Ashburn, VA

How Much Does Water Softener Repair, Service, or Maintenance Cost?

$150 – $600 Average Cost To Repair
$100 – $250 Annual Service & Maintenance Plan

Water softener repair costs $150 to $600 on average. A water softener service call and inspection costs $40 to $100, not including repair parts. An all-inclusive maintenance contract costs $100 to $250 per year and covers repairs, cleaning, salt refills, water testing, and annual inspections.

Get free estimates from water softener services near you or view our cost guide below.

Water Softener Repair Cost

Water softener repair costs $150 to $600 on average, depending on the size and complexity of the system. Small systems installed under the sink are more cost-effective to fix than larger whole-house units. Most problems are an empty brine tank, a jammed valve, or parts that need cleaning.

Water Softener Repair Cost - Chart

Water Softener Repair Cost
National Average Cost $430
Minimum Cost $40
Maximum Cost $1,500
Average Range $150 to $600
  • A professional inspection costs $40 to $100, not including parts, and is recommended every year or two.
  • Water softeners typically last 10 to 15 years. When fixing old units or for costly repairs over $600, consider installing a new system to save in the long run.
  • If you are renting a water softener, repairs are typically carried out by the service provider, and all costs are covered.
  • A water softener costs $10 to $20 per month to run on average, including salt refills and maintenance over time.

Water Softener Maintenance & Service Cost

A water softener service call and inspection costs $40 to $100, not including repair parts. An all-inclusive maintenance contract costs $100 to $250 per year on average and may cover repairs, cleaning, salt refills, water testing, and an annual inspection.

Water Softener Maintenance & Service Cost
Service Average Cost
Inspection $40 – $80
Resin Replacement $200 – $400
Tank Replacement $150 – $500
Filter Replacemet $30 – $200
Remove System $50 – $100
Full System Replacement $700 – $3,000
All-inclusive Service Contract $100 – $250 per year
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Water Softener Resin Replacement Cost

Water softener resin replacement costs $200 to $400 on average. If yellow resin fragments are getting into the home, the bottom distributor also needs to be replaced. Cleaning a dirty resin bed with bleach is effective at neutralizing resin-fouling bacteria and sanitizing the system.

Water Softener Tank Prices

Water softener replacement tank costs $150 to $500 on average, without installation. Prices depend on the size of the tank and type of system.

Ion Exchange Water Softener Filled With Sodium Salt

Water Softener Filter Replacement

A replacement sediment filter for a water softener costs $30 to $200 on average, depending on the size and quality. Water softener filters should be changed every 3 to 6 months. If the water pressure decreases throughout the home, the filter needs replacing.

Cost To Remove Water Softener

The average cost to remove a water softener is $50 to $100, which includes debris disposal. When purchasing a new softener with installation service in a bundle, free removal of the old unit is typically covered.

Water Softener Replacement Cost

A water softener replacement costs $700 to $3,000 on average, depending on the size, type, brand, and installation labor. Labor costs to replace a water softener are typically cheaper since the plumbing and piping are already in place.

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Water Softener Problems

How To Tell If Water Softener Is Not Working

Signs and failure symptoms your water softener is not working is hard water, itchy and dry skin after showering or washing your hands, stiffer and faded laundry, and mineral build-up around faucets. Sometimes the system is simply worn out and needs replacing.

Water Softener Problems
Problem Causes Troubleshooting
Water tastes salty
  • Excess salt in system
  • Clogged drain preventing system flushing
  • Clean the softener and refill salt
  • Check for clogged or jammed control valves
  • Adjust salt settings
System is not regenerating or functioning
  • Check if the system is on and check system settings
  • Check brine tank for too much water or not enough water
  • Remove any clogs and blockages
  • Schedule a professional inspection to replace parts
Works but water is hard
  • Brine tank needs salt
  • Bypass switch may be off
  • Brine-tank line clog
  • Fill the tank up to at least half full with salt
  • Check bypass valve
  • Start manual regeneration and retest for hardness
No water or not enough water in brine tank
  • Broken or jammed float switch
  • Brine tank line or valve clog
  • Clean all components in the brine well
  • Flush brine line and valves
  • Replace float switch
Brine tank full of water or not draining
  • Entry valve is broken, or float valve set too high
  • Clogged brine line, drain tubing, injectors, or valve
  • House water pressure too low
  • Timer malfunctioning
  • Salt mushing
  • Replace missing valve O-ring
  • Adjust float valve or replace
  • Replace water entry valve
  • Unclog and remove any blockages
  • Check timer settings
Leaking
  • Cracked tank
  • Loose water connection
  • Worn rotor valve seals
  • Fix or replace parts
Low water pressure
  • Clogged resin bed
  • Resin beads have clogged fixtures
  • Iron build-up clogging the mineral tank
  • System is too small
  • Broken control valve
  • Add mineral cleaner to resin tank or regenerate more often
  • Install a larger system
  • Flush resin beads in pipes
  • Plumbing system needs a professional inspection
Softener is not using salt
  • Salt bridge crust is clogging the brine tank connection
  • Break the crust with a broomstick and let it dissolve. Then start manual regeneration.
Discolored or brown water
  • Rust, bacteria, or sediment in the water
  • Dirt in unpurified salt
  • Fouled resin bed
  • Clean the brine tank and refill with new salt
  • Call a plumber to inspect pipes for damages
System is running constantly
  • Break and unclog the salt bridge
  • Adjust water pressure
  • Clean all components inside brine well
  • Replace or adjust circuit switch
Softener is making loud noises
  • Valve or pipe blockages
  • Air valve damage
  • Broken timer
  • May not be any issues
  • Call technician for an inspection
Resin beads in water and pipes
  • Cracked basket, broken screen, or failed seal
  • Excess chlorine eats away the plastic
  • Resin beads are worn out
  • Flush the entire water system, including water outlets and appliances
  • Replace any broken parts and replace resin beads

*For most issues, it’s best to call a professional to inspect the system.

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Water Softener Troubleshooting Guide

To begin troubleshooting any problems with a water softener:

  1. Check to make sure the system is turned on, and the control panel display is not blank.
  2. Check the manual and apply the correct settings for salt and water usage for regeneration, and regen time and cycle length.
  3. Check for enough salt in the brine tank, and look for a salt bridge
  4. Make sure the bypass valve is not in bypass position. Check if the valve is registering water flow.
  5. Start a manual regeneration cycle and retest water hardness levels afterward.

Water Softener Components

Not Regenerating

Water softeners that are not regenerating or not cycling fail for the following reasons:

  • Broken or misconfigured timer – Set the regeneration cycle to daily and check if the system regenerates at the scheduled time. If the machine doesn't recharge, replace the broken timer. Otherwise, check the operation manual and configured the clock and timer correctly.
  • Clogs and build-ups – A blocked drain hose prevents brine draw during recharge. Check if the brine injector or venturi is plugged in and allow water to flush through.
  • Salt bridging or salt mushing
  • Not enough water or too much water in brine tank
  • Dirty or worn out resin bed
  • Motor failure – In rare cases, the motor fails and needs to be replaced.

Full of Water / Not Draining

A water softener that's full of standing water means the entry valve is broken, float valve is set too high, or the water is not draining correctly. Otherwise, the water pressure in the home may be too low, the drain tubing or injectors are clogged, the timer is malfunctioning, or salt mushing.

  • The float valve controls the level of water in the compartment. Make sure the valve is straight and moves freely, and adjust lower is needed.
  • If the water entry valve is broken or disconnected, water may not stop flowing into the salt tank, causing it to flood.
  • Make sure the water pressure in the home is set to the softener’s requirements.
  • Clean the drain tubing, control valve, and brine injector.

Too much water reduces brine salinity, which prevents the softener from recharging and operating properly. Drain the tank by hand and clean it afterward. The brine tank should fill up no higher than 10″ to 12″.

Keeps Running Constantly

A water softener that keeps running constantly may be stuck in regeneration mode or won't stop cycling if the system cannot draw brine from the tank.

  • Typically caused by a salt bridge or clogged line in the drain, valve, or injector.
  • Low water pressure in the house can also cause the system to stick in regeneration mode.
  • A broken circuit switch or the wrong settings that control the regeneration cycle could be causing it to run continuously.

No Water / Not Enough Water

A healthy functioning brine tank doesn't fill up to the top with water. However, if no water flows into the brine tank, the softener may stop producing soft water completely. Clean all the components in the brine well and possibly replace a broken float switch. Then, make sure the brine line and valves are unclogged.

Discolored or Brown Water

Discolored or brown water in the tank after regeneration is typically caused by iron and manganese building up and fouling the resin. Brown water can also be caused by rusty eroding pipes or sediment build-up in the brine tank. Tannins from well water may cause yellow and brown colored water.

Clean and sterilize the brine tank and avoid using unpurified salt that may contain dirt.

Leaking

Cracked tanks, loose water line connections, or worn rotor valve seals can cause water softener leaks. If the unit is new, the leaking was caused by improper installation. To fix, inspect and replace any components that are cracked, leaking, or damaged.

Not Using Salt / Salt Bridge

If the water softener is not using any salt or the salt level is not going down, a salt bridge crust has formed at the bottom of the tank. Salt bridges prevent salt from dissolving in the water to form brine. Without brine regenerating the resin beads, the water will not be softened.

Water Softener Salt Bridge

To check for a salt bridge, push a broom handle down to the bottom of the salt tank. If the handle hits hard crust before reaching the bottom, a salt bridge has formed. Break up the salt bridge with the broom handle and start a manual regeneration cycle.

Replacing the salt too frequently or problems with the valve motor, rotor valve, venturi, or timer can also keep the water softener from using salt.

Salt Mushing

Salt mushing in a water softener occurs when salt congeals into a thick layer of sludge at the bottom of the brine tank. Mushing blocks the water intake valve causing the brine tank to overflow with each regeneration cycle. A salt mush reduces the salinity of the brine, causing hard water.

Mush is typically from the incorrect type of salt being used. To fix mushing, empty all loose salt by using a broom handle to break up the mush, clear the valve, clean the brine tank, and replace it with a higher purity of salt.

Water Tastes Salty / Using A Lot of Salt

If water softener water tastes salty or leaves a white residue, the softener uses too much salt when regenerating. Check the salt settings to prevent salty water. Otherwise:

  • A pinched or clogged drain hose prevents brine water from being flushed from the resin tank during regeneration. Either clean or replace the hose.
  • A damaged rotor valve or leaking seals may need replacing if it won't direct water properly and causes salty output.

Causing Low Water Pressure

A water softener causes low water pressure for one or more of the following reasons:

  • Resin Bed – The resin bed is either damaged, contaminated, or clogged, causing a loss in pressure. Exposure to chlorine causes the resin beads to turn to a mushy gel and prevent water from passing through the media.
  • Resin Clogs – Resin beads damaged by chlorine, sediment, algae, and bacteria can flow into pipes, clog faucets and showers, thus lowering pressure.
  • Iron and Sediment – High levels of iron and sediment can clog the resin media and tank, blocking water from flowing. Scaling of sediment build-up from hard water accumulates inside of plumbing pipes, which restricts water flow and pressure. A sediment pre-filter may also be clogged.
  • Incorrect System Sizing – A system with too small of a softening capacity or flow rate reduces the water pressure and bleeds hard water. The only solution is purchasing an appropriate size softener.
  • Control Valve – In rare cases, a broken or clogged control valve causes a loss of pressure and needs to be cleaned or replaced.

Making Loud Noises

Water softeners make light noises at night during regeneration. A water softener that makes loud hissing noises is a sign of clogged valves or water lines, broken air valves, or a worn-out timer.

Dirty or Clogged Resin Bed

A dirty or clogged resin bed leads to low water pressure, discoloration, and reduced water softening capacity. Sediment in the water such as iron, sulfur, manganese, or bacteria, builds up in the resin bed over time as brown slugs that causes clogging, fouling, and discoloration.

Fouling reduces softening capacity, gives the water a rotten egg smell, and makes the water taste bad. Cleaning the brine tank and resin bed with moderate levels of bleach is effective at neutralizing resin-fouling bacteria and sanitizing the system.

Another cause is that the resin bed is worn out. The solution is rebedding or replacing the resin tank.

Resin Beads In Water

A broken screen, failed seal, or cracked basket or upper distributor allows yellow resin beads to leak into the pipes and water supply. These problems occur when excess chlorine in the water eats away the plastic, or when the resin beads are worn out.

Unplug the water softener or open the softener bypass valve. Flush the entire water system, including water heaters, faucets, showers, toilets, washing machines, and dishwashers. Replace any broken part(s), then add resin beads to the filter or replace the resin beads.

Water Softener Resin Beds In Water Pipes and Plumbing

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How To Maintain A Water Softener

Water Softener System Maintenance
Maintenance Frequency
Refill Salt At least once a month
Clean Brine Tank 1 – 5 years
Change Resin 5 – 10 years

How Often To Add Water Softener Salt

The average water softener uses 40 to 60 lbs. monthly and needs to be refilled once a month. Check the brine tank at least once a month and make sure the level of salt is three to four inches above the water level.

How Often To Clean The Water Softener’s Brine Tank

A water softener’s brine tank should be cleaned every 1 to 5 years, depending on if the feed water is from the city or a well. Using a high purity salt and cleaning the salt tank yearly ensures the system keeps working at peak efficiency.

When To Change Resin in Water Softener

The resin in a water softener needs to be changed every 10 years or more on city water and 5 to 10 years on well water with a high level of iron, manganese, and organic bacteria. Resin beads remove all the hard water minerals to make soft water.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How Many Amps and Watts Does A Water Softener Use?

A water softener uses 70 kilowatts (kWh) of electricity per year and draws about .5 amps. A softener uses the same amount of energy as an alarm clock and costs less than $10 a year to power.

How Long Do Water Softeners Last?

Water softeners last between 10 and 15 years, or longer if well-maintained. A softener's lifespan depends on daily water use, water hardness rating, maintenance frequency, and quality of the system.

Still have questions? Ask a water softener pro. View Pros

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Hiring A Water Softener Repair Service

Do Plumbers Repair Water Softeners?

Licensed plumbers and water treatment companies repair water softeners. Always hire a licensed professional to repair a water softener to satisfy warranty requirements and avoid faulty repairs.

Tips For Hiring

  • Get at least three estimates to compare.
  • Ask for recommendations from family, friends, and neighbors.
  • Read reviews and check out their previous work on HomeGuide, Google, and the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
  • Select companies that are insured, bonded, and have been in business for longer than five years.
  • Avoid making large payments upfront. Never pay in full or in cash, and come up with a payment schedule for work completed.

Questions To Ask

  • How much experience do you have repairing water softeners?
  • Do you include parts and local taxes in the estimate?
  • Are you licensed, insured, and bonded?
  • How do you charge for unforeseen plumbing problems?
  • Can you provide any references?
  • How long will the job take?
  • How do you handle damages that happen on the job?
  • What does your warranty policy include?
  • What’s your payment schedule?

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