Do you know whether your home has hard or soft water? If you’ve only ever experienced one or the other, it may be hard to figure out whether the water in your home is hard or soft.
Hard water means the water in your home isn’t filtered from the point it reaches the water meter to when it exits a faucet or appliance for use. Your water is certainly treated by your local treatment facility, but these processes can still leave a variety of minerals dissolved in the water. Soft water is the term for water that is filtered as it enters your home, removing the vast majority of these dissolved minerals from the water before it exits faucets.
Hard water can have a variety of undesirable effects on yourself and your home fixtures. Many of these effects prompt homeowners to install a water softener.
Hard water leads to a greater consumption of soap. The ions in hard water can react with the sudsing elements in soap to create soap scum rather than the luxurious lather we prefer. It’s not just shampoo, either--body soap, dishwashing soap, laundry detergent, and other cleaning solutions are all affected by hard water. These household products are expensive, so using a little bit more product for every wash adds up to significant extra dollars spent over the years.
As hard water flows through a pipe, the minerals dissolved in it (mostly calcium and magnesium), can settle on the interior of the pipe. Over time, the entire pipe can become coated in what is called pipe scale. Just like plaque in your arteries can risk damage to your heart, scale in pipes can risk damage to your plumbing system. With less area to flow through, running water exerts more and more pressure on the pipes which can lead to cracks and leaks at pipe joints.
Unfortunately, any beautiful brass or stainless steel shower head is vulnerable to mineral deposits from hard water. Wherever the water reaches, white buildups can occur. These mineral buildups are unsightly and, as they worsen over time, will eventually be impossible to clean off. You could find yourself replacing expensive faucets prematurely as a result of long-term mineral buildup.
Sometimes hard water can contribute to common skin problems, like chronic dry skin. The soap scum mentioned earlier is a significant contributor—it can remain on the skin and cause irritation. Many people try creams and lotions, but softening their water might be the most direct solution.
Sometimes the combinations of ions in your water can create strange smells or tastes. As far as tastes go, you can purchase a water filter for your sink, but nobody wants to bathe in smelly water. Hard water isn’t going to kill you, but it can do a lot of obnoxious things to you and your home.
Contact your local Roto-Rooter today for more information about how you can minimize the effects of hard water on your home's plumbing system. A water softener might be the right solution for you.