A hard water area is an area that is rich in calcium and magnesium in the surrounding water table. Groundwater that has been filtered or seeped through the heavily mineral-infused earth denotes a hard water area. Common measurements classify a hard water area as any area that contains at least 61 milligrams of the mineral per liter of water. There are typically three different classifications for the level of hardness in any ground water: moderately hard, hard and very hard. Each of these classifications is derived by calculating the parts per million of the minerals that can be detected within the water source.
Hard water can lead to the premature failure of appliances, such as hot water heaters and boilers. For many property owners in hard water areas, the necessity to install water softener units is a requirement to avoid costly appliance and waterline repair and replacement. Waterlines in a hard water area are subject to scale buildup that can actually block off and close a waterline. Often, the only available option to repair this type of damage is to remove and replace the entire water supply line of a building. Other mechanisms, such as water faucets, drinking fountains and shower heads, must also be frequently replaced due to the scale buildup that can render the items useless.
One of the difficulties in living in a hard water area is the additional cost associated with normal daily activities. The minerals in hard water are responsible for the increased time necessary to boil or heat water for cooking or cleaning. An increased amount of soap or detergent is also required to create a lather or to properly clean. The cost associated with water softening products and conditioners can also be excessive in many hard water areas. Water filters and chemicals can be used to remove large amounts of sediment caused by severely hard water, while salt remains one of the most commonly used methods of creating soft water in a hard water area.
A benefit of living in a hard water area is the association between hard water and good heart health. Studies show that, worldwide, heart attacks and cases of heart-related death are less in areas that have naturally occurring hard water as compared to soft water areas. The minerals occurring in hard water are typically not harmful to most people, however, if ingested in large quantities, drinkers in severely hard water may feel a slight discomfort from both the smell and taste of the beverage.