What Does Hard Water Do To Your Plumbing?
Drinking hard water is not especially bad for your health, but it can cause other problems that range from the mildly annoying to the expensive to deal with. But what is hard water? How do you know you have it, and how do you prevent it? Let’s take a look.
What is hard water?
Hard water is water that contains relatively high amounts of calcium, magnesium, and other trace minerals.
Although water is free of minerals when it falls as rain, it absorbs minerals almost immediately once it touches the ground or ground water; as it adds more minerals, it “hardens.” Water hardness is commonly measured in milligrams per liter (mg/L) or grains of mineral per gallon (GPG). The United States Geological Survey (USGS) measures water hardness as milligrams of calcium carbonate per liter of water and classifies hardness levels as follows:
- 0 to 60 mg/L: Soft
- 61 to 120 mg/L: Moderately hard
- 121 to 180 mg/L: Hard
- More than 181 mg/L: Very hard
Hard water problems
Hard water can be problematic because of how it reacts with everything from cleaning products and appliance pipes to your own hair and skin. Here are some of the common household problems related to hard water:
- Film buildup on ceramic tile and fixtures
- Difficulty rinsing off soap and shampoo completely, leaving skin or hair feeling dry
- Spots on glasses and dishes cleaned in dishwater
- Less effective clothes washing due to lack of suds
- Increased wear on clothing during washing
But by far the costliest consequences of hard water come when it interacts with home plumbing and appliances.
Once minerals build up inside pipes, fixtures, and appliances, they can cause problems ranging from reduced water flow and clogs to increased stress on pipes and fixtures. Scale (a coating of minerals) can also cause appliances (such as your water heater) to wear down faster.
Testing for Hard Water
If you see white scale buildup on your plumbing fixtures, you probably have hard water. Another inexpensive way to test is to shake up a small amount of dish soap and water in a closed container; if you don’t have many suds, you probably have hard water. For much more precise results you can have your water professionally tested.
Fixing a hard water problem
Although water conditioning products can help you to deal with mildly hard water, the best way to take care of the problem is to install a whole house water softening system. Water Softeners, also known as Ion Exchange Systems, change the chemistry of your water to reduce mineralization and prevent future hard water problems.
You can learn more about the water softening systems that FSi installs on our FSi Plumbing website.
Having a hard water problem in your western Massachusetts home? Call the water treatment pros at FSi! Contact us today for a FREE, no obligation estimate on a water softening system installation in western MA, or to learn about any of our other water treatment solutions!