If you find yourself replacing your home appliances more frequently than you should, then there is a good chance that you have hard water problems. Hard water can cause significant problems to water heaters, dishwashers and washing machines since the hard water can lead to mineral buildup in the coils and pipes within these appliances. If you think that you may have hard water, there are many types of kits you can purchase at your local home improvement store to test your water or sent it off to a laboratory to get tested. Of course there are also visible indicators such as a film or soap scum buildup on shower doors and faucets that can indicate hard water problems. If you do have hard water, there are plenty of solutions from magnetic water softeners to saltless water softeners both of which can be installed in under an hour. Even if you do not have a lot of space, there are solutions such as the NuvoH2O Water Softener that can be mounted in-line with your incoming water connection and require no floor space to sit on.
Of course there are more conventional water softener solutions that use multiple tanks and can treat large homes or even multi-unit residences, such as a Northstar Water Softener. Regardless of whether you go with a salt based systems or saltless system, you do want to regularly check it and replace the filters or salt when required. Meaning that once a month or so you want to check the unit and monitor your water supply and if you notice a difference in taste of your water, then you want to either replace the water softener cartridge or make sure that your unit has enough salt. Many units these days even have basic control panels that will tell you visually if there is a problem or if maintenance is required.