The phrase “hard water” refers to water that’s hard to lather because it has a high mineral content. By adding a softener or cation to your water before it enters your home plumbing system you can reduce mineral build-up on pipes, result in cleaner clothes, hair and skin, and lessen wear and tear on your appliances. Below are four signs that you need a water softener.
1) Stains in You Tub and Sinks
The build-up on your bathtub after water evaporates will have a greyish-white caste. This is an indicator that you have too many minerals in your water. Functionally, this is a basic mineral that is not only slowly building up on your bathtub, sink and faucets but also drying out your skin and hair. This mineral build-up is referred to as scale. Generally, if it’s grey or white, it’s calcium. If it has any green tones, it may be lime.
You can clean away these deposits by putting vinegar on them and wiping away the deposits before they harden. If the jets around your whirlpool tub get crusty with mineral deposits, add vinegar to the tub as it fills, let them run for fifteen minutes, then soak for an hour before draining the tub. Be aware that, if allowed to build up, these minerals can cause your jets to leak as they can’t close properly.
2) High Plumbing Bills
Calcium and limescale are less obstructive to copper and PVC but cling stubbornly to steel or iron pipes. This scale build-up will ultimately cause leaks and will reduce the flow of water into and out of your house.
This scale build-up damage will impact appliances all over your house. From your dishwasher to your washing machine and even your hot water heater, scale build-up will shorten the life of these tools and lessen their effectiveness. In addition to high plumbing bills, you may have to replace these items more often. Hard water can also lead to high water bills as scale reduces water pressure in your home.
3) Color Damage on Clothes and Dishes
Hard water functionally grays out your clothing. Whites become duller while bright colors fade. This clinging coat of minerals that won’t wash away can also make fabrics scratchy and uncomfortable. While detergents can be found that will lather or bubble up in your washing machine, they won’t rinse away as effectively when used in hard water.
Water stains will form on your dishes as well, from a dulling film on china or stoneware to drops on clear glass dishes. In addition, some users find that the abrasion of hot water can actually weaken the surface of the glass, increasing the risk of breakage.
4) Dry Skin and Hair
Hard water doesn’t lather well, particularly when working with bar soap. This often means that we use more soap than is necessary to get a silky lather build-up. Then, water with a high mineral content doesn’t do a great job of rinsing away all of that soap. This can lead to dry scalp, flaky skin and a condition known as hard water dermatitis.
This condition can be exacerbated by linens that don’t rinse fully. Functionally, your skin is exposed to surfaces that all carry a film of unrinsed product, from soap to conditioner to body wash, and this can irritate the skin and leave it feeling flaky and tight. Depending on the mineral content of your water, you may find that a very high mineral content can actually clog pores, leaving your skin ruddy and blood vessels inflamed.
Water hardness can vary across the country. If you notice scale on your faucets, sinks and tubs or if you constantly struggle with faded laundry and spotty dishes, it’s a good idea to get your water tested for mineral content.