8 Indicators That You Are Dealing with Hard Water
Whether you’ve just moved into a new house, or returned from a stay away, you may suddenly notice something slightly off about your water supply. Somehow your shower leaves you feeling sticky, a glass of water from the tap tastes icky, or your towels come out of the wash feeling prickly. Treating hard water issues early on can save not only your skin, but a great deal of hassle and cost in the long run.
Hard Water, Hard Life
Pure water from a virgin spring on a remote island consists of exactly two hydrogen and one oxygen atom, but the highly treated aqua flowing through man made pipes to your shower may contain a great many contaminants. Some of these are perfectly safe for consumption, while others can negatively impact both your health and the health of your home appliances.
Water is considered “hard” when the mineral balance is thrown off. Groundwater often filters through limestone, causing calcium and magnesium deposits to build. Your water may also be picking up elements from the soil, and even your plumbing system. Some water supplies include not only calcium and magnesium, but manganese, iron, and aluminum.
Not all of these minerals are bad, and in controlled amounts, can even offer some health benefits. The problem occurs when these elements carry with them potentially harmful bacteria. A study done in 2014 specifically linked hard water scaling to bacterial growth in residential drinking water.
Well water is not immune to the ill effects of hard water, and a U.S. Geological Survey says 85% of homes in America suffer hard water.
Let’s explore 8 common hard water issues you should be aware of.
- Odd Smell or “Funny” Flavor of Water
Clean water has an extremely mind to neutral odor, and a funny smell is a good indicator that what’s in your cup is not exactly spring-clean. The smell of sulfur, similar to eggs or a recently ignited match, or an unpleasant metallic flavor indicates a water condition issue.
A strong earthy, dirty, or moldy flavor could be the presence of sediment, algae, or deposits from old pipes.
While nobody enjoys an ice cold glass of egg-flavored water, this is only the tip of the iceberg, and often not enough to cause people to really evaluate their water supply.
- It (Doesn’t) All Come Out in The Wash
Red or brown stains on your clothing, dishes, and toilet bowl are often the result of iron deposits or rust leaching into your water from old pipes. With a great deal of elbow grease, vinegar, or harsh chemical solvents, you may be able to remove the stains—however they will always return until you solve your hard water problem.
- Soap Scum
Hard white spots appear as water evaporates and leaves behind calcium deposits. Soap reacts poorly with the deposits in hard water and leaves hard to clean soap scum on your dishes, sinks, and even your shower curtain. Aside from being unsightly, these areas can be a breeding ground for bacteria.
- Shower Down
If your shower leaves you feeling filmy, with hard to manage hair and dry, itchy skin, you can blame hard water. Mineral deposits in your shower head can ruin your water pressure, making it difficult to properly rinse the soap off of your hair and body. That soap that reacted poorly to the minerals in the water and caused soap scum on your shower door is doing the same to your hair and skin, making you feel grimier than when you stepped under the water.
- It’s Not the Pipes That Are Bad- Yet
Hard water can cause scale to build up in not only your shower heads, but in your pipes. As this scale becomes thicker, it constricts the flow of water and can lead to backups. Once the scale becomes thick enough, the only solution is an expensive call to your plumber.
Copper and PVC pipes are less susceptible to the damage, but older steel pipes are in for a costly repair.
- Dirty Laundry
If you didn’t like the way the minerals reacted with the soap on your skin, you aren’t going to be happy with how it affects your clothing, either.
You employ detergent to wash away dirt and slime on your laundry, but if your water can’t rinse that spent soap off of your clothes, you’re left with laundry that comes out dingy, scratchy, and rough. When your clothes never look or smell clean, you continue to add more detergent (the recommended dose of detergent skyrockets by 4 times for hard water users), use hotter water, and run more cycles. In addition to this added cost, it wears your clothing out much faster, and wastes your precious time.
Hard water is also the culprit in the yellowing of your favorite whites. Bleach combines with the iron in your water, causing oxidization. Iron Oxide is most commonly referred to as “Rust”.
- Irritated Skin
It’s possible that you don’t actually have sensitive skin, and only think you do because of constant hard water irritation. Hard water leaves mineral deposits on your skin, constantly draining the moisture. Soap left behind leaves you itchy and irritated.
If you are a sufferer of the common ailment known as eczema, or if you do have sensitive skin, a warm bath is often high on the list of remedies- but if you have hard water, you may just be making your condition worse. In fact, studies have shown that hard water exposure can even increase the risk of developing eczema in young children.
- Malfunctioning Appliances
Home appliances such as dishwashers, ice makers, and water heaters are expensive, and you may find yourself replacing them much more frequently than you had bargained for. Scale build-up causes poor function, increasing your utility bills, and eventually your entire system will break down under the wear and tear. The American Water Works Association states that homes with hard water report washing machines that wear out 30% faster than normal.
It’s easy to see how the cost can add up, and hard water causes an estimated $800 or more in household expenses per year.
Water Conditioning May Be Your Answer
There are a number of ways to treat the symptoms of hard water. You can pay a plumber, purchase new appliances more frequently, and run harsh chemicals through your system to break down some of the build-up, but there is really only one solution to the root of your problem: Install a water softener in your home.
Water softeners effectively remove calcium, magnesium, and iron from your water before it gets far enough into the system to wreak havoc. This stops the problem at the source. The up-front investment saves you not only money, but time and uncountable headaches.
You may also consider a water conditioner like the Reverse Osmosis System, which purifies and removes harmful contaminants from your water supply.
If you’re ready to put an end to hard water irritation, or if you have questions about your options, check out our product lines and find a water conditioning expert in your area today!