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My Home Has Hard Water

Looking to soften your home’s water? Before you start, know how to detect if you have hard water.

Why Your Home Has Hard Water

If your soap isn’t lathering or you’re noticing yellow stains in your shower or sink, you likely have hard water. In other words, your water contains high levels of calcium, magnesium, lime, or other minerals.

Once you know you're dealing with hard water, you can find the right device, like a water softener, or determine the problem if you already have one. A functioning water softener will help you avoid future plumbing, cleaning, and maintenance issues.

Potential Issues

  • water is hard

A water softener draws hard minerals like calcium, manganese, and iron out of your tap water using an ion exchange process. Tiny beads on the mineral bed exchange salt for the hard minerals in your water and trap them inside. During the backwash cycle, the process is reversed so the mineral bed can clean itself using salt to get ready for the next day. If your system runs out of salt, the mineral bed can't clean itself during the backwash cycle and the hard minerals you're trying to get rid of will make their way back into your tap water.

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  • water is hard

Unlike a simple water filter, water softeners use a process called ion exchange to swap hard metals and minerals for salt. They do this by passing water through the mineral bed, which is made up of a material called cation 32. When water fills with hard metals and minerals, such as iron or manganese, and passes over the cation 32, salt is released from the dimples and traded for these other particles. The hard particles are then trapped within the dimples, leaving your water soft. Every few days, the cation 32 starts to get full and your water softener will complete a backwash cycle. During the backwash cycle, salt water floods into the mineral bed and the earlier process is reversed. The cation 32 releases the hard metals and minerals and traps fresh salt, allowing the hard particles to be washed down the drain. After the backwash cycle is complete, your water softener is refreshed and ready to start pulling more hard particles out of your water. If any part of these two processes is interrupted, your water softener won’t work, leaving you with hard water that can cause stains, reduce the effectiveness of soap, and leave your water tasting metallic.

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  • water is hard

Sometimes small problems can cause large headaches. Like all appliances, your water softener needs electricity to run. If someone accidentally bumps it or unplugs it and forgets to plug it back in, your water softener will stop working. If your water isn't very hard, you may not notice right away. Once you do notice a change in your water, make sure that the cord is plugged completely into the outlet.

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  • water is hard

The brine tank is a large container attached to your water softener. When the backwash cycle starts, the control head on your water softener will fill the brine tank with a set amount of water to create the brine. The control head then draws the brine out of the tank through the nozzle, throat, and screen and into the mineral bed. The brine regenerates the bed, and when it’s done the control head will run through two rinse cycles to prepare your water softener for use the next morning. If any parts involved in the backwash process get clogged, the control head can't pull the water out of the brine tank. After several cycles, the brine tank will flood. The good news is that you likely don’t need to worry about the tank overflowing. Most brine tanks have a safety float valve inside a separate tube in the tank. However, if there’s too much water in the tank, the water softener can't clean itself, which will cause your water to get harder over time.

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  • water is hard

The timer motor drives everything in the control head. It's in charge of keeping the correct time of day and pacing the control during all the cycles that the unit has to go through, including counting down the days until the next backwash. If your timer motor stops working, your entire water softener will stop working until it's fixed.

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