How Long Should Water Softeners Be Expected to Last? 

If you own a water softener, you probably want to know how long it should last before it needs to be replaced. While it depends on many factors, like your location, how much you use it and the quality of your salt, generally a good softener should last about 15 years or more. 

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How Long Should a Water Softener Resin Last?

Water softeners work by removing minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, from tap water through an ion exchange process. This happens by passing hard water over resin beads that are charged with sodium ions (the same way as salt). 

The beads conduct the exchange and swap their calcium and magnesium ions for sodium ions, leaving soft water behind. Eventually, the beads can become saturated with these ions, which requires the system to regenerate. 

Some regeneration methods involve flushing the softener to clean out accumulated hard water and replenish the resin beads with sodium ions. Others simply replace the resin beads. 

Depending on the type of water softener you have, it can take anywhere from two to three days for your system to regenerate. This is a time-consuming process, but it’s necessary so your system can continue to soften your water and prevent scale buildup on your pipes and appliances. 

How Long Should I Add Salt to my Water Softener?

If you want to make your water softener last, you should only use a high-quality salt. The right kind of salt prevents clogs and inefficiency and helps the unit run as efficiently as possible. 

A water softener should be topped off with salt once every couple of months. That means you should be buying at least two 40-pound bags of salt per refilling period, which can run you less than $30 each. 

You should also check the brine tank for signs of corrosion. If you notice rust on the sides of your tank, it might be a sign of a problem with the brine pump or another element. 

In addition to adding salt and checking your water pressure, you should also test the flow rate of your softener to ensure it’s working properly. The ideal flow rate is between 7 and 12 gallons per minute, although the size of your system and your water usage will determine what kind of flow rate you need. 

Whether or not you have to use salt depends on the model and brand of your water softener. Some models, such as those from Aquasana, Pelican, SpringWell and iSpring, have an upflow design that only backwashes once every five regeneration cycles, saving a lot of water. 

If you do have to add salt, it’s important to measure your water hardness and adjust your softener settings accordingly. Using a setting that’s too high will cause the system to overwork and wear out more quickly. 

Aside from that, you should always make sure the bypass valve is in place and functioning correctly. This valve regulates how much household water goes through the media tank and is a vital component of any water softener. If it clogs, breaks or is set incorrectly, you’ll end up with hard water that will leave mineral deposits on your pipes and appliances.