Having to deal with hard water at home can be an expensive issue.
When the groundwater flows via the home pipes, the dissolved minerals blend with the heat, which builds up substances that cause damage to your appliances, plumbings, and fixtures.
Rainwater is entirely pure and void of mineral or even soft water, you know.
However, as the rainwater flows from the ground, it accumulates magnesium and calcium along their way. Water that collects a massive quantity of minerals is termed hard water, and it can be adversely harmful to your health and home.
Hard water refers to the water that consists of salts of calcium and magnesium principally as chlorides, bicarbonates, and sulfates. Ferrous iron might even be present, an oxidized ferric form that appears reddish-brown on washed fabrics and enameled surfaces.
Water hardness caused due to calcium bicarbonate is temporary. You can separate the calcium bicarbonate by boiling it, as boiling converts bicarbonate into insoluble carbonate.
However, hardness from various other salts is permanent. For example, Magnesium and calcium ions in the hard water react with higher fatty acids of the soap and form an element, which is insoluble gelatinous curd. This type of objectionable reaction hardly takes place with present days detergents.
Hard water is a very common issue found in most households these days, and hard water treatment is crucial for those using hard water for consumption purposes.
As per the US Water Quality Association, hard water contains dissolved hardness minerals of over 1 GPG (Grains per Gallon). The most common hardness is caused by minerals like magnesium and calcium dissolved in the water supply.
Hard Water Levels
- For soft water, it is below 1 GPG.
- For slightly hard water, it is between 1 and 3.5 GPG.
- For moderately hard water, it is between 3.5 and 7 GPG.
- For hard water, it is between 7 and 10.5 GPG.
- For very hard water, it is 10.5 and higher GPG.
Using hard water for various daily housework is just fine. From washing down the driveway to water huge gardens, most water, whether from a well or a municipal treatment plant, works just fine.
For indoor use like doing dishes, bathing, washing clothes, and various other tasks, note that hard water is not as convenient or efficient as soft water.
Hard Water Results
- A scum of soap remains on the surface, which leaves unsightly spots on the glassware, dishes, and flatware.
- Heating hard water in the water heater results in an increased hardness scale. The scale plugs the plumbing and builds upon the water heater inside. It even results in high gas or electric bills and might result in the early collapse of appliances with expensive replacement necessary.
- The soap scum is tough to remove and remain on the skin after bathing or showering. It even clogs the skin pores and coats the hair, and their residue can become the breeding base for most bacteria causing skin irritation and diaper rash.
- The hardness minerals might lead to unwanted taste in the cooked food like vegetables and may even cause extremely cloudy ice cubes.
Obtaining Information Regarding Water Hardness
At the municipal water supplies, call the water department or the local city government.
For obtaining additional information or data regarding the water supply, get the water tested via an expert laboratory. Such review might be microbiological, bacterial, or chemical basis the purpose.
Chemical analysis by laboratories reveals iron in the milligram/liter and hardness mineral in grains every milligram or gallon per liter.
In the case of a private well, ensure to contact the county extension agent. Consider taking a water sample for testing purposes and sending it to the state health department.
There even are numerous independent testing laboratories listed on the yellow page that can assist test the water. Also, independent water conditioning agencies too can test for water hardness (see also ‘How To Test Water Hardness: 6 Easy Hard Water Tests‘).
In the case of water supplied by private wells, homeowners must get tested to ensure the absence of bacteria annually. Ensure checking on with the local authorities to get the recommended tests and know their frequency.
Ways to Treat Hard Water
If your water test more than 1 GPG hard, make sure to treat it with the listed ways:
Chemical treatments use numerous detergents and various other elements to cover up or even hide the negative impact of the hard water.
Mechanical treatment usually physically eliminates hard minerals from water. One of the most common mechanical measures to soften the water is via an ion-exchange water softener.
The device uses an ion-exchange procedure for replacing hardness minerals present in water with a substance. A vast majority of the water softening device currently exchanges the hardness minerals for the sodium.
The procedure contains the flowing of hard water over a base of a plastic resin bead. Note that limited electric charges carry sodium ions on the surface of beads on every bead.
However, such beads have the potential to attract and hold hard minerals. As the hard water flows via a water softener, it passes on all sides of plastic beads. Hard ions or minerals in water have a higher attraction to beads than sodium on beads.
Thus, they efficiently attach themselves to beads and, in the procedure, displace sodium minerals or ions.
Water Heater Problems
Hard water in a home can aggressively wreak havoc in different places.
Any appliance, pipe, or even surface in a home where the hard water flows carry the risk of damage. The water heater is one such appliance, which is most affected due to hard water.
Cost and efficiency
Hard water reduces the water heating efficiency and even raises one’s operating expense. In a basic gas-powered heater, a set of burners from the bottom heats the water in the tank.
Minerals of hard water can solidify as limescale builds upon its base of the water heater tank. It forms a considerable layer between the water heater burners and the water inside the tank.
It then gets much tougher for burners to heat water. It lowers efficiency, enhances costs, and finally lowers the capacity of the tank.
In electric water heaters, limescale deposits on heat elements and at the tank’s bottom. Again, the hard water results in numerous issues in your household appliances.
Maintenance and Flushing
Draining the water does not eliminate all lime deposits in the water heater tank. For flushing the water heater, you should turn on the inlet valve.
Then it would be best if you connected the garden hose for the draining valve and then open the valve up. Force of incoming water removes a higher deposit of lime than just by draining off the tank.
Water heaters that utilize hard water will require flushing every three months. The time frame might differ based on the level of water hardness.
Water heaters operating with soft water usually do not require any flushing. In this case, for generic purposes, flushing off annually would be sufficient.
Installing Water Softener
A water softener works towards hard water treatment by eliminating the minerals responsible via a procedure known as ion exchange.
Mineral ions cause hardness and adverse damage to the home are considerably trapped by the resin in the system and exchanged for the potassium and sodium ions.
Pros of Home Water Softener
Soft water is deficient in mineral elements or ions, which causes the deposit in appliances or pipes that saves you from expensive repair bills. A mineral deposit in the pipe narrows the water area and moves through, which needs an increased pump pressure.
Also, it increases the energy level required to keep the water cold or hot. Deposits even wreak havoc on home appliances, which means they will incur higher frequent replacement costs or repair expenses for your laundry machines, dishwashers, water heaters, coffee machines, and ice makers.
Cleaner Hair and Softer Skin
Soft water can be considered advantageous for your skin and hair while showering or bathing. Mineral ions in the hard water fend off the water from being entirely soluble with the soaps, which precipitate in the form of soap scum.
As the soft water is deficient in minerals, houses with water softener relish deeper lather. Advantages of water softener on the skin go deeper than soap lather. Also, it can reduce the harsh impacts of hard water on the body, such as natural oil loss in skin and hair.
Brighter and Softer Clothes
Water softener wards off adverse impacts of hard water on clothes and make them incredibly soft to touch, and even preserves a new, fresh feel and look.
Those residing in hard water regions should know how tough it is to keep your dishes completely clean. Notwithstanding the times you clean off your dishes or detergents or soaps you use, the glass and silverware are entirely left with a cloudy look once they dry up.
Water softeners rid you of this issue from the root, eliminating the minerals they deposit on your dishes. Moreover, as soft water blends with detergent and soaps completely, there is an increased lather and more cleaning process in the dishwashing routine.
Reduced Cleaning Time
Those residing in houses with hard water should know how time-consuming the cleaning can get. You continuously reward dishes and do your laundry.
You might spend numerous hours in a week scrubbing the chalky lime and soap scum from the walls of the sinks, showers, and faucets. Utilizing water softener not just fends off the negative impact of the hard water.
Still, even it completely dissolves and penetrates the soap, lessens insoluble soap scum, and even curd accumulation in your washrooms. It saves the time you generally had spent cleaning daily.
Cons of Home Water Softener
If you are one of those on a low sodium food diet, you might have certain reservations regarding drinking soft water as their process involves sodium exchange.
The amount of sodium included in the water is entirely dependent on the water hardness level. It means the amount of sodium exchange increases if the water becomes harder.
Even after this, it adds up to a considerable amount. In one glass of soft water, an average of 12.5 mg sodium is included. Most other people question the requirement to eliminate magnesium and calcium from water if they are advantageous to your health.
However, the amount of such minerals ingested via hard water is highly insignificant compared to the time and money spent combating such negative impacts in the home. These minerals are prevalent in regular supplements, and leafy vegetables suggested for healthy diets.
Importance of Hard Water Treatment
As the minerals in the hard water travel via pipes (see also ‘Banging Water Pipes: Causes And Simple Fixes‘), they stick, forming scale deposits that eventually lead to pipe clogging.
An adequate composition of hard water can lead to irreversible plumbing damage, which indicates an expensive and time-consuming job at repair. One of the prudent ways towards hard water treatment is softening water before it has any chance of such buildup.
Using a water softener can fend off adverse impacts of the hard water of dishwashers and laundry appliances.
The buildup reduces the quality and efficiency because of the hard water composition; it also leads to a shorter lifespan of your essential machines such as ice makers, coffee machines, and water heaters.
Electric or Gas Bills
A water softener can reduce your electric or gas bill by warding off pipe damage. When the scale builds up in the pipe, there is space available for the water to move through the narrows.
As an outcome, the water pressure should enhance water efficiently to push through. Also, pipe narrowing causes failure to transfer heat, propelling you to run your water heater for compensation efficiently.
To summarize, hard water is not just harmful to health, but dealing with them in the house can also cause a great nuisance.
The hardness of water can be approximated with the home use testing kit or even measured accurately with lab water tests.