If you are replacing your water softener earlier than 8-10 years, then you should also look into install a water softener as your home most likely has hard water. Hard water is characterized as minerals in your water, that when settle form into a hard substance almost like rock, that can accumulate in water heater tanks and cause them to break quicker. Hard water can cause significant problems in not only water heaters, but also washing machines and dishwashers, since the hard water can lead to mineral accumulation in the coils and pipes within these appliances. In the event you think you might have hard water, there are various of types of kits you can buy at your local home improvement store to check your water or you can also send a little vial of your water off to a lab to get tested. There are a lot of solutions, from saltless water softeners like the NuvoH2O Saltless Water Softener, to magnetic water conditioners that can help remove or eliminate the minerals in your water.
Of course there are more conventional water softener solutions, such as the Northstar Water Softener, that use multiple tanks and might treat large homes or even multi-unit houses. No matter whether you go with water softener that uses a newer technology or a conventional water softener, you want to make sure it is installed properly. These days there are a lot of videos on youtube and even manufactures websites, which make installing a water softener a lot easier. Though if you don't have any plumbing experience or if you need to install an electrical box to hook up your water softener, it is best to hire a professional. A professional plumber can install a water softener in generally 1-2 hours and the best thing is you will get a warranty on the work, so if a pipe should leak, you can have it repaired for free.