Proudly Serving Fredericksburg and Surrounding Areas

Water Softener Frequently Asked Questions

Have you been considering a water softener?  Not sure how they work?  How a water softener can benefit your family and your plumbing?  Oh… and what IS hard water anyway?

Here we are going to answer the most common questions we get asked about water softeners!

Questions We Answer:

What is hard water?

Hard water contains high levels of dissolved minerals – most often calcium and magnesium.  Hard water can be found in both city water and well water.  While municipalities treat their water supplies, they do not remove excess minerals so even city water can be hard.

These dissolved minerals can decrease the effectiveness of soaps and detergents.  Hard water can deposit these minerals throughout your pipes, plumbing appliances, toilets, sinks, bathtubs, and showers.

Do we have hard water in our area?

For the homes in our region that have well water, it varies but a water test would let us know if we need to recommend a softener.

For the homes in our region including Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, Stafford, King George, and Caroline most of the water supplies have hard water.  Some municipalities in our area have significantly hard water.

How does a water softener work?

Without getting too technical – let us explain how a water softener works.  If you’re not confident in your scientific knowledge, skip to the simple explanation!

Water softeners use a process called ion exchange to remove dissolved minerals from your water.  The main tank of a water softener contains resin beads that are negatively charged with the sodium (salt) ions from the brine tank containing the water softener salt.  When hard water flows through the resin beads in the main tank, the mineral ions (calcium, magnesium, etc.) have a positive charge.  Opposites attract in this case, and the resin beads exchange a salt ion for a mineral ion.  The resin bead holds onto the mineral ion and releases a salt ion.

Eventually, the resin beads become saturated with mineral ions.  This is when a water softener will regenerate, and this is usually set to happen overnight.  The water softener goes offline and flushes salt water from the brine tank into the main tank.  Again, ion exchange swaps the hard minerals for new sodium ions, and the hard minerals are flushed out of the system.

Simple Explanation – How A Water Softener Works:

Hard minerals are exchanged for salt in the main tank of a water softener.  After the tank is full of hard minerals, it regenerates and flushes out those hard minerals and adds more salt from the brine tank.

labeled diagram of a water softener including a main tank, control head, brine tank, and salt in the brine tank with a trident logo

What are the benefits of a water softener?

Hard water wreaks havoc on your plumbing.  Installing a water softener can prevent the following issues:

  • Over time hard water can leave mineral deposits in your water lines that reduce the flow of water
  • Mineral deposits also clog up faucet aerators and shower heads
  • Hard water stains on showers, bathtubs, toilets, sinks, and plumbing fixtures
  • Mineral deposits can shorten the lifespan of your dishwasher, washing machine, toilets, and water heater


Aside from preventing damage, you’ll also notice the following benefits:

  • Less soap will be needed to get things clean including dishes, clothes, and you!
  • More effective soap lather when washing your hands, body, or hair
  • Easier to clean showers, bathtubs, sinks, toilets, and plumbing fixtures

Do I have to use salt?

We have many customers who have concerns about adding salt to their water – especially when they are on low-salt diets for cardiac health issues.

The amount of salt that is added to your water from a water softener is small, and not a concern for the vast majority of adults.  However, if you are on a severely sodium-restricted diet you can use potassium chloride instead of standard sodium chloride.  Potassium chloride is more expensive and typically not readily available in the big box stores, but you can have it delivered.

Why does a city water softener also include a carbon filter?

While you can get just a water softener, which is what we install for customers with hard well water, a city softener also includes a carbon filter.

This carbon filter removes chlorine, chloramines, pesticides, herbicides, and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from your water.  Chlorine and chloramines are important, they are added to city water to prevent bacteria from growing in the water supply.  However, it is best to remove these chemicals before drinking or bathing.  Pesticides, herbicides, and VOCs can be found in city water from waste and runoff and they are not removed during the water treatment process.

Our Customers Always Come First

Here at Trident Plumbing, we believe promises should always be followed by actions.

To learn more about who we are and our core values, click below!

Ready To Schedule An Appointment?

You can easily book appointments and a variety of free estimates online!

Find a day and time that best fits your schedule.

Want To Learn More?