Used to reduce the amount of minerals and scale that are present in household water, water softeners are helpful in extending the life of pipes, appliances and clothing. Resin is an important part of any water softener tank. Most resins do not need to be replaced frequently, but the frequency of the softener's regeneration cycle affects the life of the resin.
Is Replacement Needed?
Perform the water hardness test if your family begins to notice that soaps are not lathering effectively, or if hard water buildup becomes apparent on faucets and in the shower. Hardness test strips are inexpensive and can be purchased at appliance and plumbing stores. Water resins typically last 20 to 25 years, but mechanical failure or excessive mineral buildup in the water supply can shorten the lifespan of the resin considerably. Contact a professional if your water softener is still under a warranty or service agreement.
Troubleshooting the Problem
Water softening salts can affect the quality of the household water, and an incorrect type can cause water to pass through the unit without depositing mineral buildup. Change the type of salt used to fill the tank if possible. Clean the brine tank by scraping residue off and rinsing it with clear water. Check the pipe that runs between it and the mineral tank for any blockages of salt or minerals. Ensure that the regeneration schedule is matching the use of water. Change the regeneration schedule if water use has increased or if your family is using more water than originally estimated. Change the water softener resin if water quality is not improved by these troubleshooting techniques.
Replacing the Resin
Determine the type of resin used in your machine by checking the owner's manual. The majority of home water softeners use hi-cap (high capacity) resin. Some units, particularly those in use with well water, use fine-mesh resin for trapping groundwater metals. Replacement of fine-mesh resin is necessary more frequently, as iron often gets trapped within the resin and depletes its ability to soften water. Replacing the resin can be difficult in an older system, but it can be done by removing the outlet tube and controls from the tank. Check your owner's manual for instructions for the procedure, and call a professional if the task seems too difficult or if your unit is still under a service agreement. Resin generally costs around $80-$120, and service may cost around $200 to $300.