Buying a Used Water Softener: A Risky Proposition

Two signs, one pointing to new and the other pointing to usedIf you’re considering a used water softener, it’s likely because you’re looking to save money. Buying an appliance used is always cheaper, and softeners are no exception. Because systems often last 10-15 years, you can find a used one that still has plenty of service life in it. And of course, it’s not necessarily about getting the cheapest softener possible. Another way to look at it is that you can get a better system for the same money.

But there are risks, too. As with any used appliance, you can’t really be sure of what you’re getting. Here are some of the potential disadvantages of buying a previously owned softener.

1. You Don’t Know How Used it Is

As with a used car, the amount of use a softener has gotten is as important as its actual age. Unfortunately, there’s no odometer on a water softener. You don’t necessarily know how hard the previous owner’s water was, how much water they used on a daily basis, or what settings they used to soften it. Some people like their water very soft, or they simply never mess with water softener settings that are too high, leading to a lot of extra wear over a short period of time. In cases like these, a system that’s five years old could actually be approaching the end of its service life.

2. You Don’t Get a Warranty

Having a warranty is one of the major benefits of buying new. With a used water softener, you usually have to forgo a warranty and the peace of mind it offers. Combined with the fact that you don’t know exactly what shape the softener is in (see point #1), this can be worrisome if you don’t know how to make repairs yourself.

3. You May Have Trouble Finding Parts

If the softener is an older model, you may have trouble finding parts that work with it. Fortunately, conventional salt based softeners are relatively simple appliances that haven’t changed dramatically in decades, so this isn’t a major concern.

4. It May Not be as Efficient

A lot of newer models have efficiency features that aren’t available in older softeners. Over time, these features can save you money in electricity, water, and salt usage. Will this make up the difference between buying new and used? In most cases, no. However, it’s something to keep in mind as you weigh the cost and benefits of each option.

Should You Buy Used?

In the end, it’s up to you to decide whether the savings from buying a used softener outweigh the risks. If buying used saves you a lot of money and you’re knowledgeable enough to install and maintain the system yourself, then it makes a lot of sense. Otherwise, you might want to think twice before taking a chance with a used water softener system.

Keep in mind that even an expensive new system will save you money in the long run if you have really hard water. If you can’t afford a new system, consider renting a water softener or getting low interest financing. The last thing you should do is let hard water continue to cause problems in your home.