What do you think of when you hear the term “hard water?” Do you imagine a film on your skin and hair when you get out of the shower or do you consider the dark stains in your toilet bowl? If these things describe your home, you likely have hard water, and perhaps you’ve been debating investing in a water softener to help. One study suggests that approximately 85 percent of American homes have hard water, so while it is relatively normal, it may be irritating to you. In this article, we will discuss what hard water is and what you can do about it.
What is “Hard Water?”
When water falls to the Earth as rain, it is “soft,” which really means that it is free of other minerals or additives. The “hard” in water is the amount of dissolved calcium and magnesium that has attached to the water molecules. Water hardness is measured in grains per gallon, rated on a scale of one to ten; the higher the rating, the harder the water. The reason that you may associate hard water to the rough feeling of water in the shower isn’t the water itself, but the calcium in the water reacting with soap, which creates a filmy soap scum that builds up on your skin, hair, and shower walls. The stains in your toilet are due to rust from excess iron in the water. The iron levels may be low enough that the flowing water remains clear, but it builds up on your pipes and areas where water sits idle.
Is Hard Water a Problem?
According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and the National Research Council, generally, hard water is not harmful to health and can even contribute a small amount of your daily needed calcium and magnesium. The problems arise when the water is heated and the mineral precipitates out of the water in a deposit crust or scale. These scales are what can build up in appliances and pipes, causing blockages, stains, and negatively affect appliance performance, including water heaters. The scale can build up in water and pipes, and are poor conductors of heat, meaning it takes more energy to heat the water. People see this as a rise in energy bills.
What Can You do About it?
If your hard water is causing you to want to do something about it, there are a few home remedies you can try. You can reduce the temperature of your hot water heater, this can help prevent the separation and build-up of scales. Purchase soaps that are specially made for hard water, which have a reduced calcium reaction and will help reduce soap scum. Remove calcified buildup on pipes and appliances, including your hot water heater, regularly. Use vinegar to clean soap scum and mineral deposits. If you can taste the minerals, use bottled water to make coffee and tea.
You may have heard that purchasing and installing a water softener is your only option. Although a water softener does provide the best outcome, it comes with its downsides. A water softener comes with a relatively hefty initial cost, of around 2,000 dollars. Water bills and energy bills may go up due to the cost of operating the unit as well as the increased water usage to cycle the water. Water softeners work by removing calcium, magnesium, and iron from water as it comes into your home.
If you are looking into the possibility of installing a water softener into your home, our expert plumbers at Culler Plumbing Services in Granite City can help install your water softener. Our plumbers can also help with your hot water heater and drain cleaning to make sure everything in your home is flowing smoothly. Call to get your obligation-free estimate today!