What’s the Deal with Hard Water?

Perhaps your plumber mentioned that you have hard water, or maybe you've just heard friends and neighbors chatting about it. Hard water is a frequently misunderstood concept. But understanding what the term means and what you need to do about hard water will help you make the smartest choices for your home and family. Read on to learn the basics.

What is hard water?

Hard water is water that contains a lot of dissolved calcium and magnesium. This may seem like a good thing since you need these minerals in your diet, but in reality, dissolved calcium and magnesium can deposit in your pipes and cause blockages, leading to low water pressure. Hard water also leaves mineral deposits in sinks and around faucets. The extra minerals even build up in and on your hair and skin, leaving you itchy and dry. 

How do you know if you have hard water?

While you can have a professional come test your water hardness, an easier way to determine if you have hard water is to just keep your eyes peeled for signs of hard water. If there are mineral deposits on your faucets, you have hard water. Other signs of hard water include excessive soap scum formation on your tub and shower floor, the need for excessive soap to form a lather, and mineral clogs in appliances like your coffee maker.

How can you fix hard water?

If your water is hard enough that it's causing problems, your plumber can install an appliance called a water softener in your home. This is an appliance that will be attached to the main water pipe leading into your home. All of the water that flows into your home will go through the water softener before proceeding through the pipes. In the water softener, the calcium and magnesium will be replaced with sodium—a mineral that does not cause such problems with deposits.

Water softeners are typically less expensive than people assume. You can find a good one for a few hundred dollars, which is certainly less than it costs to replace pipes and faucets that have become ruined by mineral deposits over the years. 

If you suspect you might have hard water, do not go on ignoring the problem. It will just cause greater issues down the road. Visit resources like http://www.thecleanplumbers.com to learn about the feasibility of installing a water softener in your home.