or Grains per Gallon.
Source: Water Quality Association
Apart from innovation and increased performance, newer water softening options are designed around environmental protection. If utilizing eco-friendly products in your home is essential to you and your family, an updated water softener can meet those needs.
Find Expert Solutions
While no area in the U.S. is void of hard water, there is a notable difference between other states and the Southwest, including New Mexico, Kansas, and Arizona which have the nation’s highest levels of greater than 1,000 mg/L, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Installing a water softener in these areas is commonplace and often imperative. In addition to improving your home’s water quality, upgrading your water softener can increase home values in the Southwestern region.
Whether it be for routine maintenance or to help you decide your home’s water needs, look to water softening system specialists. A professional will know best if you need to replace or update your water softener.
Our team of water treatment specialists here at Clear Water Concepts is dedicated to providing you straightforward, reliable solutions to your water problems. We have over 20 years of experience in water softener installations and maintenance in the greater Phoenix area. Contact us today for a consultation and full water evaluation.