Tired of hard water spots and scaly build up? Find a softer solution

Learn more about the signs that indicate your tap water might be too hard and the ways you can help to treat this issue.

Tired of hard water spots and scaly build up? Find a softer solution

What is hard water?

The term “hard water” refers to water that contains a high amount of dissolved mineral content.

  • When water falls from the sky as rain it is “soft” meaning it has a low amount of mineral content.
  • Once the water is absorbed by the earth, it travels through rock and soil where it dissolves and accumulates calcium and magnesium.
  • Before reaching your home, tap water is processed by your local municipality in order to remove mineral content and other impurities.
  • However, because calcium and magnesium are dissolved in the water, they usually cannot be removed, leaving your water with a high mineral content or “hard.”
  • Certain areas of the country will have higher contents of minerals in their water depending on the landscape.

Sometimes it’s difficult to recognize the signs of hard water. To help you out, here are some signs to look for:

  • Soap and sediment rings on water accessories
  • Soap does not foam very well or at all
  • White deposits in pipes and on plumbing fixtures
  • Scaly deposits in the bathroom, laundry room, water heater, kettles and glassware
  • Your hair, skin or clothes feel dry

Possible problems resulting from hard water

Though drinking hard water is not hazardous to your health, as calcium and magnesium are an important part of human dietary needs, hard water can be a nuisance in your home and have a negative impact on your appliances. Some of the problems hard water can cause include:

  • Complicating household cleaning chores by reducing the effectiveness of detergent and soap and can require as much as 60 per cent more soap.
  • Scaly buildup of minerals can reduce the energy efficiency of hot water heaters and in some cases can require 20 per cent more electricity to heat water.
  • Leaves film on dishes or residue on clothes when using dishwashers and washing machines.
  • Mineral build up on mechanical parts of dishwashers, washing machines and other appliances causing them to wear out faster.

Water softening systems

The most common option for treating hard water issues is installing a water softener system at your home.

  • These systems use an ion exchange process where water passes through a bed of softening material, usually sulfonated polystyrene beads that are saturated with sodium.
  • When water passes through this material, the calcium and magnesium attach themselves to the resin beads while the sodium in the resin beads is released into the water.
  • This process successfully replaces the calcium and magnesium with sodium.

Though the sodium is not usually enough to be a health concern, some people on low sodium diets may not be able to use this method to soften their water.

  • In this case, some softener systems will use potassium instead of sodium.
  • Another way to avoid an increased amount of sodium in your diet is to install a bypass around the softening system to the kitchen water supply you use for cooking and drinking.

Alternative options to treat hard water

If you’re not sure your home needs a water softening system, but you still want softer water, there are some companies that offer alternatives.

  • One such option is softened water delivery that allows you to pay for a service that regularly delivers softened water to your home.
  • Other companies have come up with various technologies as an alternative to the ion exchange softener system, where the calcium molecules are not removed from the water but are instead altered in order to keep them from building up in pipes, fixtures and appliances.

As any of these options are an important investment in your home, it is best to consider all the options before making a final decision on the method you choose to soften your water.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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