What is "Hard Water"?
Hard water is water with a high mineral content. Magnesium and calcium are typically the two most common minerals in hard water. These minerals are dangerous because they can cause scale build up in your homes plumbing, which can ruin pipes, appliances and more. These are the two minerals that your water softener primarily targets.
Not sure you have hard water? Well roughly around 85% of the USA has hard water, so there is a good chance you might. According to a US Geological Survey, Indiana, Wisconsin, Florida, New Mexico, Utah and Arizona are the states with the hardest untreated ground water. To confirm whether you have hard water or not contact your local water utility company and ask.
How Does a Water Softener Work?
Water softeners have resin tanks with thousands of tiny resin beads that hold electrically charged ions. When you put salt into your water softener the beads become full of sodium ions. When hard water enters your plumbing it must pass through your water softener before entering the rest of your homes plumbing. As the hard water passes through your resin tank, the hard water ions are attracted to the resin beads. The sodium ions in the resin beads are then exchanged for the hard water ions creating soft water. To make sure this happens you must make sure your water softener is kept topped off with salt.
Running out of salt and overfilling are two common mistakes with water softeners. To make sure you are adding the proper amount of salt consult your systems manufacturer or hire a local pro.