Hard water is tough, destructive, mean, and can wear down nearly every aspect of your daily home life. If you are a homeowner in America, you probably have it. According to statistics, it is in nearly 85 percent of homes in the United States. It can cost you 30 to 50 percent of your home appliances’ lifespans.
The high mineral content of hard water, and more specifically, high concentrations of iron, calcium, and magnesium, is the problem. As water evaporates, these minerals harden themselves onto items as mineral deposits. The constant contact with these materials creates the continual buildup.
The good news is that the causes of these rust stains and other damages are preventable.
Hard Water Basics
Before delving into the specifics of the types of damage and preventable measures when it comes to hard water, it’s important to first get a bit of background as to what it is, and how to identify it.
Hard water is water that contains substantial amounts of dissolved minerals. As water flows through rocks, limestone, and soil, it picks up these minerals. How the water travels through the ground before reaching your tap directly impacts the hardness of the water.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, softest waters are in the Pacific Northwest, parts of New England, the South Atlantic-Gulf states, and Hawaii. Moderately hard waters are common in many rivers of Alaska and Tennessee, in the Great Lakes region, and the Pacific Northwest.
Harder waters are measured in streams in Texas, New Mexico, Kansas, Arizona and Southern California. Specifically, if you live in any of these top five major cities: Indianapolis, IN; Las Vegas, NV; Minneapolis, MN; Phoenix, AZ; San Antonio, TX; or Tampa, FL you probably have hard water. These are the top five cities with hard water, but many places in the country share this problem.
To determine if you live in a zone with hard water, check out the reference map on the HomeWater101 website.
While the minerals haven’t proven harmful to your health, they can leave mineral deposits that make your water unsuitable. It also creates a nuisance for many of the water’s basic intended uses around your house.
Hard Water Home Impacts
From washing your clothes to personal grooming, hard water can wreak havoc on every day cleaning tasks. Glasses can dry with spots on them. You may see a film on glass shower doors, walls, bathtubs, sinks, faucets, and other spouts and basins. And, the amount of hardness in materials affects the amount of soap and detergent necessary for cleaning. This often dulls your clothing quickly. Your towels can also become scratchier.
Hard water can not only impact the appearance of your items, but also your looks. Your hair may feel sticky and look dull. Soap used in hard water can form a sticky soap curd left on the skin. The film might even prevent removal of soil and bacteria.
Hard water affects your plumbing by causing decreased flow rate and erosion due to pH levels. This negative impact extends to your appliances.
For example, according to statistics, hard water on average requires up to 29 percent more energy to heat your water over the life of a water heater. Appliances that require water, such as ice machines and coffee makers, are top casualties of hard water.
Besides the obvious signs of hard water damage, the best way to determine if a home has hard water is to test it. If your home is served by a municipal water system, you can ask the water supplier about the hardness level of the water. You can ask a water testing laboratory for a hardness test. Some even offer them for free. You can also consider purchasing a DIY testing kit from a laboratory.
Hard Water Solutions
Once you’ve determined that you have a hard water problem, the next step is solutions.
Short-term fixes including lemon juice, vinegar, and commercial cleaning products that help temporarily alleviate the actual problem at hand. But a water softener is the core solution to eliminating iron minerals.
Of homeowners in the United States who currently use hard water, only 30 percent use a water softener. A softener acts as a sponge absorbing hard minerals from water as well as clear water iron by using tiny resin beads.
There are two types of water softener units to choose from. The single-tank cabinet water softener is the compact, space-saving system containing both a brine and a resin tank. These “on-demand” single-tank softeners monitor how many gallons of water you use.
The twin-tank (dual-tank) water softener uses two resin tanks so if one is in use, the other can regenerate. This is ideal for large families who use a significant amount of water throughout the entire day.
As previously mentioned, hard water is not a health hazard, but dealing with it can be problematic.
By using an at-home testing kit, or asking your local municipality, you can determine if your water may be hard. Once you’ve determined the issue, water hardness can be managed with water softeners and/or a unit to better preserve the life of your household items, appliances, and your own personal appearance.
Do you live in a home that must deal with the issue of hard water? Any additional tips and tricks you would like to add that you do to help offset these issues? Feel free to leave your comment in the section below!
Or, reach out to a specialist today to discover why buying a new home means brand new, state-of-the-art appliances with hard water durability.