Hard water is water which contains a relatively high proportion of minerals, particularly calcium and magnesium, compared to the mineral content of most water. While hard water generally does not pose any serious health risks, it can cause a number of problems in the home. Hard water problems can be divided into two categories, those that affect water supply mechanisms and those that affect the ability to effectively clean and rinse oneself as well as items like dishes and laundry. Those experiencing hard water problems may be able to treat their water using a softener or a conditioner.
Among the most common hard water problems are issues which affect the mechanisms that supply water to one’s home. As hard water passes through pipes and hot water heaters, it gradually coats their inner surfaces with a deposit of minerals, sometimes known as scale. When a significant amount of scale builds up inside a hot water heater, the heater loses its ability to function efficiently, potentially causing one’s energy expenses to rise considerably. Mineral deposits within household pipe work can clog or even begin to corrode those pipes, which in turn can cause pipes to leak or burst.
Another set of common hard water problems relates to the fact that the high mineral content of this water impedes its ability to rinse away soaps, shampoos, and detergents. As a consequence, those bathing in hard water may find that their skin and hair remain coated with a thin, soapy film even after they have been rinsed thoroughly. Similarly, laundry detergent may not be fully rinsed from clothing cleaned in hard water even after a wash cycle has been completed, causing fabrics to retain a soiled feeling. Dishes which have been washed by hand in hard water may be coated with a layer of dish soap, and those washed in a dishwasher may appear spotted and grimy.
Those facing hard water problems in their home may be able to improve the quality of their water through the use of a softener or a conditioner. A water softener is a chemical treatment which reduces many of the negative effects of hard water through the addition of sodium to one’s water supply. Water conditioners are small devices that fit around household pipes and that send out electrical and magnetic signals intended to prevent the minerals found in hard water from solidifying and forming deposits.