Water Softener Maintenance: 7 Tips On How To Prolong Your Softener’s Life

Water Softener Maintenance 7 Tips On How To Prolong Your Softener’s Life

Anthony Barnes

Need to Hire a Plumber?
Get a free estimate online from top local home service pros in your area.
Note: This post may contain affiliate links. This means that at no cost to you, we may receive a small commission for made purchases.

When it comes to water softeners, maintenance is one of the biggest concerns people have.

In fact, this maintenance can play a big part with people debating whether it is worth having one installed or not. 

Unfortunately, no matter which water softener we go for, they will require regular checks and the occasional bit of maintenance.

Luckily, these checks and maintenance are usually pretty minimal. They are also very affordable.

In fact, in places like Arizona and Phoenix where hard water can dramatically impact your water heating and plumbing, this cost is very insignificant. 

If you’re debating whether to get a softener system installed, hopefully, this post will help.

Here we will give you 7 tips that will help you maintain and prolong your softener’s life. 

Stay tuned if you want to learn more!

1. Regularly Check Your Salt

Water Softener Maintenance: 7 Tips On How To Prolong Your Softener’s Life

Generally speaking, you will only need to refill the water softener’s (see also our guide to replacing a water softener) brine tank once every two months or so.

It is this brine tank where the salt ends up. While this may be the case, it can still be very beneficial to check the salt more frequently. 

To check the salt, open the lid to the brine tank every so often. When the lid is open take a look at the salt. It should be covered in water and wet. 

If you check the salt, and it’s dry and water levels are running low, it is definitely time to refill the tank with salt. 

This maintenance check is super easy to check but can play a key part in prolonging the life of your softener.

If your water softener (see also ‘How Often Should A Water Softener Regenerate?‘) is 10 years old or older, this regular check-up becomes even more important.

If you’re lucky and nothing goes wrong with your water softener (see also ‘Installing A Water Softener: Your Ultimate Guide‘), this could be the only maintenance you ever need to perform.

However, there are other tips to discuss that will make your system last much longer.

2. Use A High-Quality Salt

We all love to save money, but when it comes to maintaining your water softener system sometimes we have to be willing to pay more. 

When refilling the brine tank on your water softener (see also ‘ How To Add Salt To A Water Softener ‘), you will have a much better chance of prolonging its life if you use a high-quality salt.

While this may sound frustrating, there’s nothing to worry about as the salt used in your water softener is relatively cheap.

It is possible to use almost any salt to fill your brine tank, but some are better than others.

For the best results, we recommend using evaporated salt pellets. The reason for this is that these pellets are the purest you can find. 

When it comes to salts you shouldn’t use, we highly recommend staying away from block salt.

The only time you should ever use block salt is when the manufacturer has specifically stated that this is the type of salt you should use.

3. Have Good Knowledge Of How To Clean Your Water Softener’s Brine Tank

To be honest, you should probably make sure you have good knowledge regarding the maintenance of a water softener system before you get one installed.

Having great knowledge of how to clean and maintain a water softener before then putting that knowledge to good use is a great preventative measure you can take.

This will most definitely prolong your water softener’s (see also ‘What Is The Best Water Softener Salt’) life. 

If you don’t already know how to clean your softener’s brine tank, you really need to learn how to, as regular cleaning will keep your softener functioning successfully for longer. 

The best and probably the easiest way to clean your brine tank is to first wait until the tank is almost completely out of salt.

You should then scoop out any leftover salts. If the softener is dirty and in need of cleaning, the salt’s appearance will be quite sludgy.

If there is sludge at the bottom of the tank, use a broom handle or large stick to lightly prod it. This should pry it free. 

When the tank is free, you can start to clean it with a detergent, a brush, and some water.

You can also use mold remover if any mold has built up at the base of the tank.

Once this is done, you can rinse the tank, refill it with salt, and leave it overnight. Simple right?

4. Learn How To Clean The Resin Tank

Learning how to clean your softener’s resin tank isn’t a must, but it can come in handy.

While you won’t be cleaning your resin tanks every two months as you will with the brine tank, knowing how to clean the resin tank when necessary will again help you prolong the softener’s life.

The water softener resin tank contains beads. The regeneration process does remove the build-up of beads, but over time will become less effective. This usually happens when the beads reach 7 years old. 

Cleaning the resin tank and replacing any beads can be difficult.

The process involves using an iron-cleaning mixture to restore and cleanse the beads.

As this is quite difficult and only needs checking every seven years or so, a simpler option would be to employ a professional.

For anything from $100 to $300, a professional will replace the beads for you. 

5. Be Aware Of Troubling Signs

One of the best ways to maintain your water softener is by being able to spot problems in advance.

This is a valuable skill that could potentially prolong the life of your softener by a significant number of years.

Obviously, checking the brine tank frequently is an excellent way to identify any issues and the cause of any problems, but if you know what you’re looking for you don’t even need to open the softener to spot any trouble. 

One very simple way to spot a problem with your water softener can be easily spotted when washing your hands.

Hard water interacts strangely with soap, stopping it from lathering properly.

If this happens, you could have a problem with your softener. This is a simple way to keep an eye on your softener on a daily basis.

Other things to look out for include: a drastic change in how the water tastes, scale build-up in your sinks, bathtub, and pipes, stiff laundry, and infrequent regeneration. 

6. Keep An Eye For Any Salt Bridges

Water Softener Maintenance: 7 Tips On How To Prolong Your Softener’s Life

It isn’t uncommon for salt bridges to form in your softeners tank.

These can potentially affect the lifespan of your water softener system, so it is important to keep an eye out for them. 

A salt bridge is essentially a layer of crust that starts to build up. This build-up starts to separate the salt and water in the tank.

It is this separation that impacts the system negatively, preventing it from running properly.

This problem can easily be avoided if you follow step 1 and regularly check the salt in your brine tank.

This issue can also be avoided by following tip 2 on this list. Using high-quality salt will massively reduce the chances of this occurring.

If you check your brine tank and happen to see a salt bridge forming, don’t worry, it can very easily be removed.

Simply take a broom and poke the salt bridge. It won’t take long for it to give way. 

7. Don’t Be Afraid To Use The Professionals

Water softener systems need regular maintenance, but for most of your water softener life, you shouldn’t encounter any problems that will require the help of a professional.

However, if you do, there’s nothing wrong with calling for help.

While we like to save money and fix issues ourselves when possible, sometimes it’s better to ask a professional for advice.

A professional knows exactly what to do, and although they will cost you, you are guaranteed a successful job.

By trying to fix professional problems on your own, you could quite easily create other issues for yourself that reduce the life of your softener. 

If a problem persists after you’ve taken a look, and you aren’t sure what to do next, call a professional. 

You might need a professional after you’ve tried the following things, and they didn’t work.

  • Checked the salt levels
  • Given the softener time to regenerate 
  • Cleared any salt bridges
  • Replaced and rinsed the resin beads.

The professional can then come in to save you the hassle of finding your way around your water softener’s electrical components.

This is particularly useful if you don’t have a good understanding of what you are doing.

Final Thoughts

That concludes our post looking at ways you can prolong and maintain the life and functionality of your water softener (see also ‘Leaking Water Softener? Reasons And Solutions‘) system.

Before you read this post, you may have thought that carrying out maintenance on your softener would take way too long and cost a fortune.

Hopefully, now you can see how simple, affordable checks can easily prolong the life of your softener by a couple of years.

Now you have a better understanding of how to look after your water softener, why not use these 7 tips to make your own maintenance schedule.

By doing so, you can easily prolong the life of your softener and ensure it always functions the way it should.

Need to Hire a Plumber?
Get a free estimate online from top local home service pros in your area.

Recent posts

Need help with a repair or install?

Free Online Quote

By Anthony Barnes

Anthony Barnes is the founder of Water Heater Hub and a second-generation plumber by profession. Before developing Water Heater Hub, Anthony Barnes was a full-time plumber, and he has undertaken a wide variety of projects over the decades. As a second-generation plumber, it was easy for Anthony to get used to the technicalities of all from a tender age