A water softener is a fantastic piece of equipment that every house should invest in if they suffer from hard water. Water softeners help to remove as many of the hard water-causing minerals as possible, including calcium and magnesium ions. It is these ions that cause limescale to build up, affect the quality of your skin and hair, as well as reducing the performance of your soap and washing facilities. If you buy a decent water softener then they can last for a long time, pushing 10 to 15 years if well maintained. We\u2019ve put together the top advice on what signs to look out for that means you need to repair or replace your water softener. Take the time to maintain your water softeners Just because you\u2019ve spotted signs of your water softener not working effectively, it doesn\u2019t mean it is necessarily time to replace it. If you maintain it correctly or perform some servicing then you can prolong the performance and lifespan of your water softener. Here are some of the signs that your water softener needs to be repaired or replaced: Limescale build-up Those hardness-causing minerals, such as calcium and magnesium ions will naturally build up around the pipes and faucets in your home. This is known as scale or limescale and is that crusty build-up you will have noticed many times before. Should you notice this happening around the faucets, then it is likely to also be happening with your pipes and it means your water softener isn\u2019t doing a good enough job. That may be because it is running low on salt, suffering from salt bridges, or perhaps at the end of its lifespan and is no longer effective. Laundry problems When you wash clothes or materials in hard water, it can cause them to lose their softness, color, and quality. Have you ever picked up a top and found it to be stiffer or more scratchy over time? This is caused by hard water. You can always add fabric softener to your laundry and it will help to a degree, but the most effective solution is to ensure your water softener is working correctly. Furthermore, hard water can reduce the lifespan of a washing machine or dishwasher. If your softener has plenty of salt, has been maintained and you still find clothes or machines are problematic, then it is a sign of when to replace a water softener. Water quality issues Any busy family will tell you it can often be hard to persuade kids to drink enough water and this becomes even harder when it tastes bad. Softer water will generally taste smoother and if it has also gone through a filter then it will taste a lot nicer than untreated water. If you start to feel like the water in your home tastes different, or your skin and hair feel different after a shower then it is likely that your water softener needs to be repaired or replaced. A lack of lather You may well have wondered why it is harder to create a lather with your soap in the shower, or perhaps washing your hands doesn\u2019t feel as soft. In the majority of cases, this is because that you\u2019re suffering from hard water that your water softener isn\u2019t resolving. If you find you\u2019re going through more soap or shampoo than normal, or you feel it doesn\u2019t lather as well as before then take a moment to look at your softener. It may be a simple job like topping up the salt, or perhaps a full service. If this doesn\u2019t resolve it, then it is a sign that the time has come to replace a water softener. Salt bridges An annoying issue that happens to almost every water softener as a result of using sodium chloride or potassium chloride. Salt bridges occur when the salt clumps together with air pockets in between so that the brine tank looks more full than it really is. This issue is easily resolved by breaking up those clumps of salt and topping up the water softener to the required level. Make sure you regularly check the tank and it will improve the performance of your water softener for a long time ahead. If it still doesn\u2019t work or salt bridges occur more frequently, it may be a sign that you should replace your water softener. When is it time to replace your water softener? We always advise trying to repair or service your water softener but there will come a time when this is no longer possible and you need to replace the water softener. You have regularly maintained it, topped up the salt to the required level at all times, and checked for salt bridges. If you\u2019re still getting any of the following issues then it is likely that you will need to replace your water softener: \tYou discover a change in water pressure and there is no other reason for this \tThere are sand-like particles in the water supply \tThe water softener is running continually and does not regenerate, or constantly regenerates. Aside from these issues above, you may find you need to replace the water softener because your household habits have changed. If your family grows and requires more water than the softener is designed for, then it won\u2019t cope, and you may wish to upgrade to a new water softener. Likewise, it may be that the water supply in your area suffers from a drop in quality and becomes harder. What type of water softener do I need? There is a wide range of water softeners out there on the market and the right type for your household very much depends on your individual requirements. We have created reviews and guides on the different types of water filters and water softeners out there but to give you an idea of the factors that determine the type of softener, they include: \tWater usage in your household \tLevel of water hardness in your area \tWhether you want a water softener for a single faucet or a whole-house solution \tYour budget \tAny existing systems installed Do it yourself or get an expert? It may seem quite complicated to install a water softener yourself, particularly if you have relatively no experience with plumbing or DIY. However, the vast majority are quite simple to install particularly if you\u2019re buying one for a single faucet such as under the sink in the kitchen. Likewise, if you\u2019re attaching one to a shower faucet then this doesn\u2019t require expert assistance. However, some of the larger or more complex systems such as a whole-house water softener may well require an expert to help you. If ever in doubt, find a plumbing professional and make sure your water softening system is set up correctly and working properly. Summary We hope this article has helped shine a light on when to replace a water softener. The most important piece of advice we wanted to get across to the reader is that you don\u2019t necessarily need to replace it. You may simply need to repair or service your water softener to get it back to performing at the required level so that you have soft water. If you do this and it still doesn\u2019t deliver the results you need, there are some fantastic, cost-effective solutions out there.