15-20 Minute Assessment

Water Softener

Salt-based water softeners protect pipes, appliances, and fixtures by removing the minerals that make water “hard.” Soft water is gentler on skin, hair, and laundry too.

The salt in the brine tank needs to be replenished regularly. Check it at least once a month. The resins can last for a decade.

Consult your manual for the maintenance schedule, salt, and cleaning products that work best for your unit.

This appliance is actually part of your plumbing system. You might rely on your plumber, not your HVAC pro, for annual service and troubleshooting.



Repair and replacement costs

Typical Costs

  • Inspect: $100 – $250
  • Repair: $150 – $600
  • Replace: $700 – $2,000

Life span


10 – 20 years

Steps to Assess Your Water Softener


Step 1: Look for leaks around valves, hoses, drain lines, and tanks. Check metal tanks for rust spots that could turn into holes.


Step 2: Open the brine tank and check the salt level. Most tanks should be between 1/2 and 2/3 full of salt, with the salt at least 3 inches above the water level.


Step 3: Check the brine tank for a hidden “salt bridge” — a crust that keeps the softener from doing its job. With a broom handle, carefully push down through the loose salt. If you hit a hard crust, consult your manual for ways to break it up.


Step 4: Open and close the bypass, intake, and outtake valves a few times to be sure they’ll work if you need them.


Step 5: Clean the “venturi valve” between the two tanks. It tends to clog. It’s easy to remove. For safety, follow your manual’s instructions exactly.