If your new home has a water softener, you may have questions about the system's purpose, functionality and upkeep. These answers to commonly asked questions can help you understand and maintain your water softener. 

Why does my home need a water softener?

If your new home comes with a water softener, it's because your community has naturally very hard water. Hard water contains mineral deposits like lime, magnesium and calcium. These deposits can form a build up on glasses, fixtures, sinks and showers, and can cause plumbing problems. Water softeners treat hard water and remove these deposits, which can reduce your home maintenance and upkeep. 

How does the water softener work?

Your water softener comes with a mineral tank containing negatively charged resin beads. The resin beads are bonded to positively charged sodium particles. When the home's water is filtered through the mineral tank, the positively charged minerals in the water naturally switches places with the sodium. This switch takes place because the positive charge of the minerals is stronger than that of the sodium. The minerals remain in the tank and the sodium is carried away in the water. The resins go through a periodic regeneration process to get rid of the minerals and keep the system running. 

Why does soft water feel slick on my body?

The vast majority of homes in the United States—almost 90%—have hard water running through their pipes. However, the degree of hardness varies and not all of these homes require a softener. As a result, many people in the United States are simply used to the feeling that comes from bathing in hard water.

The minerals in hard water react with soap and interfere with its effectiveness. To bathe in hard water, extra soap is required and an invisible layer of soap scum is left on the body at all times. Many people are used to the soap scum feeling on their skin after a bath or shower. Soft water does not react to soap in this manner. Less soap is required to become clean and soap scum is fully removed during the bathing process. The "slick" feeling that many people experience after a shower in soft water is the feeling of actual cleanliness, without a layer of soap scum left on the body. 

Is soft water salty?

The sodium in soft water is very insignificant and falls well below the FDA's threshold for "very low sodium" products. It does not taste salty, and for many people it poses no health risks.

How often does salt need to be added to the system?

This varies, depending on the size of the system and the amount it gets used. To check whether or not it's time to add salt to your system, open up the tank and look inside. If you can see water in the tank, either at or above the level of the salt, it's time to add more salt. 

Who can I call if the system breaks?

If your water softener is having a problem, or if you need to install a replacement softener system, contact a skilled plumber in your area (such as Optimum Plumbing LLC). He or she will be able to service your system and will also be able to answer any other questions you might have about your water softener.