So you’ve done the right thing and installed a water softener. Your hard water problems have all but disappeared. No more spotty silverware or filmy dishes. Neither insoluble soap or funky lime-crusted showerheads. No more clogged drains and broken down pipes. Yup, you’ve traded in your old calcium for new sodium, and your water has been soft and luxurious ever since. But how many years has it been since you last checked on your water softener? It’s all too easy to neglect this critical home appliance. On average, water softeners last between 10-20 years. So if you have had yours for over a decade, it might be time for a repair or a replacement.
While there is no definitive time for exactly when to replace your softener, there are telltale signs that indicate its wear and tear. Electricity breaks down, components fall apart. Valves get jammed, salt goes missing in the brine tank. In homes where the water softener is highly used due to extremely hard water or iron-rich well water, softeners can malfunction even faster. Sometimes these signs don’t mean you need a replacement, you might simply need a repair. You can easily get your water softener inspected by your local plumber to determine what specific issues may need to be serviced.
Signs You Need to Replace or Repair your water Softener
Soap Won’t Lather
One of the greatest benefits of water softener is its ability to create soluble soap. When your soap is not lathering, it indicates hard water chock-full of contaminants like calcium, magnesium, iron, bicarbonates and sulfates. These contaminants interact with the soap, making it harder to break down. So if you are in the shower and you can’t work up a good sudsy scrub, it may be time to get your water softener serviced.
Itchy Dry Skin and Dull Hair
Speaking of lather, if you leave the shower feeling itchy instead refreshed, the problem may also be hard water. Insoluble soap will leave a film on your skin that clogs your pores and absorbs moisture — causing you to itch. Additionally, hard water will leave your hair dull and dry. Installing a new water softener may be the answer to get that shine back in your bob, or that softness back in your skin.
Water Just Tastes Different
Most people can taste the difference between soft and hard water. People love the smooth taste of quality water that’s gone through water treatment. During that treatment, your hard water exchanges its calcium and magnesium contaminants for sodium and potassium ions. A difference in taste (especially water straight from the tap) is a strong indication of the possible resurgence of those contaminants.
Water Is Too Salty
Additionally, if your water tastes overly salty, this may indicate the presence of too much salt in your softening system. You may simply need to clean your tank or add the appropriate amount of salt. If thoroughly cleaning your tank does not solve the problem, it may be a damaged valve. In that case, call a professional plumber.
Laundry Is Stiff of Stained
If you’re noticing mineral stains on your freshly cleaned clothes, there may be a malfunction. Hard water leaves its mark due to its inability to lather washing machine soap. Minerals also seep into the washing machine, making it harder to do its job. Not only that, hard water leaves your clothes feeling stiff and scratchy. If you’re going through tons of fabric softener with no results, it might be time to get that water re-softened.
Pipe and Faucet Buildup
This is a major telltale sign. If your shower head looks like you bought it at an antique store, you find white crusty stains on your faucets, or your pipes are breaking down — it might be a hard water problem. Clogging pipes is also a red flag. If you notice low water pressure, this may be due to a deposit buildup obstructing your pipes. Call a plumber immediately. One of the best things about softened water is it increases the lifespan and durability of your water-based appliances. You don’t want to shell out tons of money to repair a busted pipe that could have been easily solved with a new water softener.
Stained Toilets, Sinks, and Bathtubs
If discolored water is making a comeback in your home and leaving stains on your sinks, toilet and bathtub, it’s probably time to change your softener as well. While discolored water is not necessarily harmful to your body, it sure isn’t pretty! Those brownish water stains were probably the reason you got the original water softener in the first place. So, let’s not do a re-run.
Spotty Silverware and Scummy Dishes
Finally, utensils, plates, pots, pans and tea kettles are excellent indicators of the hardness or softness of the water in your home. Since they are washed often, you’ll notice if a spotty, filmy or gritty texture is left behind on your silverware. That scummy coat comes from un-latherable soap, and/or contaminates in the water that adhere to surfaces. Hard water strikes again.
Installing a new water softener not only gives you spotless silverware, cleaner clothes, and more durable pipes, it gives you shinier hair and softer skin too! Replacing your water softener allows you to keep up with the new advances in water treatment technology. Nowadays, some water softeners are equipped with Water Efficient Technology (W.E.T), which refreshes your system’s proportionality to help you save on salt and conserve water. There are also salt monitors that alert you when you need to add more softener salts. Another feature is chlorine generators which help you maintain a clean system. Furthermore, innovations in ionization, filtration and even water softener WiFi will keep you on the cutting edge. So, after 15 years with your old water softener, it just might be time for something new, right? Call Plymouth Plumbers today to see if you need your water softener serviced or replaced. Here’s to soft quality water!