According to U.S Geological Survey (USGS), Almost 90% of households in the United States have hard-water problems. While it poses no health concerns, it affects day-to-day household activities in several ways. It can make household appliances and pipes run less efficiently, leaving mineral deposits on sinks, toilet bowls, and drinking glasses.
When you notice cleaned dishes from a dishwasher having polka-dotted hazy white spots, laundry clothes feeling like sandpaper when touched, or seeing a chalky film on your kitchen sink, all these are classic signs you’re using hard water. If left unattended, the corroded pipes can leach off toxic metals and chemicals that’ll find their way into the water.
It’s therefore imperative to learn early enough how to deal with hard water and excellent water softeners you can use in your home. This way, you can alleviate various hard water nuisances.
What is Hard Water?
Hard water can be defined as the amount of calcium and magnesium mineral deposits present in water. The U.S Geological Survey (USGS) considers water with a hardness of 0-60 milligrams per liter of carbon carbonate soft water. 61-120 milligrams per liter of carbon carbonate is moderately hard, while anything more than 180 milligrams per liter of carbon carbonate is extremely high.
The gradual build-up of limestone on your pipes can cause low pressure and flows, which worsen over time. It can cause increased water bills or even reduce the lifespan of toilets. You’ll start to notice hard water issues when your household water is moderately or very hard.
There are evident signs that’ll help you know you’re using hard water in your household. Let’s get right into it.
Signs of Hard Water
You’ll probably tell whether or not your water is hard by just looking at it. However, there are various tip-offs you can notice that’ll make you know you’re using hard water.
How the water feels on your skin or what it does to items on your washing machine and dishwasher will give you a pretty good idea. Here are some telltale signs you’re using hard water in your household.
1. Film on your Hands After Washing
After washing with hard water, you can get a feeling of film on your hands. The film is caused by soap reacting with calcium, which foams soap scum.
It’ll make you rinse your water a few times to get rid of the film.
2. Spots Polka Dotted Hazy
The spots can appear on glasses and silverware cleaned in your dishwasher. These are usually deposits of calcium carbonate.
3. Mineral Stains
The mineral deposit will appear on your kitchen accessories. It will make them unusable fast due to the harshness of hard water.
4. Low Water Pressure
Gradually, mineral deposits will build up on your water pipes and will shrink the internal diameter of the pipes. which will cause low water flow in your kitchen sink.
What Causes Hard Water?
Water hardness is caused by dissolved minerals, which are largely magnesium and calcium. This happens majorly to underground water that flows through limestone, chalk, and gypsum, which are made of sulfates, bicarbonates, and carbonates.
There are two types of water hardness, including permanent and temporary hardness. Let’s look at how each type occurs in water.
1. Permanent Hardness
You can determine the permanent hardness of water through the concentration of multivalent cations in it, which are positively charged metallic complexes with a charge greater than one. These metal complexes enter the water supply by discharging from minerals in an aquifer.
Permanent hardness is quite hard to remove by boiling. Usually, it is caused by calcium sulfate/chloride or magnesium sulfate/chloride in water that doesn’t precipitate with increased temperatures. You can only remove permanent hardness with water softeners.
2. Temporary Hardness
When water has dissolved bicarbonate minerals, it causes temporary hardness. These minerals will dissolve to form calcium and magnesium carbonate, cations, and bicarbonates.
As the name suggests, it’s temporary, meaning you can reduce the hardness by either boiling or adding lime in a process known as lime softening.
Boiling will create the formation of carbonate from the bicarbonates, then precipitate calcium carbonate from the solution, which leaves the water soft when it cools.
Are you ready to learn how to treat hard water? Without further ado, let’s delve into it.
Ways to Deal with Hard Water
As stated earlier, hard water has devastating effects on water heaters, plumbing, dishwashers, and washing machines, among other home appliances.
Initially, you can use a special kitchen sink for hard water. Also, there are various ways you can successfully deal with and get rid of scale build-up in your pipes. Here are nine ways to fix hard water issues.
1. Whole Water Softener
The best way to treat hard water is through the water-softening process. Basically, it’s a filtration system that filters water and removes minerals that make water hard.
Once your water flows through the filter, it’ll pass through a bedding of resin that traps calcium and magnesium and replaces them with sodium ions.
In a process known as ion exchange which requires salt to operate properly – you’ll need a separate tank to hold the water softener salt, known as a brine tank.
Water from the brine tank goes through regeneration to carry sodium ions to the water softener tank for cleaning reasons and clearing out the hard minerals. The mineral will remain in the softener’s chamber.
The system will tackle hard water as soon as it reaches the main water supply. It will make every water outlet in your home produce softened water. It’s a huge investment but a worthy one since you’ll prevent hard water problems around your home.
2. Installing a Faucet Water Softener
You can opt for a faucet or under-sink water softener if you’re trying to cut costs while still trying to curb your hard water issues.
You can go for two options: sodium-based softeners or salt-free water softeners.
3. Sodium/Potassium Based Water Softeners
A majority of faucet water softeners use sodium or potassium as crystalline substances to suspend and hold a softening medium, usually in most cases resin, and would rely on ion exchange.
The process forces the mineral ions to swap with the softener’s chloride. This swapping results in hard water becoming soft.
4. Saltless Water Softener
You can also install a saltless water softener. It works differently from the above water softener of exchanging ions. Instead, it transforms the mineral ions into crystals. The crystallized minerals will become suspended in the water.
Therefore, when you install a saltless water softener, your water will still have calcium and magnesium minerals in them.
They will, however, not be able to attach themselves to the surface. The process helps to prevent scale build-up on your fixtures and plumbing water pipes. This system will not use salt but would turn calcium ions found in water into nanocrystals.
The crystallization will then suspend the calcium ions. They would, however, still remain in the water and won’t come in contact with any other substances on the surface.
Another simple way to fix hard water is by applying white vinegar to your water. Vinegar is acidic in nature, with a pH value of about 2.5, while calcium or magnesium minerals are alkaline.
Therefore, distilled white vinegar can neutralize these minerals in the water. The process will soften hard water naturally.
However, it’s imperative that you don’t go overboard while applying the vinegar to your water to avoid leaving that vinegar aftertaste on your drinking water.
Therefore, you should use vinegar as a water softener for cleaning. This can be done by soaking the scale build-up fixture in vinegar for at least an hour. You can also spray vinegar on surfaces and appliances to fix hard water in a house.
6. Hard Water Cleaning Agents
Usually, minerals in hard water react with washing soaps to form scum. A soap scum is a white build-up that rests on water fixtures. It tends to build up over time on drains, sinks, tiles, tubs, and shower doors.
The substance will occur when the minerals in water are positively charged, which prevents soap from dissolving, and in turn, the soap molecules attach and accumulate on the surface.
A good way of dealing with hard water side effects is by using hard water cleaning formulas. The products have certain chemicals that are able to convert hard water to soft water.
It ensures you have an easy time rinsing away soap, thereby preventing scum formation.
7. Washing Soda
While fixing hard water for laundry, you can use washing soda. The chemical product has carbonic acid salt that assists in softening temporary and permanent hard water. It works by basically removing dissolved calcium and magnesium in water.
When these minerals are removed from the water, it becomes soft water, ensuring that your water lathes easily with soap.
8. Magnetic Water Conditioner
Another solution to hard water is making use of magnetic water conditioners. They work by using magnetic fields to condition your water. It’s, however, important to note that this method is only suitable for households with moderately hard water.
The device will be connected to the main water supply line, which will alter the water impurities with its magnetic fields.
It works by separating mineral ions from each other, making sure that it becomes hard for them to stick together to form limescale on the surface.
However, the minerals will still be on your water, but in this case, they’ll drain rather than settle.
9. Boiling Temporary Hard Water
Temporary hard water consists of calcium bicarbonate. When you boil the water, it will precipitate the minerals dissolved out of the water.
After boiling, the water’s calcium will be removed, resulting in softened water. This is a cheap way of fixing hard water issues for consumption.
The only concern about this method is that it only works when it comes to temporary water. It doesn’t address permanent hardness as this water has calcium sulfate that boiling can’t remove.
Should You Continue with Hard Water?
As much as hard water benefits people who drink it and doesn’t cause any health problems, it has other underlying problems that could empty your pockets. A good example is that hard water contributes to dry hair and skin.
Bathing with hard water can alter your skin’s pH, weakening it as a protector and barrier to bacteria. Moreover, the scalp can become itchy when you wash your hair with hard water.
Apart from that, it interferes with the dissolution of soap in water, ensuring you use tons of soap to lather. Furthermore, the deposit build-up on water pipes reduces water flow and pressure, making it less efficient. Hard water can also corrode your metallic pipes.
Therefore, should you continue using hard water in your household? The answer is no! You must deal with it earlier on to avoid the above nuisance.
The above tips are the ultimate ways you can treat hard water in your house. Each method is different and can be incorporated depending on the hardness of the water. Using magnetic water conditions would be suitable in instances where you have moderately hard water.
If your water hardness exceeds 120 milligrams per liter, installing a faucet water softener or the whole water softener system for your household is best. Installing a water softener is the best way to deal with hard water; the best part about it is that these systems come with a lifetime warranty.
Therefore, if you’re wondering what to do for hard water? Then this piece will certainly answer your questions.
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