Ensuring your water softener is operating to the best of its ability for as long as possible could be the key to saying goodbye to hard water issues in your home. If your glasses are spotty even after going through the dishwasher, your skin and hair are dull and dry, or your appliances are breaking down sooner than they should, hard water is likely the culprit.

This is where water softeners come in, removing the minerals like calcium and magnesium that cause hard water and providing cleaner, soft water throughout your home.

Do Water Softeners Need Maintenance?

Like most appliances, water softeners require some regular maintenance. The good news is that it is relatively easy to maintain your softening system for optimal function and longevity.

How Do You Maintain a Water Softener?

The core task in maintaining your water softener is ensuring it always has the right amount of salt.

How Often Do You Need to Add Salt to a Water Softener?

For most water softeners, salt is a critical ingredient to the process of removing hard water minerals from your water. Your salt should be:

  • The correct type of salt. This will ultimately depend on your system, although many softeners use rock, pellet, solar or evaporated salts.
  • Free from issues like salt bridging or mushing. When there is too much salt in your brine tank, there are two issues that may occur. Bridging and mushing of salt are both issues in which deposits of salt solidify or congeal and reduce the effectiveness of your water softener.
  • Refilled depending on your schedule. Each water softener will require regular salt refills; the frequency will relate to the level of hardness in your water, your water usage, the type of system and the age of your system. Keeping up to date on your system’s salt level will keep blockages or shortages from harming your system and your water. Some softening systems offer salt-level monitoring or low-salt alerts to assist with this.

With the correct level and salt type, your water softener can help produce cleaner, soft water. Your supplier may be able to help.

How Many Times Should a Water Softener Regenerate? 

Regeneration is a cycle in a water softener that recharges the resin beads that remove calcium and magnesium from your home’s water. Water softeners typically have a second tank called a brine tank, which contains a salt-water solution. During regeneration, the salt-water brine solution flows through the resin tank, rinsing the calcium and magnesium from the beads and flushing the minerals from the system.


Many systems regenerate on a fixed time interval or based on how much water has flowed through the system. The best method is Culligan’s proprietary Aqua-Sensor® technology, which monitors the condition of the resin and only regenerates as needed, making the system more efficient.

If a water softening system is undersized, it will regenerate too often and waste water; if it is oversized, it will regenerate infrequently but require more salt when it does. A regeneration interval of every 4 to 7 days is most ideal.

How Often Should a Water Softener be Cleaned?

A water softener in daily use typically requires no special attention other than keeping the salt tank filled. Occasionally, however, your system may require sanitization under one of the following conditions:

  • When your system is first starting up
  • After standing idle for a week or more.
  • If you are on a private water supply
  • If you begin to experience off-tastes and odors in your water

Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Use only mild soap and warm water when cleaning the exterior of the conditioner. Never use harsh, abrasive cleaning compounds or those which contain acid, such as vinegar, bleach and similar products.
  • Do not place heavy objects on top of the salt storage tank or timer cover.
  • A periodic clean-out of the salt storage tank will help keep your system at peak operating efficiency. Do it at least every two years when the salt supply is low.

Your water softener supplier can help with any necessary regular maintenance of your softening system. Being proactive by maintaining salt levels, regeneration and cleaning will increase the overall lifespan of your system and its ability to provide you with cleaner, soft water.

How Do You Know If Your Water Softener is Working Properly?

If you continue to experience hard water issues, it is likely that your softening system needs some fine-tuning. These hard water difficulties may look like:

  • Reappearance of buildup around faucets and showerheads
  • Hard-to-clean soap scum on shower doors
  • Water spots on dishes
  • Less lather when using soaps

There are some easy methods to tell if your water softener is working, including the soap test, which is a home test where you see how well your soap lathers when mixed with water. Soap with soft water will create strong lather, while hard water won’t create the same amount of foam. While not precisely scientific, it can be the first step in determining if your water softener is working properly. To be absolutely sure, schedule a system inspection to test your water and your softener.



Lifespan and Replacement of Water Softeners

What is the lifespan of a water softener?

A water softener will likely produce soft water, if well maintained, for 10-15 years. Your softener can create softer and better water for you for a long time, as long as you set it up for success with regular maintenance, as you would any of your other appliances.

How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Water Softener?

The cost to replace your old water softener will depend on a variety of factors, including size, capacity, and system features. The good news is that water softeners save you money in the long run, helping to reduce costly appliance repairs and replacements; spending on household cleaners, detergents and shampoos; and even energy savings. When purchasing a new system, consider all aspects such as durability, available service, time- and energy-saving features, and more.

Whatever your water softener needs, Culligan Water is here to help. With regularly scheduled salt deliveries, smart systems, maintenance programs, and more, Culligan helps keep your water softener producing the soft water you depend on. Reach out today to get your water tested and get all of your water softening questions answered.