What Is the Cost of Renting a Water Softener?

Reviewed by: James Layton
Updated on:
February 7, 2024

Key Takeaways

Before you decide to rent a water softener, you should know everything you can about the benefits and drawbacks to renting over buying.

How Much Does It Cost to Rent a Water Softener?

Average water softener rental costs range from $25 to $50 per month, depending on the quality of the softener, the manufacturer, the level of competition in your region, and if you are responsible for maintenance and repair costs.

You should also budget an additional $150 to $1,000 for labor and any additional water softener installation costs, depending on the complexity of the water softening system you choose and the policies of your particular rental company.

Most water softeners have a minimum lifespan of 10 years. If you rent a water softener at a rate of $30 per month for this duration, you will pay a total of $3,600.

Depending on your rental agreements, you may also be required to pay extra for repairs and upkeep. If maintenance is not included in your rental fee, you will likely need to pay an additional $200 to $500, depending on the estimates you obtain from local plumbers.

However, I rent a water softener in California, and I have never been charged a maintenance fee, and I don’t think I paid for installation either. I rent an under-sink reverse osmosis system as well as a water softener for $45 per month — total.

However, if you’re in a position to buy and you think you might be in your home for a long time, buying might be the better choice. Considering that water softeners cost between $500 and $7,500, renting a unit for three or more years might cost much more than purchasing it, depending on the models in question.

Just remember, the longer you rent, the more you will spend in the long run.

Before signing on the dotted line, make sure you review the rental agreement. And it might be a good idea to peruse a local social media group to see if anyone has experience with the company and its products.

Learning as much as you can will protect you from being caught off guard by unexpected and costly surprises.

If you’ve done the math and decided to just buy one, see our list of the eight best water softeners.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Renting a Water Softener

For some people, renting a water softener is the best way to eliminate hard water. However, this approach is not for everyone. Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of renting a water softener:

Advantages

Low commitment

If you plan to move in a year or two, or if you’re a little tight on cash after purchasing your home, a new water softener may seem like an unimaginable expense.

A water softener rental, on the other hand, does not require a long-term commitment or investment. If you plan to buy a water softener eventually, renting first is a great way to sample the technology and the model before you buy.

You don’t have to worry about unforeseen servicing or maintenance costs because you don’t own the equipment. You don’t even have to replace the salt yourself.

When you rent a water softener, the rental company usually delivers a new tank every month. Convenient, right? Also, if you aren’t satisfied with your water softener’s performance, you can simply return it and get another one. There’s no commitment.

Low maintenance and repair costs

A water softener requires maintenance, which costs both time and money. The same is true for repairs. Both are typically handled by the rental company, which owns the device and therefore handles everything for you. 

Furthermore, in many cases, if you have not damaged the device or otherwise breached your rental agreement, maintenance costs are covered up to 100%. Basically, if your rented water softener isn’t functioning properly, all you have to do is contact the rental company for repairs and maintenance.

Access to high-quality water softeners

Choosing a local water softener vendor also ensures you won’t have to sacrifice quality for a low price. Rental companies may get special deals from manufacturers, allowing them to rent better water softening systems to their consumers. 

Consider the following while replacing an existing water softener system: The best water softeners can lower your current salt and water consumption by half. By renting instead of buying, you can experiment with your options, even try a salt-free water conditioner, and learn more about water softeners in general before eventually buying. 

If you choose a local provider rather than a large home improvement store, you may receive a higher-quality softener — even if you’re renting. Why? Because their entire industry revolves around water! Local water experts exclusively deal with water softeners, drinking water filters, and other water treatment equipment.

Locally owned businesses are the best option for renting a water softener. Local specialists are more knowledgeable about which system is best for you because they specialize in water issues in your region. Also, they can usually give you the best deals on price and quality when it comes to your water softener.

Better water

If you have hard water but can’t afford a water softener, you don’t have to just live with hard water.

Hard water is bad for your skin, hair, and clothes. It deposits scale in your plumbing system and bathroom fixtures, which is unappealing and difficult to eliminate. It can also damage water-using appliances, such as washing machines and dishwashers, which is something to consider, especially if you own your own appliances.

If you have soft water in your home, you won’t have to worry about that annoying mineral buildup in your plumbing system. Your skin is less likely to dry up and your eczema flare up if you use soft water. You’ll notice softer clothes and cleaner dishes since it helps soap rinse away more thoroughly.

Renting over buying can eliminate the damaging and frustrating effects of hard water without a massive up-front financial investment from you.

Disadvantages

High costs in the long run

While renting a water softener may seem like a cost-effective solution in the short term, the long-term costs are substantially higher.

Suppose you rent your water softener for $50 a month, while it originally cost $1,000. After only three years of renting, you’d already have paid $1,800. You would have spent $3,000 after five years, and $6,000 after ten.

A well-maintained water softener of good quality can last between 10 and 20 years. If you rent a water softener for 10 years, you will spend nearly six times as much as if you had bought one.

Limited model options

While there are many, many water softener models available for purchase, including salt-based water softeners and salt-free water conditioners, you may find fewer options when renting.

While renting, you are typically restricted to whichever type of water softener the rental provider offers. You may not have the same freedom to select the best model for your needs.

Pre-owned systems

You must also keep in mind that water softener rentals are typically pre-owned appliances. If the system is working properly, this may not be an issue. When you buy your own water softener, however, you can rest assured that it will be installed brand new, with fewer potential complications and a warranty.

Factors to Consider

To weigh the advantages and disadvantages, there are a few factors you should consider.

Do you live in a rented home?

Many people who live in apartments or other types of rented property prefer to rent a water softening system rather than purchase one.

If you rent and you want to install a water softener, be sure to check with your landlord to make sure it’s allowed. If you’re in an apartment building where everyone is connected to the same water, installation may be difficult or impossible.

Still, renting a water softener is a convenient solution for renters who get permission to install one.

If you don’t own the home you live in, having your own water softener installed and perhaps having to move it down the line may not make sense. This is especially true if your next home will be larger than your current one.

Luckily, you should be able to easily cancel your service if and when you move. If the company in question makes it difficult to cancel service, find a different company.

However, renters may benefit from purchasing a water softener in several instances.

If you don’t expect your household size or water demands to change in the future, you can buy a water softener and disconnect and reinstall it if and when you move.

Of course, if you do decide to buy a water softener for a rented home, you’ll still need to discuss your plans with your landlord and get their approval before water softener installation.

How long do you plan to stay in your current home?

If you own your house but plan to move out soon, renting a water softener may appear to be the best alternative. Since a rented water softener requires little to no commitment, you can simply discontinue the service when you move.

However, if you consider the worth of your current property, improving it with a decent water softener may make it more enticing to potential buyers.

If you intend to stay at your current home for the foreseeable future, investing in a water softener will not only provide you with safe and clean water, but will also protect your home and family from hard water without throwing money away on a rental.

Water softener rental cost vs purchase price

Water softener prices start at $500 for the most basic (and probably ineffective) model and rise depending on the size and features of the unit. If you have a small apartment with mildly hard water and you don’t use a lot of water, a low-cost water softener may be appropriate for you.

You may need a more advanced system depending on the size of your home, the number of people in your household, and the level of hardness you’re dealing with.

Similarly, if you want to rent, the cost will be determined by the size of the water softener required. A leased system would typically cost between $25 and $50 each month, for a total annual cost of $300 to $600.

Buying a water softener will be less expensive in the long run than renting one.

How much water softener maintenance are you willing to take on?

One of the most appealing aspects of renting a water softener is that the provider will handle any necessary maintenance. A specialist will come to your property to fix any problems that arise, and the expenses are normally covered by the rental contract.

One disadvantage is that the rental unit is likely to be older, used, and in need of additional maintenance. Even if the service is covered, having to deal with continuous maintenance issues may be inconvenient. This can usually be minimized by the monthly delivery and changing of the tank.

We’ve lived in our home for eight years and only once was the monthly tank installed improperly, resulting in a drop in water pressure. But the problem went away after the monthly tank change.

If you opt to buy a water softener, you can keep repair and maintenance costs low by choosing a high-quality unit that is well made, low maintenance, and designed to ensure a long service life. Confident in the efficiency of its product, the right water softener manufacturer will provide an exceptional warranty for your unit.

Still, if you don’t want to fuss about with the water softener at all, renting might be more your speed.

Choosing the Right Water Softener Rental Company

Once you’ve decided that renting a water softener is the best choice for your home, it’s important to choose a reliable water softener rental company in your area. The company you choose will affect your overall experience and may even affect your options for financing if you decide to buy a unit later.

The factors listed below will help you narrow down your options and find the best water softener rental company for your needs:

Does the rental contract include routine maintenance and repairs?

When you rent an apartment, the maintenance and repairs of the unit and the building are the responsibility of the landlord. Your water softener rental company should provide the same benefit.

Look for businesses that incorporate periodic maintenance and repairs into their affordable monthly rates. The cost of renting a water softener should not be inflated by unforeseen charges for basic maintenance. After all, renting is expected to deliver immediate cost savings compared to purchasing and maintaining a water softener yourself.

Also, you should examine the responsiveness of your water softener rental company. A timely turnaround from your rental provider ensures that your family has access to soft water without any interruptions. 

Does the company offer a rent to own option?

This is particularly important for homeowners who have chosen to start off by renting a water softener.

In these circumstances, what frequently occurs is that people don’t want to return to having hard water once they learn how much better soft water is — for cleaning, bathing, and more.

You can make the transition (from having a water softener lease to owning the appliance) more straightforward with a rent-to-purchase arrangement.

How Do Water Softeners Solve Hard Water?

Water softeners use ion exchange technology to remove the calcium and magnesium minerals that cause hard water. Before you embark on a quest to rent or buy a water softener, it couldn’t hurt to understand the basics of ion exchange.

Water softeners contain tiny synthetic resin beads made from a polymer called polystyrene. The resin beads have special properties that allow it to trade or “exchange” ions like calcium and magnesium — the ones that cause hard water — as the water passes through the softener.

The resin beads are coated with sodium ions. When hard water flows through the resin bed, the sodium is exchanged for calcium and magnesium ions in the water. This is the water softening process. The water leaving the water softener and entering the home has a much lower water hardness level than when it entered the softener.

When all the sodium has been exchanged, the resin can’t remove any more hardness minerals. The resin needs to be “regenerated” with sodium again. The water softener flushes the resin with a strong brine solution. This causes the hardness minerals to come off the resin beads so sodium ions can coat the resin beads again. Now the water softener is ready to soften the water again.

Despite the popularity of ion exchange water softeners, they do have environmental considerations that have found them banned by some state and local governments.

As a result, there are other water softening systems available, including salt-free systems, magnetic water softeners, and reverse osmosis systems. You can read all about water softener alternatives here.

Final Thoughts

I hope I’ve answered your questions about the costs of renting a water softener. Besides the low monthly costs, though, there are other factors to consider, such as long-term costs, landlord approval, and the reliability of both the company and its water softeners.

If you are still not sure of the impact a water softener will have on your home, we can tell you everything you need to know about water softeners. In fact, Drinking Water wants to help you take control of all your water treatment needs. Check out these articles as well:

Have you rented a water softener? Tell us all about it in the comments below!

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