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Do You Have Hard Water?

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

You may have heard the term 'hard water' but many homeowners do not understand exactly what it is and even if they have this problem. According to the U.S. Geologic Survey, 85 percent of the homes in the United States have hard water.  While hard water is not considered to be unhealthy for people to drink, it can be damaging to household plumbing, water-using appliances and it can make it difficult to clean. Below are the basics of hard water, how to tell if you have it and what can be done about it.

 
What Is Hard Water?

Hard water contains calcium and magnesium and while this is quite natural, excessive amounts create what is commonly referred to as hard water. Hard water is not considered a serious health risk but people who are more prone to rashes and skin problems can have problems because it changes the skin’s pH and soap remains on the skin, clogging pores.

Ways To Tell If You Have Hard Water

The best way to tell whether water is hard or soft is the soapy factor. Soap and toothpaste do not lather up as quickly in hard water as it clogs skin pores and coats hair. The minerals in hard water can affect the ability of soap to clean kitchen and bath surfaces, dishware and laundry. Most homes have hard water problems without necessarily knowing about it.

Hard Water Solutions

If you suspect you have hard water, call a professional to test your water and recommend soft water solutions. The most common solution is to use a water softeners or water treatment systems. While many systems use salt, there are several water softeners available that have a salt free system. However if you are concerned about the presence of sodium ions in their water, use of sodium ions does not make the water noticeably salty or cause a significant increase in a person’s sodium intake. In fact, the FDA defines water that would result from softening 75 gpg hard water (where much more sodium ions would have to be exchanged that is typically the case) as a “low sodium” beverage.

There are many affordable solutions available for both purchase and for rent. If you are interested in a system for purchase, a typical household water softener costs around $1,000 to $1,500 with a monthly operating expense of around $2 to $8 if sodium is used. Many companies offer systems for rent with monthly costs ranging from $25-$85 depending on the model. Be sure to look for the WQA Gold Seal to find products that have been successfully tested to industry performance standards.

Problems With Hard Water? There Are Solutions!

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

Hard water is more common than most people may think; in fact, according to the U.S. Geologic Survey in the U.S. about 85 percent of the homes have hard water. You may have hard water problems and not necessarily know about it. Some ways to tell you may have hard water is if you are finding it difficult to get soap to form lather, you have to use alot of soap into the water to clean your dishes or if your dishwasher is just not getting the dishes clean. Some people also complain that they can feel like the soap leaves a film on their skin after showering.


What Is Hard Water And What Causes It?  

Water that is described as "hard" is high in dissolved minerals, specifically calcium and magnesium. When water moves through the soil small amounts of minerals are broken up and are held in the solution. The minerals that hold the most are magnesium and calcium and the how hard the water is depends on how much of these minerals is in the water.

Why Is Hard Water A Problem?

While hard water is not considered to be unhealthy for people to drink, people who have it are more prone to rashes and skin problems because it changes the skin's pH and soap remains on the skin, clogging pores.
Appliances that use water, such as dishwashers or washing machines are much less efficient when you are using hard water in the operation of them. This can translate to higher energy bills. If the hard water is heated it brings about a scale of magnesium and calcium which comes in the form of limestone deposits. These deposits can lead to less efficient water using appliances and sometimes can lead to the breakdown of them as well. If you suspect you have hard water, contact a professional in your area who will do the proper testing and recommend your best treatment options.

What Are The Advantages Of Soft Water?

• You will use less soap by using soft water, both in the shower and in the kitchen.
• You'll have less unsightly spots on dishes, and glassware and your knives and forks.
• Your heating bill will also be lowered because heating hard water in the water heater, causes hardness scale which plugs plumbing pipes and vessels and builds up on the inside of water heaters.
• Your plumbing will last longer. Hard water can cause a build up of scale from mineral deposits. Over time, pipes can clog, water flow can diminish, and water pressure can be reduced. This doesn't happen with soft water. Soft water is low in mineral content and therefore doesn't leave deposits in the pipes.
• Your skin and hair will look and feel better after bathing or showering. Scum from hard water clogs skin pores and coats hair.
• Clothes are softer, cleaner, brighter, and last longer
• Your food and beverages will taste better using soft water and ice cubes will sparkle more

Hard Water Solutions

If you suspect you have hard water, call a professional  to test your water and recommend soft water solutions.   Some solutions to correct hard water is either to filter the water by distillation or reverse osmosis to remove the calcium and magnesium, or to the most common solution is to use a water softener.
The idea behind a water softener is simple. The calcium and magnesium ions in the water are replaced with sodium ions. Since sodium does not precipitate out in pipes or react badly with soap, both of the problems of hard water are resolved.    A typical household water softener costs around $1,000 to $1,500 with a monthly operating expense of around $2 to $8 if sodium is used, and $3 to $15 if potassium is used. Look for the WQA Gold Seal to find products that have been successfully tested to industry performance standards. There are also options to rent water softeners if you do not want to purchase one.

Hard water waste can cost hundreds of dollars each year as it impacts laundry operations, your  water heater, efficiency, household cleaning, and the life expectancy of water-using appliances and plumbing. While hard water is not an emergency, the costs do adds up.  Click here to read more about hard water and how it affects you.

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Photo of Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, SRES, SFR Real Estate
Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, SRES, SFR
Iowa Realty
3521 Beaver Ave.
Des Moines IA 50310
515-240-2692
Fax: 515-453-6404
 

 

 

Licensed in the State of Iowa