Hard water is a term used in describing water containing huge volumes of natural minerals. These minerals include magnesium, calcium, and different trace materials. While hard water does not affect your health, it can cause issues in appliances and plumbing. It is also considered a problem for homeowners. Knowing what hard water is and its effect on plumbing allows you to know how to deal with it when it becomes necessary.
What Causes Water to turn Hard?
When rainwater falls, it is pure as it comes down from the sky. But, it absorbs minerals as it flows into aquifers from the surface. These minerals are mainly magnesium and calcium. Due to this, soft water turns into hard water. The level of hardness of water depends on the amount of mineral the water absorbs. This hardness is measured in milligrams per liter or mg/L. It is also measured in grains of minerals per gallon or GPG. The US Geological Survey measures the hardness of water based on the amount of calcium carbonate in every liter of water. It later classifies this level of hardness as follows:
- 0 to 60 milligrams per liter— Soft water
- 61 to 120 milligrams per liter — Moderately hard water
- 121 to 180 milligrams per liter — Hard water
- 181 milligrams per liter and above — Very hard water
Issues caused by Hard Water
Hard water causes issues since it can react with cleaning products. It also causes soap to build up. Hard water can cause appliances and fixtures to wear down quickly. Soap scum is also produced when hard water reacts with soap. This prevents soap suds from forming.
Due to this, hard water needs more soap to become useful. Mineral buildup on clothing, dishes, fixtures, and skin and hair can cause issues after a period of time. The following are some issues in the household cased by hard water:
- Water flow is limited due to the buildup of scale inside water pipes
- Buildup of scale and film on fixtures and ceramic tiles.
- Issues in rinsing soap and shampoo off. This can make the hair or skin feel dull or dry.
- The life span of water heaters becomes shorter due to scale deposits.
- Dishes ad glasses washed in dishwater will have spots on them.
- Absence of suds make it difficult to wash clothes
- Wear and tear of clothing increases while they are washed
Effects of Hard Water on Plumbing
The buildup caused by hard water on sinks, faucets, tubs, and showers is just a part of the issue. Minerals from hard water can also build up in fixtures, appliances, and pipes. This buildup in places not easily visible in the home can cause a number of plumbing issues. These issues include clogs, lesser flow of water, and more stress on fixtures and water pipes. The minerals can also affect the efficiency of appliances. They can also wear them down faster. For instance, aside from heating water, water heaters will have to heat the mineral scale that built up inside the tank. In the end, hard water will have a negative effect on the efficiency of plumbing. It also causes more repairs after a period of time.
Hard Water Testing
When white scale builds up on plumbing fixtures, it indicates that hard water is present. You can test for the presence of hard water without using expensive gadgets. It only requires you to shake some dish soap and water inside a closed container.
If you do not see a good amount of suds in the solution, hard water may be present. To get better results, you should get in touch with your water provider. You can ask for the latest water testing report. A local lab can also test sample of water from your plumbing. You can also ask a company to test the water on site. Just make sure it does not cause any conflict of interest by letting a water softener company conduct the test. A water hardness test strip can also be a good option. You can buy these strips from a hardware store or a home center. Hold the strip under running water and check the result on a color gauge.
Hard Water Solutions
There are a number of water-conditioning products in the market. You can use these products to solve mild hard water. But, the best way to solve any hard water issues you are experiencing is to get a whole-house water softener. Getting a water softener system is perfect when water tests show a hardness level of more than 3 GPG. This is the best and most efficient way to solve a hard water issue.
How to Deal with Hard Water?
If you want to get soft water, you need to soften hard water. If your tap water is so hard, you can install a water softener to soften your water. If you need to buy a water softener, our reviews of best water softener reviews can help. Well, sometimes, you only would like to soften the hard water from the shower head, so you can choose to install a water softener showerhead. Sometimes, you only need to soften your drinking water from the water faucet, you can install a reverse osmosis system. Or you can use a water distiller to distilled water, so you can completely pure water.