We all learned in school that water (H2O) is comprised of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom, right? Many of us aren’t aware of how much other stuff gets into our tap water and creates “hard water” at home. Some of it is perfectly safe to consume, while other water contaminants can negatively impact your family’s health and cause many other problems throughout your home.
What is hard water?
Hard water is water that contains a high mineral count. Groundwater often percolates through limestone where it picks up calcium and magnesium deposits. Tap water can also contain trace minerals like iron, which gets picked up from the soil, lakes and rivers – even older, corroded plumbing. In some regions, hard water may also contain manganese or aluminum.
Calcium, magnesium and iron aren’t necessarily bad for you. In fact, they’re actually beneficial nutrients. However, hard water sediments can also carry potentially harmful bacteria along with them. A 2014 study found hard water scaling is directly responsible for bacterial growth in residential drinking water. The U.S. Geological Survey says 85% of homes in the nation have hard water.
Here are five additional problems hard water causes. Do any of them sound familiar?
1. Water Tastes and/or Smells Funny
A strange odor or taste is often one of the first clues you have a water conditioning problem. It’s a sure sign there is hard water or some sort of bacterial contaminant.
For instance, if your water has an unpleasant metallic taste, that’s probably too much iron. If your water smells like rotten eggs, that could be naturally occurring hydrogen sulfide gas or certain bacteria reacting with magnesium to form sulfates. Some people say their water tastes like dirt. That could be sediment (actual dirt), old pipes or algae. Algal blooms can also give tap water a moldy aftertaste.
No one likes to drink water with a funky smell or flavor. But that’s just the beginning of your problems.
2. Brown or Reddish Stains in Sinks and on Porcelain
Ugly brown or reddish stains on the porcelain are embarrassing and can be very hard to clean. You can blame hard water – specifically iron. It’s no coincidence those stains look a lot like rust spots.
The iron in your water could be coming from rusty pipes. Some people suggest using vinegar to help clean and remove them. Unfortunately, the stains will keep reappearing until you fix your hard water problem.
3. Clothes Aren’t Getting Clean
Hard water can have a negative impact on laundry – and once again – it’s all due to the rocky relationship minerals like calcium and magnesium have with soap and detergent. Soap is used to wash away dirt and grime, but when soap doesn’t get rinsed off, it can actually increase soil build up on your clothes. Clothes washed in hard water often appear dingy and wear out faster. It can even make your towels scratchy and rough.
When you have hard water, you may have to buy detergent formulated to soften the water for you. However, you’ll likely have to use more laundry detergent (and hotter water) to get your clothes clean. It’s even advised that people with hard water use four times as much detergent. Plus, just as iron stains your bathroom fixtures, it can stain your clothes.
Premature yellowing of your whites could be caused by iron content in the water. When combined with bleach, iron oxidizes, and iron oxide is another name for rust.
4. Your Family Has Skin Irritation Issues
Because washing in hard water will leave soap behind, it causes people’s skin to get dried out and itchy. Mineral deposits left on the body can also suck moisture right out of your skin.
The skin condition eczema is fairly common, especially among younger children. There is research indicating that bathing in hard water could cause eczema symptoms to worsen. Another study concluded exposure to hard water could increase the risk of developing eczema in young children.
5. Your Appliances Are Wearing Out Quickly
This might be the most expensive hard water problem of all. Those scale deposits can wreak havoc on many appliances in your home, from the dishwasher to the hot water heater. A build up of sediment in your water heater can make it far less efficient. The same goes for other appliances. Poor efficiency means bigger utility bills.
The icemaker in your fridge can stop working as scale deposits clog up valves. The American Water Works Association says hard water can cause a washing machine to wear out 30% faster than normal. It’s not difficult to see how hard water can cost you money in the long run. In fact, it’s estimated hard water expenses could cost you $800 or more every year.
How Water Conditioning Could Help
Each home can have different problems with water quality. Thankfully All Florida Soft Water has an answer to every one of them. With a water softener and/or reverse osmosis system you can eliminate troublesome minerals and potentially harmful contaminants.
Contact Dave by sending a brief message using our Contact Form and he’ll explain how easy it can be to get the safe, quality water your family deserves.