Hard water is not always bad for your health. But, it can cause problems with your plumbing and appliances and is considered a nuisance by many homeowners. Learning exactly what hard water actually is and how it affects your plumbing can help you discover what needs to be done about it.
WHAT IS HARD WATER?
The phrase ” hard water ” describes a freshwater supply that contains relatively high measures of natural minerals, including magnesium and calcium. Hard water usually leaves a white chalky stain on the faucet, which indicates that you have hard, not soft water.
HOW DOES WATER BECOME HARD?
Although rainwater is pure when it falls from the sky, it absorbs minerals, primarily calcium and magnesium, as it flows from the surface into aquifers. This absorption turns it from soft water to hard water. The quantity of mineral content that water carries determines the hardness level of the water.
The hardness of water is generally measured in milligrams per liter (mg/L) or GPG (Grains of Mineral Per Gallon). The USGS (United States Geological Survey) measures the hardness of water as milligrams of calcium carbonate per liter of water and classes the hardness levels as follows:
- 0 to 60 mg/L: Soft
- 61 to 120 mg/L: Moderately hard
- 121 to 180 mg/L: Hard
- More than 181 mg/L: Very hard
Hard water can surely be problematic as it reacts with cleaning products, produces soap buildup, and can sometimes wear down fixtures and appliances more swiftly than soft water. The different types of minerals in hard water react with soap to form soap scum, inhibiting suds.
This simply means you need to use more soap with hard water. The accumulation of minerals on dishes and glasses, clothing, fixtures, and even skin and hair can take its toll over time. Below are some of the typical household problems linked to hard water:
- Scale accumulation inside water supply pipes resulting in restricting water flow
- Film and scale buildup on ceramic tile and fixtures
- Difficulty rinsing shampoo and soap completely, leaving hair and skin feeling dry or dull
- Scale deposits reduce the life of water-heaters
- Spots on glasses and dishes cleaned in the dishwasher
- Less effective garment cleaning due to scarcity of suds
- Increased wear on clothing during washing
HOW DOES HARD WATER AFFECT PLUMBING?
The buildup on showers, tubs, sinks, and faucets induced by hard water is part of the problem. The minerals present in hard water also begin to build up inside fixtures, pipes, and appliances over time. The buildup we do not see can commence causing plumbing problems, such as reduced water flow, clogs, and raised stress on pipes and fixtures.
The mineral sediments also cause appliances to function less efficiently and wear down faster. For example, a water heater has to heat all mineral scale buildup inside the tank as well as the water. Overall, hard water can result in less efficient plumbing and more repairs over time.
TESTING FOR HARD WATER
White-scale accumulation on plumbing fixtures is a solid indicator of hard water. If you assume that your house has hard water, there is a low-tech approach to examine it by shaking up a minute amount of dish soap and water in a sealed container. If the mixture fails to create a lot of suds, your house possibly has hard water.
You can also contact Lone Star Water Services, the best local water softener, and water heater sales and service, for more precise results and request a recent water testing report. You can also have a sample of your water tested with us, or if you need, we can also perform an on-site test.
Another option is to use a water hardness test strip (sold at home centers and hardware stores) to hold under running water and then match to a color gauge.
Water-conditioning systems and products are available and can be utilized for dealing with mildly hard water. However, the most complete and common solution for treating hard water is a whole-house water softener. Placing a good water softener in cases where the water tests over 3 GPG is usually the most effective solution.
Lone Star Water Service has been in business since 2010 and has over 20 years of experience. Our technicians are licensed and insured to ensure you receive only the best service. We offer the installation of Clack water softeners, iron filters, chlorinators, and reverse osmosis units. We have been installing Clack products for many years and have found them very dependable and highly capable of handling the hard water challenges we have here in Central Texas.