As tempting as the ads are from Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist.org for a FREE water softener, you don’t want to pick those up to use for your home. We’ll go over why this is a bad idea and do a cost analysis on reconditioning an old one versus buying a new softener.
There are probably a few reasons why water softener is free. The first one would be, the previous owner is upgrading to a new system. That means the old one is simply that, old. An older system will have unreliable mechanical timers and valves, it will be harder to service since the parts are most likely obsolete. The resin bed is presumably no longer effective in conditioning the water, the mesh baskets are probably broken and letting resin beads into the water system.
Besides, you’re not sure what kind of contaminants are stuck in the resin bed. That means if you were to hook it up to your home, the contaminants that have been sitting in the tank will start flowing into your plumbing. Furthermore, older systems’ tanks will start to degrade over time. From O-rings to the fiberglass outer shell, all those parts will eventually break down and potentially cause a flood in your home.
The Actual Price of a FREE Used Water Softener
Yes, the ad says FREE, but let’s dive into the real cost of owning a repurposed water softener. One of the things that would need to be addressed is the resin. Resin has an active life of about 10-15 years. People will either replace the resin or upgrade their entire system when they are not getting the same soft water as they once did. With that in mind, you’ll most likely need to replace what’s in the tank with new resin. To give you an idea of how much that is, depending on the size of your tank, it could take 1-2 cubic feet of resin to fill up.
1 cubic foot of resin media cost $120. But if you need 2 cubic feet, then the total cost would be $240. Replacing both upper and lower fine mesh baskets will cost roughly $30. A replacement brine tank, $130. Various O-Rings can be as much as $15, and replacement hoses $30.
$130 Brine Tank
$30 Fine Mesh Baskets
$445 Total cost of a FREE Water Softener
Keep in mind that the $445 doesn’t include the time and trouble that you’d have to go through to make this FREE Water Softener work. Realistically, a person would need to be mechanically inclined to pull this project off. The first thing that will need to be replaced is the old resin. This process can be cumbersome since there is no easy way to handle it. Depending on the size, it could be a two-person job to remove and fill the tank of resin. Plus installing all the other parts will be needed. If you are not mechanically inclined and require the help of a professional plumber, then add $300 to the total cost. Now your new total for this free softener will end up costing $745.
At a certain point, you need to ask yourself if going through all this trouble is even worth it. A new complete Harmony water softener from Aquasure starts at $499. This kit comes with everything you’ll need: a pre-filled resin tank, hoses, fittings, a modern electronic valve head, brine tank, mesh baskets, hoses, and a warranty that comes with free support.
Hopefully what has been explained above, has demonstrated to anyone who is considering picking up a used water softener for free, that it isn’t the best idea. Dealing with old and worn out parts, and ineffective resin tank and the high cost of reconditioning the system should be enough reason to stay away from them. A new Aquasure water softener system is the most cost-effective route to go.