Many people take water quality for granted when their homes have clean and clear water. You rely on your home’s water supply to wash behind your little one’s ears, keep yourself hydrated, water your garden and run your home plumbing systems. It isn’t until something compromises water quality that simple, everyday tasks turn into enormous chores. One of the most common residential water quality problems is hard water. If you want to resolve a hard water problem, trust the plumbing professionals at United for personalized solutions.
What Is Hard Water?
People use the phrase “hard water” to describe water that contains high concentrations of minerals that have accumulated in the liquid. The water is “harder” due to the presence of these nonliquid minerals. The most common culprits behind hard water are calcium and magnesium, but trace amounts of other contaminants can exist in hard water as well. Water can collect these mineral particles at any point in the water cycle.
In Kansas City, both KC Water and WaterOne try to soften the water at the treatment plant to remove high levels of calcium and magnesium that cause hard water. The water in Phoenix Arizona is also considered hard. Levels of hard water can also vary by house within the same neighborhood, so it’s important to get it checked. Hard water can ultimately cause build-up hidden inside of pipes and appliances that use water like a dishwasher and faucets. The build-up can reduce the flow of water and efficiency.
Professionals typically measure the hardness of water in parts per million (ppm). A percentage represents a portion taken out of a total of 100, while ppm represents a portion taken out of one million. Soft water contains 60 ppm or less of calcium, magnesium and other dissolved particles. Hard water, on the other hand, exhibits between 60 and 180 ppm of minerals. Extremely hard water can have upward of 180 ppm and beyond.
While the presence of some minerals in water isn’t necessarily negative (and can even have some positive effects), too much can be damaging to your home’s plumbing systems – as well as your and your family’s health. The hardness of a home’s water depends on its source, route and treatment. Your home could have very different water than your next-door neighbor’s or a household two streets over. It’s important to hire a professional to inspect your plumbing, detect a hard water problem and recommend solutions.
What Are the Effects of Hard Water?
Hard water behaves differently than soft water. These differences are noticeable when you know what to look for. When your home relies on hard water, you may notice issues with soap scum and water residue, deposits on dishes, lack of soapy lather when you wash, clothes that aren't as clean, differences in your hair and skin, and a strange taste in your drinking water. Dealing with hard water in your home over time can result in a range of problems that do not occur with soft water. The following are three common negative effects of hard water:
1. Appliance inefficiency. Over time, hard water minerals can build up inside your home’s pipes, faucets, and appliances. Mineral buildup can contribute to clogs and reduce the overall efficiency of your appliances. In some cases, you may notice an increase in your water or power bills because your appliances have to work harder to perform the same tasks with hard water than they would with soft water.
Ignoring a hard water problem in your home could ultimately lead to plumbing problems and appliance breakdowns. Your water could be damaging your systems, wasting energy, and shortening the lifespan of your expensive appliances without you noticing. You may also notice low water pressure related to hard water buildup, especially in your bathroom faucets.
2. Dull skin and hair. It’s common for people to report negative effects of hard water on their personal appearances and hygiene – specifically their skin and hair. Washing with hard water can leave mineral residues in your hair just as it does in your plumbing. Bathing frequently or primarily in hard water can eventually cause a film called “soap curd” to build up on your hair and skin.
Soap curd can lead to dull-looking hair, skin irritation and the exacerbation of skin conditions such as eczema. It can inhibit the lathering of soaps and shampoos in the shower as well, preventing you from getting as clean as you might with soft water.
3. Unclean surfaces. If you have hard water in your home, you may experience difficulty whenever you try to clean an item with water. Soap curd caused by hard water can leave more than your hair feeling dirty. You may also see soap curd collect in your sinks and bathtub, on your dishes and on your linens. Living with hard water can lead to a never-ending battle with soap scum on your possessions.
In rare – but serious – cases, extremely hard water can contribute to acute health problems like diarrhea, fatigue and vomiting. If you experience these symptoms, address them with your doctor. If you struggle with hard water in your home, contact your trusted plumbing expert for solutions. Installation of a localized or whole-system water softener can save you time and money you would otherwise waste combating this problem. Hard water can compromise the people and possessions you care about most. Take steps to ensure your water stays clean, clear and reliable with help from a professional.