Beginners Guide to Dealing with Hard Water
In the United States, hard water is on the list of most common quality problems with water. According to statistics, more than 80% of homeowners have to deal with the problem of hard water. Although hard water is not unhealthy, it may cause significant damage to your plumbing system and appliances. If you don't maintain your plumbing system, the hard water scale will continue to accumulator on exposed surfaces. This process will leave behind chalky deposits.
If you treat your tap water before drinking, you can protect your appliances against limescale. In this guide, we are going to give your a few tips that will help you get familiar with hard water treatment.
What is Hard Water?
Hard water is a type of water that is full of dissolved magnesium and calcium minerals. The higher the amount of these minerals, the harder you are drinking water will be.
Both magnesium and calcium are natural minerals found in the soils and rocks on our planet. We need these minerals in order to survive. Apart from soil and rocks, these minerals are also found in different types of foods, such as seeds, nuts, green vegetables, and dairy products, just to name a few.
Although a small quantity of these minerals is beneficial for our health, they may cause a lot of damage to our plumbing system and different domestic appliance.
You should try the hardness scale if you want to know about the hardness of your tap water. You can use a testing kit in order to test your tap water. The hardness of water is described in grains per gallon (GPG) or milligrams per liter (mg/L). You can use either of these measurement methods as both of them will give you the same result.
If your tap water has a hardness level of a maximum of 60 mg/L, it will be considered soft water. However, if the hardness level is between 61 and 120 mg/L, it will be considered moderately hard. Similarly, if the hardness level is over 180 mg/L, it will be considered very hard.
What Are the Effects of Hard Water?
If your tap water is hard water, you may have to deal with the following problems.
The scale buildup is one of the primary effects of hard water. You will notice deposits of limescale on your faucets, dishwasher, coffee pot, and showerhead. Generally, these posits are milky white and rough in texture. You may find it difficult to clean them.
There is a lot of calcium and magnesium in hard water. Generally, just like scale formation, these minerals can build up on your skin and hair. As a result, you will have to use more shampoo and soap to wash your hair and skin. Similarly, soap scum may cause brittle hair and dry skin.
Unlike soft water, hard water can make your clothes fade much faster. If you notice that your new clothes are fading after a few washes, chances are that you have hard water. Besides, if you wash your clothes with hard water, you may find that they have become scratchy after a few washes.
Increased Cleaning Requirements
Due to the deposits of hard water minerals, it will be more time-consuming to clean your bathroom. Besides, you may have to deal with the formation of soap scum on your showerhead, faucets, toilets, bathtubs, and sinks.
The scale build-up will be even more difficult to clean if you don't get it removed as soon as possible.
The removal of scale formation inside your plumbing system is not a piece of cake. The buildup of dissolved minerals inside your pipes requires that you replace the affected parts of your piping system. The formation of hard water slows down the flow of water. In some cases, it may cause leakage, cracks, and corrosion inside your pipes.
The magnesium and calcium deposits may appear in the form of white spots on your dishwasher and glasses. As a result, your dishwasher may become dirty and the deposits may not be easy to remove. In fact, you may find these deposits on your dishwasher even if your tap water is slightly hard.
What Are the Signs of Hard Water?
Now that you have read about the effects of hard water, we should go ahead and or read about some clear-cut signs of hard water. Given below are some of the common signs that you should look for.
Reduced Water Pressure
Over time, hard water may reduce water flow in your domestic pipelines. If you feel that your showers have reduced water pressure or the water pressure drops when you run more than one appliance simultaneously, you may have the problem of limescale formation.
Limescale deposits in your pipeline may reduce the flow of water in your plumbing system. So, this is a clear sign that you have to treat your tap water.
Bigger Energy Bills
Hard water may affect your water heaters as well. The formation of limescale may reduce the performance of your heaters. Basically, limescale deposits create a type of insulation between the heating elements and the water. As a result, your haters will take more time to heat up your water. As a result, your heating bills continue to rise.
Scum on your Skin
Soapy hard water will leave behind a strange layer of scum on your hands and arms. This happens due to a chemical reaction between water and soap. This layer is known as soap scum. Due to hard water, you will have to wash your hands longer.
Calcium deposits on your faucets, toilet tank, and the showerhead is a clear sign that your tap water is medium-hard. So, you may want to check these areas for any signs of visible deposits.
How can you Treat Hard Water?
You may not have a pleasant experience washing and cooking if you have hard water. Therefore, it is essential that you treat your tap water to reduce the hardness level. The good news is that you can turn your hard water into soft water. All you need to do is go for the best water filtration system to remove magnesium and calcium minerals.
And you cannot do it manually. For this purpose, you need to invest in a special system known as a water softener.
Hard Water Treatment Methods
Nowadays, you can choose from three types of water softeners. They are known as electromagnetic water descalers, salt-free water conditioners, and Ion exchange water softeners. Let's talk about each of these systems.
Ion Exchange Water Softener
If you are looking for a conventional water softener, you can go for an Ion exchange water softener. These devices consist of two types of tanks: a resin tank and a sodium tank. Also, when water goes through an Ion exchange water softener, this system turns hardness mineral ions into sodium ions.
For long-term operation, frequent regeneration is required for a salt-based water softener. Eventually, the resin becomes full of magnesium and calcium mineral ions because of Ion exchange. In this case, the system will flush and remove these minerals and replace them with sodium ions.
Since Ion exchange water softener read water using sodium ions, you have to top up the tanks with sodium on a weekly basis.
Although these systems require frequent maintenance, you can rest assured that these devices work efficiently. If you want to test the performance of your water softener, you can use a water hardness kit. The cost of these water testing kits is around $800. Although you can invest more money and go for better kits.
If you have a large home, you may need to invest in a large water softener. They come with bigger tanks and higher pressure. Therefore, these water softeners come with a higher price tag.
Salt-Free Water Conditioner
Nowadays, salt-free water conditioners are quite popular. Therefore, if you don't like salt-based water softeners, you can go for this alternative. These water softeners come with a single tank that uses conditioner media for water treatment.
It is essential to keep in mind that a salt-free water plant does not produce soft water. In fact, these water filters change the composition of mineral ions. As a result, they don't stick to the surface of your plumbing system. Therefore, they prevent the problem of scale formation.
TAC is one of the most reliable salt-free water softeners. It is short for template-assisted crystallization. This process creates microscopic crystals that change the composition of these minerals.
A salt-free water softener will not remove hardness minerals from your tap water. However, there will be no signs of scale inside your plumbing system. Many people go for salt-free water conditioners as they want to retain healthy minerals but still prevent the formation of scale.
Springwell futuresoft water conditioner
Water conditioners don't involve the process of regeneration, which is another great advantage of these systems. But the downside is that you cannot test this type of water to make sure the filter is working as claimed.
The price of water conditioners falls in the same range as water softeners. Again, the price of these units depends on a lot of factors, such as the size of the system. Generally, the price of these units can start from $1,200 and go up to $2,500.
Electromagnetic Water Descaler
Electromagnetic water descalers is another type of water treatment system. Compared to traditional water softeners, you will find that these units have a pair of magnets instead of tanks. The magnetic field created by these magnets changes the composition of hardness minerals.
Keep in mind that these units cannot reduce the hardness level of your tap water. But they can help prevent scale formation.
However, this technology is still undergoing a lot of tests. Therefore, we cannot say that they can produce your desired results. In other words, if you are using these units, you cannot run the same tests to check the hardness level of your water.
The only way to tell that the system is working is to find out if there is a reduction in the formation of scale. However, a lack of evidence does not mean that these systems don't work. Therefore, you may want to read customer reviews and consider other people's experiences to see every system work properly.
The price of these systems is between $200 and $600. Therefore, if you are looking for an affordable system, you can try out these devices.