Kirk Young Redding Plumber

Tip from a Redding Plumber: A Homeowners Guide to Hard Water

Redding Plumber TipYou may think of the water running through the appliances in your house as just water, but have you considered whether it’s hard or soft? Hard water can be both a benefit and a liability to homeowners and the following article will discuss hard water and suggest some ways of dealing with it.

What is Hard Water?

First we need to establish what hard water is. Hard water is simply water that’s high in mineral content whereas soft water is relatively free of minerals. As water flows through the water cycle, falling as rain and making its way through earth, rock, reservoirs, piping and so forth it picks up minerals along the way, most commonly calcium and magnesium. These minerals remain in solution within the water all the way to the taps in your house.

Hard Water Disadvantages

Hard water has a number of disadvantages which mostly relate to the way it affects what it flows through or over. Hard water is very hard on the appliances through which it flows. Limescale build-up occurs when hard water is heated. Hard water leaves a scale of calcium and magnesium on pipes, faucets, laundry machines, water heaters, and so on. This is called limescale and it can interfere with the operation of appliances and machinery, essentially clogging them up.

Hard water tends to affect clothes when washed where colours can look dull and may have a scratchy feel to them. This is due not only to the calcium and magnesium finding its way into the clothes, but also to these minerals reacting with dirt on the clothes. Water may become harder after flowing over clothes as more dirt and minerals are introduced.

Dishes, pots and pans washed in hard water may end up filmy or spotted. People bathing in hard water may find a filmy residue on their skin. Hard water can also cause problems in solar heating equipment.

Advantages of Hard Water

The main advantage of hard water is the fact that the minerals it contains can contribute a small amount toward the recommended daily allowance of calcium and magnesium. These minerals are part of a balanced diet. It is worth noting though that they can also be gained, and in greater quantity, by eating the right foods and by supplements.

How to ‘soften’ Hard Water?

Given that hard water can be a real nuisance, it makes sense to ask how the problem can be dealt with. Luckily hard water can be softened. The following are some ways that water can be softened:

1. Electronic Water Conditioners

Hard water can be softened by electrical means. A limescale remover can be installed in a house’s plumbing that use electromagnetic fields to chemically alter the calcium and magnesium in water so its crystals change their shape and thus do not form the kind of scale that can be so problematic. The minerals wash out through the pipes, being unable to stick to them due to their new shape.

A popular electronic water conditioner called Scalewatcher can be easily and cheaply installed as a coil around the main intake pipe of a house’s plumbting system. As noted above the magnetic field alters the limescale crystals, allowing them to simply wash out with the rest of the waste water. The softened water then also dissolves more limescale, cleaning the house’s pipes as time passes.

2. Ion Exchange Units

Ion exchange units can be an effective means of softening water. These units introduce sodium into the water that exchanges ions with the calcium and magnesium. The end result is that these minerals are removed from the water.

3. Water Softening Agents

Water softening agents can be added by hand to laundry, dish, bath or other water to soften them. These agents contain compounds that interact with the water minerals in specific ways, making the water softer.