How do you know if your home contains hard water and why is it important to understand your home water?
If you have hard water, then you are not alone. Nearly 85% of people in the U.S. have hard water!
Hard water can be tough on your home, skin and wallet. The tell-tale signs include things, such as:
- water spots on dishes or glasses,
- soap scum in the shower and sink,
- dulled hair and clogged pores,
- scratchy or hard clothes after doing the laundry,
- increased difficulty in household chores, and/or
- reduced water flow and pressure.
However, there are certain things a homeowner can do (such as installing a water softener) to reduce the impact of hard water. Learn more about hard water to understand the impact of hard water on your health.
What is hard water?
Hard water has a high mineral content. In particular, the water contains dissolved compounds of calcium and magnesium or occasionally other metallic elements.
Hard water is a natural result deriving from minerals (i.e., calcium and magnesium) accumulating during the water cycle. It can form in well water and city water. The more calcium and magnesium dissolved in the water, then the harder the water becomes, which is why certain cities or counties within the same region have varying degrees of water hardness.
Originally, the term hard water referred to to the soap wasting properties of hard water, which is why many signs of hard water relate to cleaning. The “hardness” prevents soap from lathering by causing the development of an insoluble mineral contained within the water.
As a result, the dissolved calcium and magnesium salts are primarily responsible for most scaling in pipes or water heaters and cause numerous problems with laundry and cleaning the kitchen or bathroom.
For reference, the degree of hardness standard was established by the American Society of Agricultural Engineers and the Water Quality Association. Hardness is typically expressed in grains per gallon (or gpg). One grain is equivalent to 17.1 milligrams of calcium or magnesium dissolved in one liter of water.
What does this mean?
For example, as mineral deposits build up inside pipes or appliances they may clog these home systems. As little as 5 grains of water hardness may lead to an 8% efficiency reduction and an 8% increase in cost for water heaters.
What causes hard water?
Minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, are in all around us. These minerals are contained in things such as chalk, limestone, and marble. In fact, most of the underlying elements of our planet are made from limestone and is the underlying cause of hard water.
What are the impacts of hard water?
From drinking water to bathing, we rely on our home water for most of our everyday needs. There have been many examples of issues with public drinking water across the country (and even in Plainville, CT).
However, it is also important to realize that the water used to shower requires your attention as well. If you have hard water, then the minerals may cause dry or itchy skin.
Why does this happen?
Minerals in hard water have a positive charge, while our hair and skin have a negative charge. As a result, these charges attract and the minerals linger on your skin, which dry out our skin. Plus, the minerals are difficult to rinse out.
Do you have a flakey scalp? It might not only be dead skin, but also calcium deposits shaking out as well.
The minerals in the water react with most soaps and shampoos, which reduce their effectiveness and produces soap scum. It is likely to produce a downward cycle where your water makes your hair dry, frizzy, and unmanageable. In turn, many people wash their hair MORE, which further damages your hair and scalp!
In addition, certain studies linked hard water exposure with childhood development of eczema, which affects about 10% of the U.S. population.
How is hard water treated?
A water softener counteracts the impact of hard water. Properly installed water softeners will create better water quality and extend the life of appliances, such as the washing machine.
Water softeners remove the minerals from the water to make it “softer” by using one of three basic means:
- Chemical softening
- Membrane separation softening
- Cation exchange softening
For residential needs, then most water softening is done via cation exchange.
Additionally, water softeners can be installed at the point of entry (i.e., where the water enters your home) or the point of use (i.e., faucets).
How to test for hard water?
Testing is not a DIY activity. The only way to determine the hardness of your water and how to get it clean is to test for all likely contaminants. Fortunately, the Environmental Protection Agency established guidelines that all professionals (and homeowners) need to follow in order to protect their families from contamination. To learn more, then the Water Quality Association offers a variety of resources to make an informed decisions for your family.
For a free in-home water analysis and proposal on the water treatment solution that’s right for you, contact SolvIt today. SolvIt provides our water quality solutions to all of our local service areas.