Photo of a home water softener systemWater Softener Resin Replacement

  • WATER SOFTENER RESIN REPLACE - CONTENTS: How to replace the resin media in a water softener treatment tank. Water softener media life, contaminants, cleaning, & replacement sources: where to buy water softener resin media & other parts needed to replace the media in a water conditioner.
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about replacing the media or resin in a water softener or water condtiioner
InspectAPedia tolerates no conflicts of interest. We have no relationship with advertisers, products, or services discussed at this website.

Water softener resin replacement instructions: this article describes procedures replacing the resin media in a water conditioner or water softener.

Green links show where you are. © Copyright 2017, All Rights Reserved.

Water Softener Treatment Tank Resin Replacement Procedure

ProTec Water Softener, Surprise Arizona (C) Daniel FriedmanReader Question: how to replace the resin media inside of a water softener

8/31/14 Ron Fix It Man said:

My softener is 13 years old and I have read the resin becomes ineffective in about that life time. Iron out has been used with little benefit. Effectiveness of the softener has declined unless greater amounts of salt per cycle are used.

Troubleshooting reveals no improper cycle operation. Is it true the resin has a limited life? Can it be restored, say with a wash of dilute muriatic acid? If not, where can it be purchased?

This question appeared originally at DIAGNOSE WATER SOFTENER PROBLEMS

Reply: procedure to replace water softener treatment tank resin media


Indeed it is possible to replace the resin in a water softener.

Water softener resin can last for 20 years or even longer, but may have a shorter life depending on the chemistry of the water being processed in the water softener. Some of the sources we reviewed give the view that chlorinated municipal water can cause water softener resin beads to deteriorate while others focused on iron contamination or even algae growth that could not be flushed from the resin tank. Another common water softener resin tank contaminant is sand or debris entering the softener from sediment-containing well water.

Water softener resin that has been fouled by iron or by organic growth such as algae can often be cleaned by treating the resin tank with a resin cleaner (Iron-out, ResUp, Bleach treatments - WELL CHLORINATION & DISINFECTION ) sold by your manufacturer or by separate water softener rehab suppliers (some are listed below in this article).

See SOFTENER CLEANING & SANITIZING for advice about cleaning the water softener if you want to try this before replacing its resin.

I would contact the manufacturer of the brand of water softener you already own to obtain an installation an maintenance manual if you don't already have one. That should show how to open the tank, replace the resin media (typical cost for the resin is around $100 U.S. from third party suppliers but I'd prefer to use what the manufacturer provides).

At the same time you might find that there are controls that need repair or rebuilding such as replacing O-rings, check valves, or other controls. It makes sense to do these repairs at the same time.

Watch out: Before replacing the resin in the water softener I'd want to be sure that the unit is otherwise operating properly. A very simple check would be to inspect for SNAFUs such as those we discuss in this article series (such as improper brine tank operation, sticking brine tank float, or other causes of not-softening). If on the other hand you don't see a proper water volume entering and leaving the brine tank then the problem is probably there, not with the resin.

Then run the water softener through a regen cycle, observe that water does enter the brine tank, that salty water does backwash through the water softener and out through its drain. Confirm that your softener is using the proper salt dose by measuring incoming water hardness.

Then measure the hardness of treated water after a water softener regeneration cycle. If the unit is indeed not softening the water then media replacement may be in order. You'll need between .6 cu. ft. and about 2 cu. ft. depending on the volume or size of your water softener treatment tank.

Replace the Water Softener Tank Resin: step by step procedure

Autotrol 400 control sketch

  1. Put the building water supply on bypass to assure that water will remain available while the water softener is offline.

    Watch out: I would not begin the disassembly of a water softener tank for resin replacement without first being sure I could leave the building with a working water supply - by installing bypass controls on water piping at the softener location if necessary

    Watch out: I would also want to have on hand any replacement parts I'm likely to need such as the softner tank bottom water distributor and riser tube, O-rings, gaskets and seals. Having those parts ready not only speeds the softener resin replacement job itself, avoiding delays waiting for parts, it also reduces the risk that you think the job is done only to find that your re-charged water softener is leaking now that it has been re-assembled.

  2. Disconnect the water softener from any electrical power supply
  3. Remove the controls and softener head: the control valve or head needs to be removed from the water softener treatment tank.
  4. Flush out / vacuum out the old water softener resin. Smaller water softener tanks may be tipped over and flushed out, or you may need to use a wet-dry shop vac to remove the resin from the tank.

    Watch out: Check the level of resin in the water softener tank before you remove the old resin. You'll probably see that it fills the softener tank to about 1/3 from the tank top - a detail you'll use in calculating the amount of replacement water softener resin required.

    Notice that some water softeners may include a sanitary gravel bed on the tank bottom that also needs to be cleaned or replaced.
  5. Clean and disinfect the softener's water treatment tank. See our bleach dilution and disinfection advice at DISINFECTING BUILDINGS with BLEACH or for more detail and more extensive disinfection methods, at WELL CHLORINATION & DISINFECTION
  6. Replace the water softener internal water distributor and riser tube (that's why I said to first check with your softener manufacturer for parts supply and to have these on hand)
  7. Pour the new resin into the softener treatment tank up to the same level that you found resin before emptying the tank, or as your manufacturer directs for your softener model and size. You can measure the tank size to estimate the necessary volume.

    Vcyl = pi x r2 x h

    where pi = 3.1416,
    r = the radius of the circle formed by the cylinder (inside of the softener treatment tank), and is simply 1/2 of the tank's inside diameter
    h = the height of the cylinder of space inside the softener

    Watch out! be sure to write the radius and height in the same units of measure - we use inches.

    Taller water softener tanks (over 40") are filled to about 60% while shorter water softener tanks may be filled to about 80% of their internal volume capacity.

  8. Reassemble the water conditioner treatment tank, including the new O-rings and seals that fit your tank as we suggested earlier.
  9. Run the water softener through an extra regeneration cycle
  10. Test and compare the water hardness levels before and after the water has passed through the water softener.
  11. Check / set the water conditioner control settings: check that you have set the proper regeneration cycle frequency and salt dose for the hardness of your water and the typical daily water volume used. See SOFTENER ADJUSTMENT & CONTROLS
  12. Restore the water softener to operation
  13. Check for leaks

Sources of water softener tank resin to replace original material

Typical water softener resin is sold in bead-form, as a conventional gel polystyrene sulfonate cation exchange resin that is ready for use in household or industrial water conditioning equipment such as a water softener or water conditioner. The resin should meet the specifications of your water softener manufacturer, and/or the U. S. Food and Drugs Code of the Federal Regulations section 21 paragraph 173.25.

Diagnose & Fix Water Softener Problems: this article series describes procedures for diagnosing and repairing water softener or water conditioner problems including water conditioner control settings and adjustment or repair, brine tank and brine tank float cleaning and repair, and the proper amount of water softening or conditioning that is needed.


Continue reading at SOFTENER ADJUSTMENT & CONTROLS or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.



Or see WATER SOFTENER RESIN LOSS - causes and cures

Suggested citation for this web page

SOFTENER RESIN REPLACEMENT at - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.


Or use the SEARCH BOX found below to Ask a Question or Search InspectApedia


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Click to Show or Hide FAQs

Ask a Question or Search InspectApedia

Use the "Click to Show or Hide FAQs" link just above to see recently-posted questions, comments, replies, try the search box just below, or if you prefer, post a question or comment in the Comments box below and we will respond promptly.

Search the InspectApedia website

Comment Box is loading comments...

Technical Reviewers & References

Click to Show or Hide Citations & References

Publisher's Google+ Page by Daniel Friedman