The Truth About Hard Water

Aug 15, 2017 | Plumbing Advice, Water Quality

Often people wonder where exactly their water comes from, what’s in it, and how it gets to their faucets. In actuality this is a complicated answer, as water comes from a myriad of sources; for something as simple as water, there is a lot going on behind the scenes that contributes to what ends up getting picked up as it makes its way to the sink.

What is Hard Water?

Hard water is named after the considerable amount of dissolved materials that find their way into the water source. Because water travels long distances and is known as a powerful solvent, it picks up all manner of itty bitty particles. Before it makes its way to wells and municipal water supplies, it picks up deposits from soil and rock. Primarily hard water picks up elements such as calcium, magnesium, iron, aluminum, zinc and sulfur.

In most cases, it’s best to limit the amount of these elements in drinking water as much as possible. Besides the potential health risks of consuming too many of these elements, it can also produce “off” tasting water.

Why is it Problematic?

Although hard water is a fairly common occurrence in American drinking water, it can cause several issues for homeowners. First, it’s destructive to piping. As the mineral deposits begin to attach themselves to the surfaces of pipes, it causes a buildup known as scale. As scale accumulates on the insides of the pipe walls, it can decrease water flow throughout the piping system. Eventually, increased friction and buildup will necessitate the need for repairs.

Second, these sorts of deposits also develop in hot water heaters, and make things difficult for the water heater to transfer heat to the stored water. This effect requires more energy to bypass the insulated layer of the heater to reach the water, which can rack up energy bill costs.

Third, hard water also makes it difficult for soap to foam, as the soap molecules don’t play well with the calcium molecules, therefore increasing the amount of soap that is required in order to begin the dissolving process which is needed for soap to work its cleaning magic.

Finally, hard water can also leave a white spotty residue on dishes and appliances even after they’ve been cleaned, and can reduce the life expectancy of clothing.

How Can I Fix It?

To fix the water heater problem, flushing the hot water heater every so often will ensure the scale buildup doesn’t continue to accumulate inside the heating fixture.

To keep pipes and other appliances clean, there are excellent salt-free water softeners available on the market. Having a softener that is low in sodium is easier on pipes, and doesn’t leave a slimy residue that is common in water softening products.

Vinegar is calcium’s worst enemy, and is extremely effective at tackling the amounts left behind from hard water. Running it through sinks, coffee pots, and dishwashers is a great way to remove the leftover buildup that is produced over time. Boiling water before using it also eliminates a lot of impurities.

Another method is to invest in a water softening unit. These units are typically referred to as ion exchange softeners and come in two different types. The sodium chloride version adds a tiny amount of sodium to the water, while the potassium chloride unit is an alternative to those who don’t want extra sodium in their drinking water.

It’s best to consult with our professionals about alternative options for dealing with hard water in your household.

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Jennifer Newsome
Jennifer Newsome
We had a leak in our basement on a Sunday evening and Narrow Path Plumbing sent out Terry ASAP! He quickly found the leak, repaired it, checked all faucets to ensure good pressure. He cleaned everything up and it was like he was never even here. I appreciate this company sending out someone late on a Sunday and also doing such a great, fast and professional job!! Great job Narrow Path Plumbing!!
Mad MO
Mad MO
Have used Narrow Path for multiple jobs on multiple properties. They have always been extremely informative, punctual, and reasonably priced. I highly recommend them.
Vicki Singer
Vicki Singer
Mike & Terry remodeled 2 of my bathrooms along with the drywall finisher and did a beautiful job. Had multiple leaky shut off valves replaced & a kitchen faucet replaced. Had lines run so I could move my laundry up out of my basement & poor Mike had to run wiring through my attic on a 90 degree day. I was so worried he would have a heat stroke but he never complained once. Also had a whole house filter replaced & a valve replaced on my hot water tank by another plumber whose name I can't remember but they all were polite and did professional work.
Michael Brice Keller
Michael Brice Keller
The whole team was great. Joe, Glenn, Justin, Mike and Terry. Thanks for an awesome new bathroom addition
David Brown
David Brown
Josh S cleaned a tankless hot water system, repaired two toilets, and unclogged a drain in a little over an hour. He was professional, listened carefully, and was very personable. We have never had a bad experience with Narrow Path, and we highly recommend them.
Patricia Mullins
Patricia Mullins
Toilet leaking from the tank. Not good 😪. Enter Tom and Drey. I love these guys. New toilet replaced and new shut off valve. Everything is perfect now. These guys are a 10 star team. Polite, professional, clean and neat. Same day service at a reasonable price. Can't beat them. Highly recommend. Give these boys a bonus!!