Does your water taste bad or leave white scale? Does your soap fail to suds up or do your appliances seem to break down far too often? If so, you might have hard water.
Hard water contains more minerals than your typical soft drinking water. These minerals will almost certainly affect the taste and quality of the water. Calcium and magnesium are the most common hard minerals found in drinking water, but iron and other minerals can also harden your water. While these minerals likely won’t threaten your health, most people prefer drinking soft, clean water.
Hard water can also ruin your pipes and will reduce the lifespan of any appliances that use water, such as your refrigerator or coffee machine. Fortunately, you can use a water softener to remove or at least greatly reduce the minerals found in your water. This will protect your house’s pipes and also increase your appliances’ lifespan.
How Water Softeners Work
So how do water softeners work? The calcium and magnesium ions found in water have a positive charge. Meanwhile, the water softener uses beads with a negative charge. These beads will attract and collect the positively charged mineral ions, thus eliminating them from the water supply. This is usually achieved through the use of sodium ions, which have no adverse health effects and are gentle on your appliances.
Water softeners also use a process called regeneration, which ensures a steady supply of sodium ions. This makes water softener systems easy to maintain. Calcium and magnesium will be regularly flushed from the system.
Some people simply ignore hard water. However, this could be a huge mistake. Let’s look at some of the adverse effects of hard water.
Don’t Let Hard Water Ruin Your Water Heater
Water heaters are prone to damage by hard water. That’s because hot water encourages calcium and magnesium to harden. As a result, minerals will build up quickly in water heaters and any appliance that uses hot water (such as a coffee machine).
The minerals will also build up on the heating elements themselves, reducing their effectiveness and lifespan. If you listen closely to a water heater suffering from a mineral build-up, you’ll often hear a “popping” sound. This is due to minerals building up on the heating element. As the heating element warms up, the minerals will expand and crack.
If you wash your clothes with hot or warm water, your washing machine is also particularly vulnerable to mineral buildup.
Hard Water Means Dirty Clothes & Dishes
In the long run, hard water can ruin your washing machine. Before your washing machine even breaks down, however, you’ll have to deal with dingy clothing that never seems to be clean. White clothing, such as undershirts, is particularly vulnerable to hard water.
Hard water also reduces the effectiveness of soap and prevents it from forming suds. You can use additional detergent to try to combat the hard water but, in the long run, your clothing will still suffer the effects of hard water.
Hard water can also shorten your dishwasher’s lifespan and dishes will often come with water spots or streaking. Who wants cloudy glassware?
Hard Water Makes Clean Showers Impossible
A long, hot shower after a hard day’s work can help you feel refreshed and clean. Unfortunately, hard water will leave your hair feeling brittle and may irritate your skin. Hard water will also reduce your soap’s effectiveness and could damage the shower’s piping and head.
Ultimately, Water Softeners Can Save Money
Water softeners are an investment. However, by protecting your home and appliances, a water softener can practically pay for itself. Your appliances will last longer, dishes will come out cleaner, and showers will be far more pleasant. Along the way, you’ll also enjoy cleaner, better-tasting water.