Identifying Hard Water in Your Home
Water that has been treated with a water softener will perform better than water that remains hard. It will extend the life of your appliances. It will be better for your hair and skin. It will be easier on your home and your wallet.
Hard water is called “hard” because it contains ions of calcium and magnesium. These minerals, when left in the water, leave mineral residue in appliances, tubs, pipes, and anywhere else the water is present for extended periods or in high concentrations (such as laundry, dishes, etc.).
When a softener is installed to resolve the issues of hard water, those mineral ions are removed. Through a process called ion exchange (see “How Do I Get Rid of Hard Water?” below) the hardness present in water from the time it is drawn from the ground is removed by sodium ions (this is why you need to keep your water softener supplied with salt).
Is it Safe to Drink Hard Water?
Hard water is not a matter of health. In fact, research indicates that hard water contributes to our health with small amounts of calcium and other minerals. The hardness of water, instead, affects the taste and performance the water in your home.
How Do I Know if I Have Hard Water?
There are some easy signs of hard water that you can identify in your home. If you have one or more of the conditions below, you should contact a water treatment specialist who can address your water hardness issues with a custom solution.
How to Know if You Need a Water Softener
Some signs that you have hard water in your home:
- Soap Scum (built up on showers, fixtures, sinks)
- Stains (in toilets, showers, sinks, appliances)
- Dry, itchy skin
- Soap that doesn’t foam
- Chalky film or spots on dishes
- Laundry that is dry, scratchy, or faded
- Flat hair (from soap that doesn’t rinse out)
- Clogged pipes (which will affect water pressure)
How Do I Get Rid of Hard Water?
The short answer:
Buy a water softener.
The long answer (pulled from Water Doctors):
The most common way to soften water involves an ion-exchange process to replace hardness minerals in the water with another substance, such as sodium. Typically, water softeners are filled with beads of resin. Each bead of resin contains a slight electric charge which binds sodium ions to its surface. As hard water pours into the softener, it flows through the resin beads. The hardness minerals in the water have a stronger attraction to the beads than the sodium. Therefore, they attach themselves to the beads and displace the sodium ions. This is why the process is known as an ion exchange.
Eventually, the resin is coated in hardness ions and can no longer effectively soften the water. At this point, the softener will begin its “regeneration” cycle to cleanse the resin. In regeneration, a brine solution featuring an extreme concentration of sodium ions is delivered from the brine tank to the softener. The salty brine reverses the ion-exchange process to scrub the hardness from the resin before being flushed away, leaving the softener once again ready to remove calcium and magnesium ions from hard water.