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How Long Do Water Softeners Last? – Water Softener’s Lifespan

Fact checked by Stephen Conklin

how long do water softeners last

Is it time to replace your water softener? Looking for this question’s answer is straightforward if you know how long do water softeners last. Your knowledge of a water softener’s service lifespan can help you make adequate preparations for its replacement or extend its use for a few more years.

Few devices, equipment, and machinery last a lifetime. Mechanical, physical, chemical, biological, and natural forces can impact a machine’s integrity and function over time – water softeners included.

Let us find out how long your water softener will last.

Table of Contents

How Long Should Your Water Softener Last?


Twelve years is the average life of a water softener. You can extend this to 15 years with a methodical maintenance regimen and regular cleaning.

There is also substantial lifespan variability across brands and models. For example, a conventional timer-controlled water softener can last up to 15 years with proper care. However, some brands can do more by extending their products’ service life to 20 years.

We also get the same observation in flow-controlled single-tank water softeners and dual tank units. They typically last about 10 to 15 years, while more advanced models can work until the second decade.

You can always check the assigned life expectancy of a water softener by reading your owner’s manual. If you do not have the document, you can always perform an internet search using your water softener’s brand, model, and series number.

What Factors Impact a Water Softener’s Service Lifespan?


You might be wondering why water softeners have different service lifespans. Water softener lifespan variability is due to several factors, including the following.

Water Hardness Level

According to the US Geological Survey, Southern California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Kansas have exceptionally high water hardness levels. The water hardness levels in these states can go as high as 250 mg/L or more than 15 grains per gallon.

The more hardness minerals present in your water, the harder your water softener works. It also requires more frequent regeneration that can undermine its functional integrity. You can check out some of these high-quality water softeners to maximize their lifespan, including the top-rated smart water softeners, twin tank water softeners reviews and the trusted portable water softeners.

Usage Frequency and Volume

Using more water than necessary can also shorten your water softener’s lifespan, particularly if you have high water hardness levels.

The US Environmental Protection Agency says that US homes have an average daily water consumption of 82 gallons. The usage rate can be higher if families use inefficient water appliances and fixtures.


Sediment and mineral deposits can build up in the water softener tank over time. They reduce water softening efficiency. That is why experts recommend periodic cleaning of the water softener at least once every four months.

Failure to do so can harden the deposits and make the water softener’s operation more challenging. It can also reduce the device’s service lifespan.

Installation Quality

Many families embrace the DIY spirit to save money from expert installation costs. They also find the installation straightforward, particularly if the family has sufficient plumbing knowledge.

However, wrong or poor installation can lead to issues in the long run. Not using the correct fittings or not observing the recommended installation process can undermine the water softener’s functionality.

What Signs Tell You It is Time to Replace the Water Softener?

Now you know how long you can expect your water softener to last and what factors can impact its life expectancy. The question you might have now is, when should a water softener be replaced?

Water softeners can last up to a decade or two. However, it is often wise to increase the frequency of regular assessments in the fifth year. Your water softener may already show subtle signs of deterioration. Here are some things you can look for to check if your water softener is nearing the end of its life.

Reduced Lathering

Bathing is more pleasant when there’s a rich, bubbly, and soapy lather on your skin. You feel cleaner and more comfortable after the shower. You also do not use that much shampoo and soap to get the lathering you require.

If you see any changes in suds, your water softener might already be giving up on you. Soap and shampoo molecules adhere to the hardness minerals, reducing the formation of suds or lather.

Crusty Buildup

Check your water pipes and fixtures, particularly at the joints. You might see grayish to whitish specks on the surface. These imperfections can turn crusty or chalky over time. They are also excellent indicators of a failing water softener.

Water Taste Changes

One of the first things you will notice is a change in your drinking water’s taste. It has that slight metallic taste and none of the smoothness we all associate with soft water.

Laundry Issues

Besides using unusually more detergent for washing clothes, you might also notice a scratchy and stiff fabric. It is okay to add fabric conditioner to your laundry water. However, it would be best to check your water softener.

How Can You Extend a Water Softener’s Service Lifespan?

You can observe the following tips if you want to extend the water softener life expectancy.

  • Install a sediment pre-filter before the water softener to remove large particles that can damage the water softener’s ion-exchange resin. If you want a more comprehensive system, I recommend a reverse osmosis or KDF filter.
  • Perform deep cleaning of the water softener at least twice a year to remove mineral deposits and other particles in the resin bed.
  • Install a drip feeder system to introduce a cleaning agent into your water softener for every regeneration.
  • Use only high-quality regeneration salts. These products may cost you more, but they can also ensure water softener longevity.
  • Do not wait for the brine tank to reach a third of its capacity before replenishing the salt supply. It will also help to refill the brine tank up to three-quarters only.
  • Adjust the water softener’s settings according to your needs.


Knowing how long do water softeners last helps you observe preventive measures to extend its lifespan or initiate preparations for its replacement.

In general, water softeners keep working for about a decade. However, meticulous care and maintenance can see you enjoying your water softener for up to 20 years.

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