Hard Water Effects on Your Home

Pure water is the universal solvent, it is tasteless, odorless, and colorless but as it makes its way through soil and rock, it dissolves minerals and holds them in solution. The main elements that cause hard water, calcium and magnesium, are essential for a healthy body. Most public water supplies and wells have a certain amount of these minerals. Excess amounts of calcium and magnesium in the water, in most instances, will not be absorbed by the body. They are simply flushed through the system with no ill effects. Unfortunately, the same is not true for household items such as plumbing & other surface materials where excess calcium and magnesium combine to form lime scale.

Determining Water Hardness

The Water Research Council classifies water supplies based on how many grains of hardness per gallon of water (gpg). Measurements by grain dates to the Bronze Age as a unit of measured mass roughly based on the mass of a single seed of wheat. The chart below lists the classifications used to determine water hardness or softness.

 Water hardness table

The softest waters are found in parts of New England, the South Atlantic-Gulf States, Pacific Northwest, and Hawaii. Moderately hard water is common in many rivers of Alaska and Tennessee, the Great Lakes region, and the Pacific Northwest. Hard and very hard water were found in some streams in most of the regions throughout the country. Hardest water (greater than 180 p.p.m. or over 10.5 grains per gallon) was measured in streams in Texas, New Mexico, Kansas, Arizona, and California. Information on how to find out about your communities water quality can be found thru your local water municipality or thru Water4 System website.

Nearly 85 percent of water in the U.S. is considered hard water, according to Virginia Tech.

2015-03-04 17.52.21 (2)Pipes

As hard water flows through pipes (more noticeably steel pipes), it leaves mineral deposits behind. Scaling will occur over a period of time and eventually lower water pressure throughout the house. When this happens, the pipes will need to be replaced.


2015-03-04 17.59.37 (2)Faucets

Scale builds quickly at points where water flow is restricted. Shower heads, faucets, and valves often become clogged even when no scaling is present in the pipes. Slowly, dripping faucets will leave hard-water stains on sinks and damage the surfaces of rubber washers. Lime buildup on the internal faucet mechanism can make replacing washers and valve stem packing difficult.

Valves (I2015-03-04 21.21.48 (2)ce makers – Dishwasher – Washing Machines)

Automatic valves found in icemakers, dishwashers, and washing machines are also subject to damage from mineral buildup. Even tiny amounts of scale can prevent these small valves from closing completely. This is a common cause for repeated repairs on otherwise reliable appliances.

2015-03-04 21.24.26 (2)Water Heaters

Mineral deposits form quickly on heating elements in electric water heaters. These act as an insulating barrier between the water and the heating element, reducing the efficiency of the water heater significantly. In gas water heaters, mineral deposits form at the bottom of the tank directly above the burner that heats the water. As with an electric water heater, these deposits form an insulating barrier between the water and heat source that reduces the heater’s efficiency which results in elevated heating cost. Draining and flushing a gas water heater regularly can partially mitigate the effects of hard water.

Kitchen Appliances

The heating elements of coffee and tea makers are also susceptible to mineral buildup. The time required for these to operate will increase as deposits around the elements increase. Any vessel regularly used to store and heat water, a teakettle for example, is also subject to scaling.

Kitchen & Bathroom Surface Materials

As hard water passes over surface materials it leaves mineral deposits behind attaching to most surfaces producing a crusty, scaly buildup that can become difficult or impossible to remove. Lime scale can eventually damage the finish surface on glass, shower enclosures, fixtures, marble and even granite. Removing the hardness mineral or minimizing the contact time between these materials and the hardness minerals is the critical deterrent to the corrosive effect of scale. The longer the contact time the higher the possibility for corrosion.

Dishware

Dishes, glassware, and silverware are extremely susceptible to hardness scale. It is the sole cause of etching, soap film, and dullness to these items. Mineral deposits will also develop on items to heat hard water, cooking pots, pans, kettles, tea pot, and coffee makers.

Laundry

Hard Water grays fabrics making them look dull and dingy, leaves them stiff and rough. Linens and clothes wear out quicker through the buildup of soap in the fibers. Hard water and soap do not mix as well as conditioned water and soap do so it takes a lot more soap to create suds, or in particular, a cleansing affect. Washing machines have a higher rate of repairs where hard water is present.

Bathing

Soap and Shampoo combined with minerals present in hard water leave a sticky film on skin. Using soap on the body in hard water can cause the formation of a soap scum. The formation of scum is caused when calcium and magnesium form insoluble salts with anions or in regular terms soap attaches and envelopes the hardness minerals in water making them less soluble. The scum remains on the skin even after rinsing, clogging pores and coating body hair. This can serve as a medium for bacterial growth, causing rashes, minor skin irritation and skin that looks dry and continually itches. That same effect happens when washing your hair in hard water; it tends to leave hair dull, lifeless and flat. Hard water can clog hair follicles which in turn block the growth of new hair and be a source for thinning hair.

Stop this from happening to you. Everyone understands a car needs to be serviced and the consequences if you choose not to perform those services. Now, compare the value of your car to what you have invested in your home; in 99.9% of the cases, there is no comparison your investment in your home wins hands down. Protect your investment; ask your Water4 System specialist for solutions.