Why Your Home Needs a Water Softener
The terms “hard water” and “soft water” are pretty commonly thrown around when discussing almost anything concerning the water in the home. The plumber may talk about the hard water when pipes are repaired. The appliance salesperson may even talk about the hard or soft water concerning a new dishwasher. Unfortunately, many people are unsure of their home’s water status.
Many homes across the country have hard water coming out of their pipes whether they use municipal or well water. This hard water can pose a variety of issues for homeowners. Fortunately, there are methods available for turning that hard water into soft water.
What is Hard Water?
Hard water is basically water that has high mineral content. When water is filtered to the well or through the system and piped to a home, it can pass through a variety of minerals that can be picked up by the water. Fortunately, these minerals can be removed with water softeners from Aquarius.
In general, hard water contains higher amounts of calcium or magnesium. However, hard water can also contain other minerals as it makes its way to the home. This can include bicarbonates, sulfates, iron oxides, iron carbonates, and other materials that collect in the water.
Hard water can be quite a nuisance for many homeowners. Not only can it cause damage to various aspects of the home and its appliances, but it can make the water unappealing to those wishing to use it for drinking or cooking. Some hard water can be discolored or even have a foul smell depending on the types of minerals dissolved in it.
How to Tell if It is Hard Water
In some cases, the appearance or smell of water can tip off a homeowner as to whether or not it is hard water. For example, water that comes out of the tap clear but turns brown after it sits may have iron deposits. It may even leave reddish-brown stains on the sink. Water with sulfur deposits may have a foul smell.
In general, however, hard water cannot be easily identified by simply looking at it. It can, however, leave behind lots of stains in the home. Reddish or brown stains in sinks or the toilet is a sign of hard water. A build-up of white, yellow, or even green around drains or faucets could be a major sign of minerals in the water.
Hard water can also make it difficult for soap to work properly. It can leave a film on the hands after washing or even seem like there is soap scum everywhere. The minerals in the water can make it hard for soap to lather properly and often cause homeowners to use more to clean properly.
Water spots can also be a sign of a hard water issue. These annoying spots can be found on everything from dishes and silverware to even the household laundry. Clothes may not come out as clean when washed in hard water.
There may also be issues of low water pressure due to mineral deposits in the pipes. The appliances that use water in the home may even seem to be less efficient than normal due to the hard water that can build up in the appliances. This can even cause them to wear out or break down more often.
Is Hard Water Safe?
In general, hard water is safe to drink. In fact, the calcium and magnesium deposits can have positive health benefits for its drinkers. Many individuals do not get enough of these minerals in their diet. Adding them through drinking water can help provide benefits to the cardiovascular system and possibly prevent various types of digestive system cancers.
However, the higher magnesium and calcium deposits in water have been shown to be contributing factors for those with childhood atopic dermatitis. There is also some research that suggests hard water could contribute to kidney stones.
Hard water could potentially cause dry skin and hair. Not only do the deposits cause drying, but it can also make it more difficult to completely remove the soap used while bathing. This can contribute to the dryness and itchiness one may feel on their skin or scalp after bathing.
There are other mineral deposits that could pose health risks. However, many of these are in such small amounts that they are not considered harmful. For homeowners that utilize municipal water, they can be confident in knowing that their water is tested regularly for harmful substances.
If the home is dependent on a well for its water supply, it may be a good idea to have the water tested to find out exactly which minerals are in the water. This can help ensure that any potentially harmful substances are within safe levels.
Damage Caused by Hard Water
Although hard water is relatively safe to drink, it may not be so good for the home. Hard water can be damaging to the entire plumbing system. The minerals can collect in pipes or around drains and cause discoloration or even damage to the pipes. This build-up can even prevent water from passing through the pipes.
Hard water can cause problems with the water heater. The minerals can collect in the tank and even corrode the inside of the tank, shortening the life of the appliance. Mineral deposits can even collect in the water heater. This can make it more difficult for the heater to work and use more energy to keep the water hot. This can increase energy costs.
The mineral deposits in hard water can put additional strain on any water appliance in the home. The minerals can corrode various parts of dish and clothes washers. This can cause them to break down more often. As the minerals build-up, it may even require more effort for the appliance to perform properly, using even more energy.
Homeowners with hard water may also find that they need to use much more soap than normal for all their cleaning. Dishes and laundry require extra soap to clean properly but still leave stains. This extra soap usage is not only costly, but it can even leave additional soap scum issues that require more cleaning.
Hard water can even cause damage to clothing. The hard water can leave behind stains on clothing. The minerals in the water can even cause the fabric to wear out quicker after repeated washings. This can increase the costs of maintaining clothing for the family.
What is a Water Softener?
Homes can choose to have a water softener added to their water lines to help lessen the nuisance and damage caused by hard water. These units can be attached directly to the incoming water line to provide soft water for the entire home.
Water softeners for the home are also referred to as ion exchange units. This is because they tend to remove calcium, magnesium, and other minerals by trapping them and exchanging those minerals for sodium or potassium. This is often done with the use of resin beads.
Some households may choose to only attach the water softener to the areas of the home that need soften water while allowing hard water to flow in other areas. For example, the appliances and showers may be attached to the softener while the kitchen sink is not to allow the hard water to be used for drinking.
Benefits of a Water Softener
A water softener will remove many of the nuisance problems caused by hard water. Immediately, homeowners will find that their clothes and dishes come out cleaner with less soap. This alone can be reason enough for many people to opt for a water softener. However, there are many more benefits this unit provides.
With the lower mineral content, homeowners can be confident in knowing that they will have fewer issues with pipes becoming clogged with mineral deposits. Water pressure will be better and there will be less staining or build up around faucets and drains.
Water heaters will be quieter. Anyone with hard water is aware of the pops and clanks that can come from a water heater that has mineral deposits inside. A water softener will eliminate much of the minerals that can cause these types of problems.
All water-related appliances will be able to run more efficiently without being bogged down by hard water. This will lower energy costs to run these appliances. In addition, homeowners should find that their appliances last longer without the damaging effects of hard water.
Things to Consider Before Installing a Water Softener
There are some things to keep in mind when planning to get a water softener for the home. The first is if the home’s water comes from a municipality supply, it is important to check to ensure that they are not already softening the water. Additional softening could promote corrosion issues for the home.
It is also a good idea to know the minerals in the water and how much there are. Different systems can remove different types of minerals. If the water has iron, copper, or other minerals, it is a good idea to find a system that can remove those things as well.
Since a water softener often depends on using sodium or potassium, those with high blood pressure issues may want to discuss the softener with their physician first. If it could pose a risk, homeowners could consider not attaching the unit to the drinking water or even look into a sodium-free unit.