What is hard water?
The water that comes out of your tap is not totally pure. Water is a good solvent and it can absorb chemicals quite easily. When water absorbs magnesium and calcium, especially in areas where limestone is present, it is said to be 'hard'. There are differing degrees of 'hardness' and your water company will be able to tell you exactly how hard or soft your water is. An average hard water home builds up 1/16th (1.5mm) of an inch of scale per year.
A quick way to tell if you have hard water and may benefit from having a water softener is to look at the element in a cooking pot that you have been using for a while. If there are white deposits (limescale) on the element, you have hard water.
What are the benefits of soft water?