AHomeowner's Guide to Hard Water

Hard water can posea threat to your plumbing, appliances, and even linens. However, youmay not be able to tell if you have hard water just from bathing in,drinking, or washing with your home's water.

In this blog, we’llexplain what hard water is and how it causes plumbing problems. We’llalso list the most common signs of hard water to help you identifythis issue more easily and provide solutions for resolving hardwater.

What Is HardWater?

The term "hardwater" describes water that has a significant concentration oftrace minerals. The higher the concentration of minerals in yourwater, the harder it is. Hard water contains primarily calcium andmagnesium, but can potentially include other mineral particles.

These minerals enterthe water when it passes through chalk or limestone deposits.Homeowners who get their water from wells are more likely toexperience hard water, but hard water can come from virtually anysource.

Most hard waterminerals have little effect on your water's potability, appearance,or even taste. But, as we'll explain in the next section, justbecause hard water is drinkable doesn't mean you want it in yourhome.

Why Is Hard WaterUndesirable?

Generally, thecalcium, magnesium, and other trace minerals in hard water areundetectable to your eye or to your palate. Over time, however, hardwater can leave mineral deposits on any surface it comes in contactwith. For example, hard water can leave residue inside your pipesthat contributes to clogs by catching debris and letting the debrisbuild up in a single spot.

Hard water alsointeracts with cleaning products, your skin and hair, and thebelongings that you wash most frequently, like your dishes andclothes. Often, you can determine whether or not hard water ispresent by looking for telltale signs.

How Do You KnowIf You Have Hard Water?

Hard water,especially hard water with a particularly high mineral content, has apredictable effect on your home and body. If you have hard water, youwill likely notice a combination of the following signs:

  • Dull hair.Mineral and soap residues can leave your hair looking dull or evengreasy. In addition to the contents of hard water itself, theseminerals decrease the cleaning power of your shampoo, so you mayhave more trouble rinsing away oils.

  • Itchiness.Calcium and magnesium have a drying effect on the skin. Over time,you may notice that your skin feels rough, flaky, or frequentlyitchy.

  • Low amounts ofsoap lather.Hard water reduces the efficacy of cleaning products, from shampooto laundry detergent. This issue stems from the fact that soaps inhard water produce less lather, which makes both washing and rinsingless effective.

  • Low waterpressure. Aswe discussed in our blog "LowWater Pressure? 6 Causes to Blame,"mineral buildup can decrease the flow of water through your pipes,lowering your water pressure.

  • Rough or stifffabric.When you wash your towels, clothes, and sheets with hard water, theymay appear clean, but the fabric often retains a mineral residue.This residue can make the fabric feel scratchy or stiff.

  • Soap scum onbathroom surfaces.When soap lathers less effectively, it leaves behind more soap scum.This residue often looks like white film on your tub, showercurtain, or bathroom sink.

A professionalplumber can determine exactly how hard your water is by collectingsamples and testing the concentration of calcium, magnesium, andother hard water minerals in the sample.

How Do You TreatHard Water?

On a small scale,you can remove residue left by hard water using distilled vinegar. Onhard surfaces, such as your sink or tub, apply a solution of equalparts vinegar and water. Scrub the area to remove any spots, thenrinse thoroughly.

For fabrics, checkwith your washing machine manufacturer. If vinegar will not damagethe seals in your machine, add ½ cup of distilled vinegar to therinse cycle when you wash towels and other sturdy fabric. Avoid usingvinegar on brightly colored or delicate fabrics as the solution maydamage these items.

When you need hardwater treatment on a larger scale, talk to your plumber aboutinstalling a whole-home water softener or a water softener thattreats problem areas, like your laundry room. These softeners filteryour water as it enters your home, reducing the amount of mineralsleft in the liquid.

Use this informationto identify hard water in your home and protect yourself from anynegative effects.

If you suspect thatyour home has hard water and would like to schedule professionalwater content testing or invest in a watersoftener,work with C. B. Lucas Heating & Air Conditioning. In addition toour HVAC services, we offer expert services to keep the water in yourhome clean, clear, and easily available.