Hard water is a term that makes many people shudder. It brings up the hassle of dealing with a film on glasses, hard-to-clean tubs, and an odd taste when drinking. A U.S. geological study discovered that more than 85 percent of people have some degree of “hard” water in their homes. Before you can tackle your issues with hard water, it helps to understand what defines water as being hard. The hardness of water is measured in grains of mineral per gallon, with levels of 3.5 GPG or more qualifying the water source as hard.
What Is Hard Water?
Hard water is water that has absorbed minerals as it passes through rocks in high concentration. Elements such as copper, iron, and manganese are found in small amounts, while calcium and magnesium are found in higher concentrations. Hard water causes multiple concerns because it negatively affects plumbing, appliances, grooming, and taste.
Hard water makes clothes feel scratchy and look dingy. The water can damage fibers in your clothes and cause them to wear out much faster than they should. People with hard water have to use more detergent to get it to create suds, which increases the amount of residue being left on your clothes.
Minerals accumulate inside your dishwasher and leave behind a filmy residue on dishes. This residue, called lime scale, is a combination of what is left behind when magnesium and calcium are heated. It coats dishes and the interior components of your dishwasher. The extra heat given off by the hot dishwater releases the minerals faster and makes it harder to clean your dishes. It also reduces the visual appeal of your dishes.
Hard water is definitely rough on your entire home’s plumbing system. These minerals accumulate around plumbing fixtures, reduce the flow of water and create deposits that are difficult, if not impossible, to get rid of. The film places additional stress on the fixtures and plumbing. No matter how much elbow grease you apply, sometimes the deposits want to make themselves a permanent part of your fixture. They accumulate in the pipes, creating clogs and being a costly and large nuisance for maintenance.
Minerals in the water also affect your hair and skin when bathing or showering. The residue accumulates on your skin and can leave it feeling dry, itchy and irritated. You also have to use more shampoo and body wash than normal. This creates a total nightmare for your hair and skin and leaves it looking dull and is harder to maintain than if your hair wasn’t exposed to the minerals on a regular basis.
Hard water isn’t harmful to drink, but it might not taste the best because the presence of the minerals can affect its taste. Coffee pots tend to have a significantly shorter lifespan in homes with hard water due to deposit accumulation.
Solutions for Hard Water
If you do have hard water you can use a water-conditioning product or install a softener for your home. You can also tackle residue by cleaning with plain white vinegar and running it through your appliances.
Hard water is not only an annoyance but also a huge financial burden. It affects clothes, appliances, plumbing and skin. If you think you’re suffering from issues related to hard water, there are options for you to remedy them.
Charlie Teschner started MESA Plumbing, Heating, and Cooling in 1982. Charlie has a journeyman and master plumber’s license. He was raised with a strong work ethic and he now applies those values to tasks such as Longmont, CO heating repair.
Guest Contributor, Charlie Teschner