One of the most common plumbing problems homeowners face is hard water buildup. Hard water can cause mineral deposits to build up in appliances and fixtures, leading them to corrode over time. Here’s what you need to know about soft vs hard water and how you can clean your home without damaging it further.
What is Hard Water?
Hard water is a type of water that has high mineral content. Specifically:
- Other minerals in trace amounts
The hardness of the water is determined by the amount of calcium and magnesium dissolved in it.
Natural levels of calcium and magnesium are present in most water supplies. This is common in both well and city water. In fact, cities within the same state can have different levels of water hardness due to the unique mineral content in their areas.
Hard water can cause buildup on pipes, appliances, and fixtures as well as corrode metal parts. It also causes soap scum to form on showerheads and tubs. Even though it can damage your plumbing over time, you can safely drink and wash with hard water.
What is Soft Water?
Soft water, on the other hand, has lower levels of minerals such as calcium and magnesium than hard water. Soft water is most often found in natural rainfall that has yet to contact the ground.
Let’s look at the distinctions between hard and soft water, why recognizing the indicators of hard water is crucial, and what hard water remedies are available.
Water Hardness Vs. Water Softness
Hard water is not actually “hard”, despite its name. A huge number of minerals may be found in water. This occurs when water flows through soft rock such as limestone, chalk, or gypsum before reaching water supply pipes, picking up naturally occurring minerals such as calcium and magnesium in the process. Although some people believe that hard water has a nicer taste than soft water, you should not always wash with it. When you shower with hard water, you may not feel completely clean, and your hair may seem dull. Hard water can leave spots and stains on your clothing over time, and hard water will leave spots and stains on your dishes as the water evaporates. “Hard water stains” are what they’re called.
Soft water, on the other hand, travels through hard rock like granite and retains very little or no minerals throughout the process. As a result, soft water has exceptional cleansing properties. It’s what makes soap lather up so nicely. Your dishes will be shinier, your hair will be more bright, and your clothing will be cleaner after cleansing if you use soft water. In houses with soft water, major appliances have a longer life expectancy. Soft water may also help these appliances run more efficiently. This is due to the fact that soft water only takes a tiny amount of energy to operate. The best part is that you won’t have to rewash your dishes to make them spotless.
How To Determine The Hardness Of Water?
One of the most prevalent plumbing issues in the United States is hard water. Because hard water affects 85 percent of the population in the United States, there’s a good chance you reside in one of these states.
The hardness of water is measured in GPG (grains per gallon). Even if you don’t reside in a “very hard” or “very hard” water zone, the impacts of hard water may be felt as early as 7 grains of hardness. If you are on city water, you may test your water using a hard water test kit or by calling your municipality.
For example, the state of California’s water is generally hard to extremely hard. The hardness of the water in Sacramento is 9 GPG, which places the city in the center of the water hardness scale.
Is Hard Water Harmful to Your Health?
Hard water has been determined to have no negative effects on the human body and may even be beneficial. Calcium, magnesium, and other essential minerals may be found in hard water, which can be used as a nutritional supplement. Although there is some indication that hard water may lessen the risk of cardiovascular disease, there hasn’t been enough study to link the two. While hard water isn’t harmful to the human body, it may cause problems with plumbing and home equipment.
What Are Hard Water’s Effects on Plumbing Systems?
Hard water creates a white residue on anything it comes into touch with, including dishes, sinks, and glassware, owing to mineral deposits. Soap scum may form when soap reacts with the calcium deposits left behind. When this builds up, particularly in your shower and sink, it may be difficult and time-consuming to remove, wreaking havoc on your plumbing and drainage systems. Because these deposits will build up within your pipes and restrict water flow to faucets and showerheads, this is a problem.
Additionally, hard water has the potential to be costly. Hard water may put a strain on plumbing systems, contribute to corrosion, and reduce the efficiency of cleaning products. Mineral accumulation may cause a home’s dishwasher and water heater to perform inefficiently. Appliances may use more energy, resulting in higher long-term costs. Hard water, in fact, may cause a washing machine to wear out 30 percent quicker, according to the American Water Works Association.
Treatments for Hard Water
Chemical hard water remedies do not solve the problem; instead, they mask some of the side effects, such as soap scum. This is simply a temporary fix since these cleaners don’t address the source of the problem, and some of them might damage your pipes, your health, and the environment.
The impact of mechanical hard water treatments is more desired and lasts longer. You may install water softeners in your plumbing system. This increases the number of sodium ions in the water, which helps to displace minerals in hard water. A water filter is recommended when using an ion exchange water softener for hard water treatment since sodium ions may make your water taste salty. If you suffer from health concerns like edema or high blood pressure, you should seriously consider installing a water filter, since extra salt may exacerbate these conditions.
Whether you want to install a water softener, a water filter, or both, a qualified local plumber can help you with your hard water problems. If you want to learn more about the differences between hard water and soft water, this post provides an overview plus some solutions for your home.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is hard water or soft water better for cleaning?
A: Hard water is better for cleaning because the minerals in hard water trap more dirt and grime. That said, soft water with a high amount of dissolved oxygen dissolves iron particles which can harm plants when left on surfaces. Softened tap or bottled mineral waters are also good options.
How do you treat hard water at home?
A: In the United States, most homes with hard water have a system that distributes and filters it at all of the fixtures. Installation costs vary depending on what parts you need replacing in your home.
How do you convert hard water to soft water at home for bathing?
A: You can use a lime or lemon juice mixture, and some baking soda.
Hard water can cause buildup in hot water heaters as well. For more information, see our post 7 Reasons To Schedule Hot Water Heater Maintenance.
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