The typical cost to repair a water softener is $150 to $892
Water softeners are water filtration systems that remove "hard" minerals from drinking water, like calcium and magnesium, to make it "softer.” It typically costs between $150 and $892 to repair a water softener, but the cost can reach as high as $2,000 or more. While hard water isn't dangerous, it can create issues like unsightly mineral build-up around your faucets, stiff and faded laundry, and dry and itchy skin after showering. If you notice any of these issues, then you might have a water softener problem.
Here, we cover everything you need to know about how much it costs to repair a water softener based on factors like type, component, and whether or not you should hire a pro to give your hard water a softer touch.
How Much Does It Cost to Repair a Water Softener?
The cost to repair a water softener starts at $150 but can climb as high as $2,000 or more depending on the water system's size and the complexity of the problem. For instance, if you have a small water softener system installed under the sink, it will generally cost less to repair than if the water softener is part of a whole-house water treatment system.
How Much Does It Cost to Repair a Water Softener by Type?
There are several types of water softeners, many of which are part of larger water treatment systems. The cost to repair them varies by the type you have.
Reverse Osmosis System
Reverse osmosis systems work by filtering water through a membrane to remove impurities. A plumber can typically repair a reverse osmosis system in one to three hours, and they usually charge $45 to $150 per hour. Therefore, you can expect to pay around $150 to $300, on average, for this repair.
Undersink filters are relatively inexpensive standalone filters installed under your sink. They're typically simple systems that filter water before sending it to a dedicated filtered water faucet, which is usually installed next to a standard faucet. It generally costs $150 to $300 to repair these filters, but since these systems typically cost $50 to $500 to replace, it often makes more sense financially to replace the whole system rather than repair it.
Whole-House Water System
If your water softener is part of a whole-house water system, then it can be more complicated (and expensive) to fix than if you have a basic undersink filter or reverse osmosis system. Because these systems are complex, the cost to repair them can fall anywhere between $50 to $800 depending on the specific problem. For instance, if there's a leak, then you'll likely pay around $150 to $300 to repair it, but if you only need to replace a hose or other small part, then you might only need to pay $5 to $50.
How Much Does It Cost to Repair a Water Softener by Component?
Several components make up water softeners. Often, repairing a water softener involves replacing one or more of these components.
Brine Tank Replacement
Many water softeners have brine tanks that contain a concentrated salt or potassium solution to help filter water for drinking. If you have a broken brine tank, you're looking at about $125 to $700 to replace it.
Some water softeners feature tanks filled with polystyrene resin beads that filter the water as it flows through them. The beads have a negative charge that attracts positively charged particles, like calcium and magnesium, thereby pulling them out of the water and softening it for drinking. Over time, these beads become oversaturated with the minerals they're filtering and need to be replaced. It typically costs around $200 to $400 to replace resin beads.
Multistage filters are composed of multiple filter materials, usually stacked in layers, that filter water in various stages. Generally, it costs about $25 to $500 to replace these filters.
Whole System Replacement
Water softeners and treatment systems typically have a lifespan of 10 to 15 years, so if you've had your system for 10 or more years and it's giving you trouble, then you might want to replace rather than repair it. The cost to replace the whole system typically ranges from $1,000 to $5,000.
How Much Does It Cost to Repair a Water Softener Yourself?
Repairing your water softener yourself can save you money since you'll avoid paying labor costs, which usually range from $45 to $150 per hour. The only costs you'll be responsible for are those associated with the tools and materials needed to fix the problem, such as a new hose, which you can often find for $5 to $50.
That said, water softener repairs can be complex, especially if your softener is connected to a whole-house water treatment system. Unless you have plumbing expertise or the fix is very simple, like a filter replacement, then you should probably hire a local plumber to fix your water softener. Otherwise, you run the risk of creating more costly problems, like flooding.
What Factors Influence the Cost to Repair a Water Softener?
Several key factors affect water softener repair costs.
Water Softener Type
There are several types of water softeners, and the type you have can greatly affect the cost to repair it. For example, standalone water softeners, like undersink filters, generally cost less to fix than water softeners that are part of a whole-house water treatment system since whole-house systems are usually quite complex and take more time to fix.
Water softeners are made up of several components depending on the type of water softener you have. The cost to repair or replace these components can vary quite a bit. For example, if you simply need to replace a hose, then it'll likely only cost you about $5 to $50, but if you need a brand new brine tank, then you're looking at $125 to $700 to replace it.
If you decide to hire a pro to repair your water softener, then you'll need to pay labor costs in addition to the costs of any materials needed to fix the problem. Plumbers generally charge $45 to $150 per hour, and it typically takes one to three hours to repair a water softener depending on the complexity of the problem.
FAQs About Water Softener Repair
Should I hire a professional or replace a water softener myself?
If your water softener repair is fairly straightforward, like a simple filter replacement, then you can probably do it yourself with little risk. However, anything beyond a simple fix should be addressed by someone with extensive plumbing expertise to avoid costly problems, like flooding.
That said, even simple problems can be complicated to diagnose, particularly if your water softener is attached to a whole-house treatment system. So, unless you feel absolutely certain that the problem is an easy fix that you can take on yourself, it's probably best to hire a plumber to diagnose and fix the problem.
Should I repair or replace my water softener?
If your water softener is on the fritz and it's 10 years old or more, then it probably makes more financial sense to replace the water softener rather than spend money to repair it only to find that you need to replace the whole system a year or two later.
How can I tell if my water softener isn't working?
There are a few common symptoms that indicate that something's wrong with your water softener. For instance, if you notice that your skin is dry or itchy after showering, then you might have a water softener problem. Additionally, hard water can result in excessively faded or stiff laundry, so if your loads of laundry start to look or feel off, then it's a good idea to check the water softener. Other common symptoms of broken water softeners include mineral build-up around faucets, discolored water, and water that tastes salty.