Handy tips for dealing with hard water

If your water has a high mineral content, it may be what is called "hard" water. Check out these tips to determine if there is hard water in your home, and find a softening solution today.

Handy tips for dealing with hard water

Four problems with hard water

  1. Soap lathers poorly and leaves a sticky film in hard water, which also can leave gray, curd-like deposits in your washing machine that irritates sensitive skin.
  2. Hard water also allows corrosive scale to build up inside the plumbing system.
  3. Water heaters, dishwashers and washing machines work less efficiently and wear out more quickly with hard water.
  4. Also, hard water often has an unpleasant taste.

An easy way to test for hard water

A simple test for hard water is to fill a jar with tap water and add a small amount of liquid dishwashing detergent. Screw the cap on tightly and shake.

  • The high mineral content in hard water will inhibit the formation of soapy suds and cause the bubbles that do form to dissolve quickly.

Adding a water softener

The antidote to hard water is a water softener, a treatment device that is connected to your water-supply pipe.

  • The softener captures excess minerals in a column of plastic resin beads. The beads are then bathed in a brine (salt water), which removes the minerals and flushes them away.
  • With automatic softeners, the resin is rinsed with salt at regular intervals. You can buy or rent a water softener.
  • In households where dietary salt is restricted, the water softener can be hooked up to only the hot water supply. That way, water used for cooking and drinking won't be salty.

Something to consider

A water softener will significantly reduce calcium, iron and other minerals, but other water problems call for other types of treatment.

  • Depending on the problem you have, you may want a device that treats all the water entering the house, or one that treats only drinking water at the kitchen sink.

Softener upkeep

The salt in a water softener, which carries away the offending minerals, such as magnesium and calcium, must be replaced periodically.

  • You can buy water softener salt at grocery and hardware stores, or from the company that installed your softener.
  • Pour the additional salt into the storage container as directed by the manufacturer.

Unclogging a water softener

If water is not being softened even though the salt container is full and the motor is operating, you may have a clog.

  • The two most likely spots are the brine line, and the injector and its screen. If your water has a high silt content, you may also need to clean the brine intake.
  • Remove it from the brine well inside the brine tank, and clean it with a toothbrush and running water.
  • Empty the brine tank and flush it with a hose before refilling it with salt.

Hard water is a problem that needs to be resolved as soon as possible. Keep these tips in mind, and find a solution that works.

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