The water you use comes from the city’s piping system or ground water/well, depending on where you live. As it travels through the ground to your home, the water picks up certain minerals that are kept in the water that streams out of your faucet.
The terms “hard water” and “soft water” may sound familiar to you, but the effects of hard water on the home are seen regardless of our knowledge on the subject. No matter if you rent or own, many of us are responsible for maintaining our plumbing and dealing with any issues that can arise. This article will answer the most common questions about what hard water is, how to spot it, and what potential impact it has on your health, as well as what you can do to prevent it and ensure you have access to clean, pure water.
What is hard water?
Water can either be hard or soft. Rainwater is considered “soft” until it meets the ground, where it absorbs the minerals calcium and magnesium, where after it is called “hard water.” Soft water is categorized by how little mineral content is in it and hard water is categorized by how high the mineral content is.
How do I know if I have hard water?
It is quite easy to tell if you have hard water in your home, as it makes itself known quite easily. Here are some of the most common signs that you are dealing with hard water:
- Scale build-up. Hard water causes scaling. Scaling occurs when water has high levels of minerals in it, causing mineral build up on surfaces, such as faucets and showerheads.
- Film or spots on your dishes. Easy to tell if you have hard water this way, especially if you have a dishwasher. Minerals will build up from the wash and dry on the glass making it easy to “spot.”
- Dry, itchy skin. The most common effect of hard water is it causing dry and itchy skin, as hard water makes soap harder to wash off, thus leaving skin irritated.
- Feeling scum or film on your hands or body after washing. This is caused by the soap not being able to wash off as easily, so as it makes for dry skin as stated above, it also leaves the skin not feeling clean.
- Mineral stains. These can show up on clothes when they come out of the wash. Clothes also wear out faster due to minerals as well. Minerals can also leave rust-colored stains in your tub, shower, kitchen sink or laundry room tub.
- Water pressure issues. Mineral deposits can form inside of the pipes and can cause a reduction in water flow.
Is hard water bad for your health?
While there are no proven serious adverse health issues that come with drinking or using hard water, it can affect your home’s overall pipe-integrity and end up costing you money down the road.
When it comes to our health, though there are beneficial minerals in hard water, experts agree that you get those minerals in a lot of foods and shouldn’t rely on your tap water for them.
Hard water can also dry out skin so those prone to dry skin or those with skin conditions already may experience increased irritation due to hard water.
What is water softening?
A water softener system works by filtering hard water through a resin that is coated with positively charged sodium ions. The sodium replaces the magnesium and calcium, making the hard water soft. You need to maintain the unit by adding new resin periodically. Some systems use potassium pellets or other means to get the positive ion charge, but they all essentially filter out the main minerals to give you the benefits of soft water.
What are the benefits of soft water?
Soft water has noticeable benefits:
- Less soap and detergent is needed for cleaning.
- Your skin will be less dry and your hair will feel softer.
- Your appliances that use water will potentially last longer since mineral buildup will not accumulate.
- No spots on your dishes.
- No mineral stains on your clothing.
- Your clothing will stay in better condition longer without minerals breaking down the fabric and fading the color over time.
While hard water isn’t going to send you to the doctor, it can make doing simple tasks around the house more of a chore and end up costing you money for new appliances, soap, dishes and clothing. Water is an essential utility we all use, so always make sure your water is helping and not hurting your home and your wash.
Your water being too hard on you?
At Independent Water Service, we offer free water analysis to ensure your water is safe and healthy. We are an EcoWater dealer and specialize in water softening, purification, filtration and drinking water. We proudly service all of Yakima and Kittitas counties.
Give us a call or visit our website today and speak to one of our technicians and get your water tested today.