What Is Hard Water, And What Kind Of Damage Can It Do?
Hard water is water that contains considerable amounts of minerals such as magnesium and calcium. It picks up these minerals as it passes through deposits in the ground, which is why it is a phenomenon that varies from location to location. Hard water is actually the most common type of water in United States homes. Natural soft water is very uncommon outside of the far northeastern and northwestern states, Hawaii and certain parts of the Eastern seaboard in the South.
It isn’t really dangerous to human health, but it does create a whole host of inconveniences. The dangers it poses are greater in terms of damage to pipes, fixtures and kitchenwares.
Hard Water And The Human Body
Hard water is mostly composed of calcium and magnesium, which are both dietary requirements of the human body, so there is nothing really dangerous about consuming it. Some people find it to be unpalatable, however, as the minerals can be detected in the taste of it in most cases. Hard water is also inappropriate for cooking certain recipes as it will throw off the flavor, and it can leave a noticeable film on the top of liquids such as coffee and tea.
This type of water can cause some minor skin irritations when bathing, as the minerals it leaves behind on the skin can cause it to dry out faster and also make it tougher to completely rinse off soap. Soap residue can cause irritation and also clog pores up, leading to pimple breakouts.
Similar damage can be done to the hair. Hair washed regularly in hard water is more prone to become dry, limp and tangled. The minerals can also collect on the scalp and create deposits that resemble dandruff flakes when they come loose.
Plumbing Concerns With Hard Water
Plumbing is the area where hard water has the greatest potential to cause serious and expensive damage. Over time, hard water leaves behind calcium deposits that are referred to as scale. As scale builds, it gradually restricts water flow and decreases the efficiency of these systems. This problem is most pronounced in steel pipes, but scale will accumulate over time in all types of pipes, even PVC. If a pipe becomes fully clogged, it cannot be cleaned out — it has to be entirely replaced, usually at great cost.
Scale buildup is especially hard on water heaters, reducing their efficiency and eventually causing components of the system to get too hot and permanently fail.
Kitchen and Fixture Issues Caused By Hard Water
Though the scale buildup in pipes occurs out of sight and out of mind until a problem crops up, you can readily see it in other places around the house. One of the most visible places is on shower heads and faucets, where it can restrict water flow if it gets bad enough. You can also see the residue in coffee makers or kettles.
Remember how we mentioned that minerals in the skin cause soap to cling to it more tightly? That same phenomenon happens in the bathroom and kitchen, leading to the buildup of soap scum. In spite of the fact that soap is present, this scum is actually hard to remove because the built-up scale is so resistant to being dislodged.
Glass rinsed in hard water may become cloudy and develop streaks that seemingly can’t be removed. Hard water can actually do permanent damage to glass by etching it, and this is often seen on glass shower doors that never seem to entirely get clean no matter what products or techniques are used.
Hard water may also cause laundry to be more scratchy and dull than you are used to. Over time, scale deposits around seals in both washing machines and dishwashers can also create leaks.
Fortunately, a complete water softening system is both affordable and painless to install. Contact us to learn more and to schedule a free water test for your home!