Many people have heard the terms hard and soft water, but few know the differences between the two. However, you need to know if your water supply is hard, the significance of the hardness, and whether you should do something about it. The following is a brief overview of all these issues.
The Meaning of Water Hardness
The difference between hard and soft water is that hard water contains minerals that soft water does not have. Calcium and magnesium compounds, such as calcium chloride and magnesium bicarbonate, are good examples of such minerals. The more of these minerals water has, the harder it is.
When flowing through the ground, water collects some minerals along its path. Many water treatment processes don’t remove the minerals since they don’t create significant health effects. Thus, your residential water may be hard if the catchment area has significant minerals.
You can buy and use a test kit to confirm whether your water is hard. Some laboratories also perform the tests. However, as explained below, you will usually know whether your water supply is hard after using the water supply for some time.
Hard Water Effects
The minerals in hard water form residues that cause problems for your plumbing and water use. The residues form in two main ways. First, the residues form when hard water evaporates and leave behind the minerals. The residues also form when cleaning compounds, such as soap, react with the minerals in the water.
Below are some of the effects of these residues:
Mineral residues can discolor most surfaces they remain on. For example, they can discolor floor tiles, wall paint, appliance surfaces, and even utensil surfaces. The discolored surfaces may lose their shine and beauty.
Washing clothes with hard water affects both their appearance and durability. Such clothes tend to wear out faster than clothes washed with soft water.
The residue can clog different parts of your plumbing system. For example, minerals can clog your water supply pipes and showerheads. This clogging can reduce water output from your fixtures, such as showerheads, or it can increase water pressure within your pipes, increasing the risk of pipe damages and leaks.
The deposits can affect water-heating systems with tanks. The deposits insulate the tank’s bottom and reduce heating efficiency and hot water availability, increasing heating energy consumption. Mineral deposits can also accelerate the tank’s wear and tear, which reduces the water tank’s lifespan. Tankless units should be descaled once a year per manufacturers instructions. Failing to do this can void the warranty.
You don’t have to contend with the damaging effects of hard water. Current technologies can remove the minerals in hard water and make them soft. Below are a couple of technologies that handle the removal:
Water softeners that use ion exchange replace the minerals in hard water with minerals that won’t affect your plumbing. For example, magnesium and calcium ions are the common offending minerals in hard water. An ion-exchange softener can replace the minerals with sodium, which doesn’t have similar effects.
In reverse osmosis (RO), the water softener forces the water to pass through several filters. The filters trap the minerals in water since the mineral ions are bigger than water molecules. Note that RO removes all particles that are bigger than the actual water molecules. Thus, you should only use the technology if you don’t plan to leave such particles in the water.
You should deal with your hard water before it creates bigger problems. Contact Spartan Plumbing Services if your plumbing system exhibits signs of hard water damage. We will diagnose the problem and provide you with a professional solution. We have been in the plumbing business for over 60 years and promise you affordable plumbing solutions.