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Hard water and water softeners

What is hard water?

Hard water is water that contains a high concentration of dissolved minerals, primarily calcium and magnesium. These minerals are naturally present in the earth’s crust and can enter water sources through the absorption of groundwater as it flows through rocks and soil.

It can be found anywhere, but if you get your drinking water from a private well, versus a municipal source, then your chances of having large concentrations of both calcium and magnesium are quite high.

How is water hardness measured?

The hardness of water is typically measured in grains per gallon (GPG) or parts per million (PPM) of calcium carbonate (CaCO3). Water with a hardness level below 1 GPG is considered soft, while water with a hardness level above 7 GPG is generally classified as hard.

Hard water and water softeners

Is hard water bad?

The presence of calcium and magnesium minerals in water can cause several undesirable effects, including:

  1. Scale buildup: When water is heated or evaporates, the minerals can form a hard, white or off-white scale deposit on plumbing fixtures, pipes, appliances, and other surfaces. This scale buildup can restrict water flow, reduce the efficiency of water heaters, and clog pipes over time.
  2. Soap scum: Mineral rich water can react with soap, forming a sticky residue known as soap scum. Soap scum can be difficult to rinse off, leading to bathtub rings, dull-looking dishes, and a reduced lathering ability of soaps and detergents.
  3. Reduced cleaning effectiveness: The presence of minerals in water can interfere with the cleaning action of detergents and soaps, making it more challenging to achieve effective lathering and cleaning. This can result in laundry that appears dull and stiff, spots on dishes and glassware, and reduced effectiveness of household cleaners.
  4. Water spots: As water evaporates on surfaces, it can leave behind visible mineral spots or streaks. These spots are particularly noticeable on glassware, shower doors, and car exteriors.
  5. Reduced water appliance lifespan: The buildup of scale in water-using appliances, such as water heaters, dishwashers, and coffee makers, can reduce their efficiency and lifespan. Scale deposits can lead to increased energy consumption, clogging of pipes and valves, and the need for more frequent maintenance or repairs.

Water softeners

To mitigate the effects of high mineral concentrations, many households opt for water softening systems. Water softeners work by removing the calcium and magnesium ions through a process called ion exchange, replacing them with sodium or potassium ions. This helps prevent scale buildup, improves soap efficiency, and prolongs the lifespan of appliances.

If you’re curious about the hardness levels of your water or are interested in looking into water softener options, contact the experts at Doyle Home Services.

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