Hard water is a problem that plagues many households. Hard water is water that contains a higher amount of calcium and various minerals than soft water. You can’t tell the difference between hard and soft water just by looking at it, but it has a drastic effect on your household appliances. Hard water can cause shower heads and faucets to become clogged, make your hair and skin feel rough and irritated, damage your clothes and make dishes look spotty and scratched. That is why many people choose to install a water softener for their plumbing system. However, you need to know how to properly use and maintain a water softener in order to gain the full effects of it. How does a water softener work? Most water softeners work by using a method called an ion exchange. The device removes the minerals that cause hard water such as calcium and magnesium and replaces them with sodium or potassium ions. This is achieved by passing the water through a filter of negatively charged polystyrene beads. Since the minerals that cause hard water are positively charged, the minerals will stick to the beads when passing through the filter. The ions are then replaced by sodium or potassium ions found in the salt or potassium pellets within the device. How do I operate a water softener? Operating a water softener is very simple. The devices are easy to use and don’t require much in terms of maintenance. First, fill the brine tank with water. The amount of water will depend on the make and model of your specific device. Check the manual for any instructions on how much water should be added to the brine tank. Second, figure out whether you will be using sodium or potassium within your water softener. Remember, the sodium or potassium will be going into your water supply. You bathe in the water, drink it and wash your clothes and dishes in it. If you have medical issues with either sodium or potassium, choose the alternative. If you choose sodium, you will need salt for your system. You can either get rock salt, solar salt or evaporated salt. Refer to the manual of your system to learn exactly how much salt should be added to your brine tank. If you choose potassium, you can buy the proper potassium pellets at your local home improvement store. One bag of potassium pellets should be a good amount for any softening system. Third, you will need to test your water to check the water hardness levels. This will help you determine the settings of your water softener. Most water softeners come with a water test kit, but they can also be bought at your local home improvement store. If your water softener comes with a control panel, set the time and date and enter in the water’s hardness level. Finally, a water softener must recharge itself in order to maintain proper functionality. Recharging usually requires the homeowners to refrain from using hot water until the device is fully recharged. In order to ensure that this doesn’t affect your everyday routine, set it for a time that you know you won’t be using hot water such as midnight or later. If you want your water softener professionally installed, contact ABC Plumbing and Rooter Company. They can assist you with not only water softener installation and repair, but they can also help you with flood damage, leaky pipes, sewer issues, clogs, remodeling and much more.