How Long Does Water Softener Resin Last?

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Water softener resin is an essential part of a salt-based softener.

Resin lasts much longer than water softener salt. But it still needs replacing once it reaches the end of its lifespan.

This guide answers the question, “How long does water softener resin last?”

πŸ“Œ Key Takeaways:

  • Resin lasts 10-20 years on average.
  • Factors affecting the lifespan of softening resin beads include the quality and crosslink percentage of the resin, your water quality, and your water usage.
  • You can extend the lifespan of water softener resin by buying 10% crosslink resin, installing a pre-filter, using resin cleaners, and reducing your daily water use.

πŸ“† How Long Does Water Softening Resin Last?

The resin beads in a water softener last about 10-20 years. The exact lifespan of the resin is affected by factors including resin quality and water quality.

Your user manual should note the lifespan of the resin. You can usually buy new resin directly from the manufacturer or from a third-party seller.

It’s important to replace your resin bed on time to ensure consistent soft water production in your home.

Water softener ion exchange resin

πŸ“Š Factors Affecting Water Softener Resin Lifespan

There are several factors affecting how long a water softener resin bed lasts:

Resin Quality & Crosslink Percentage

The quality of water softener resin affects its lifespan – and quality is largely determined by the resin’s crosslink percentage.

There are two common crosslink percentages for resin in water softeners: 8% and 10% crosslink.

On average, 8% crosslink resin lasts 8-10 years.

10% crosslink resin has a longer lifespan of 15-20 years.

πŸ‘¨β€πŸ”§ Why does 10% crosslink resin last so much longer than 8%? It’s because 10% crosslink resin has stronger bonds between the resin beads, meaning it’s less susceptible to damage by water contaminants like iron, sediment, and chlorine.

The less susceptible it is to damage, the longer the resin should last.

Standard versus fine mesh resin

Your Water Quality

The quality of your water is another factor affecting resin lifespan.

Iron, sediment, and chlorine can all damage the contents of a water softener resin tank.

Let’s say you have city water that contains a lot of chlorine. Over time, the chlorine chemicals will attack the resin’s crosslinking, stripping it away.

But if you use a non-chlorinated well water supply or you filter chlorine out of your water before it reaches the softener, the resin won’t be damaged by this chemical, so it should last longer.

The same goes for iron. Water softeners are only designed to remove about 1 PPM of iron, and high dissolved iron levels (often found in well water) will plug up the resin and reduce its softening capacity.

Excess sediment has similar clogging effects in the resin. The good news is that most water softeners include a sediment pre-filter to reduce sediment damage.

Getting water sample from faucet

Your Water Usage

Finally, your water usage – and the amount of soft water you require per day – affects how long a resin bed will last.

The more water you need per day, the more water will be softened in the resin tank. The more frequently the resin bed is used, and the more often the resin is backwashed with brine water, the faster it’ll become worn and tired.

On the other end, if your water usage is lower than average, you might get longer out of your water softener’s resin bed because it’s used less frequently.

πŸ”‚ Why Does Water Softener Resin Need To Be Replaced?

Once the resin beads in a water softener reach the end of their lifespan, their ability to hold onto sodium ions and hardness minerals will be depleted.

That means the resin might lose its sodium ions before the water softener is due to regenerate. As a result, the hard water that flows through the resin tank won’t be softened because the resin won’t release any sodium during the ion exchange process.

Old water softener resin beads might also release caught hardness minerals back into the water, which may make your water even harder than it was initially.

Replacing the resin as advised by the manufacturer should prevent these issues in your water softener.

Related: Where to buy water softener resin?

Removing old resin from a water softener tank

πŸ€” How To Know When Your Water Softener Resin Needs Replacing

You’ll know that you need a new resin in your water softener if you notice the following signs:

  • Decreased hard water production – If your water gradually starts to taste and feel like hard water again (rather than the soft water you’re used to), it could be a sign that your water softening resin bed needs replacing.
  • Fluctuating water quality – You might also notice that your water fluctuates between hard and soft, suggesting that the resin beads have lost their capacity to soften water throughout the duration between regenerations.

It’s not always obvious when a new resin is needed in water softeners. The best thing to do is follow your manufacturer’s instructions for resin replacements. If the manufacturer says to replace the resin after 10 years, don’t leave it any longer.

You can also read more in our guide on how to tell if water softener resin is bad.

πŸ“ˆ How To Extend Water Softener Resin Lifespan

Here are a few ways to extend your water softener resin life:

Buy 10% Crosslink Resin

Not yet bought a water softener, or looking to replace old resin beads? Buy 10% crosslink resin.

10% crosslink resin is more resistant to damage from iron deposits and chlorine, so it’ll last about 15-20 years. Compare this to 8% resin, which has a 10 year lifespan on average.

πŸ“Œ Avoid 6% crosslink resin – the really cheap stuff that only lasts 5-8 years – at all costs. The resin will get damaged quickly and will struggle to hold onto positively charged ions.

Buying the right high quality resin will mean you can hold onto the same resin for longer.

Use Resin Cleaners

Another way to extend the lifespan of all the resin in your water softener is to use a resin cleaner once or twice a year.

You can buy cleaners designed specifically for water softeners, such as Iron Out, which clean out deposits of iron, sediment, and other impurities that could affect the ion exchange process.

Reduce Your Daily Water Usage

If you use excessive amounts of water per day and you think you can cut down, do it. Not only will you reduce your monthly water spend, but you’ll help extend the lifespan of the resin bed.

You can save water by small actions, like switching off the faucet while you brush your teeth, not washing your dishes in running water, and only using water-based appliances when necessary.

The less water you use, the less frequently the resin will be used for softening, and the longer it should last.

Buy A Pre-Filter

Finally, if you’re concerned that the lifespan of your resin bed will be affected by contaminants like iron or chlorine, buy a suitable pre-filter for the system.

Most water softener systems already come with a sediment pre-filter. Change this every 4-6 months, or as advised by the manufacturer, to ensure long-lasting protection against sediment.

For high iron levels, buy an iron removal whole home filter. For high chlorine levels, install a carbon filter in your plumbing system. You can buy these filters online or from your local water treatment company.

Just make sure to buy the right-sized system to prevent a dip in your internal water pressure.

Springwell iron filter and water softener

πŸ“‘ Final Word: Water Softener Resin Lifespan

The resin beads in the average water softener resin tank should last at least 10-15 years. Read your user manual or check with your manufacturer if you’re unsure.

There are only so many things you can do to extend the lifespan of your water softener resin.

Once a resin reaches the end of its lifespan, it should be replaced to keep the water softener working properly. As well as buying new resin bed, you’ll probably need to buy a new resin funnel and riser tube. How much new resin you need depends on the size of your resin tank.

Be sure to go for a high-quality resin and consider installing a pre-filter, such as a carbon filter or an iron filter, to protect the new resin from chlorine and iron deposits going forward.

  • Laura Shallcross
    Senior Editor

    Laura is a passionate residential water treatment journalist who holds an undergraduate degree in Print Journalism and a master’s degree in Creative Writing. Over a span of 5 years she's written on a range of topics including water softening, well water treatment, and purification processes.

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