FAQs About Hard Water In The Home

What is Hard Water?

Within rock and soil there are deposits (gathered patches) of limestone and chalk made up of calcium and magnesium carbonates, respectively. When water filters through these deposits, it ends up carrying a lot of natural minerals, most of which are calcium and magnesium. This mineral-rich water is called hard water and is usually not harmful to health. Even so, hard water is annoying to many homeowners there are several reasons for this. 

Why is Hard Water a Problem?

  • Those who are sensitive to taste might not like drinking hard water or tea made from the water.
  • Hard water prevents soap from lathering properly. Dishes may still look dirty after a run through the dishwater, and clothes won't be as clean after a cycle in the washer.
  • Some people are bothered by hard water's effects on their skin and hair. They report dry skin and hair with shampoo residue.
  • Thin films of white mineral can gather around faucets and in bathrooms due to hard water. 
  • It's possible that water pipes will be partly clogged or water flow will be lower thanks to the high mineral content.

Water Softening 

One solution to fix highly problematic hard water is to buy and install a water softener system. The system consists of a large tank that connects to water pipes and a brine tank connected to that. Hard water enters the tank through the pipes. Resin inside the tank attracts the mineral iron, making them stick behind, resulting in "soft water" that exits the tank and reenters the pipes. Salt from the brine tank serves to wash minerals off of the main tank resin so it can be used continuously. The average cost of a water softener is $3000 according to one source, and your water usage will increase, so be sure to weigh the pros and cons of water softening. 

Note on Iron Water 

Hard water could also refer to water that has collected iron. Iron water is also not harmful to health, unless the level of iron is so high that the the water is no longer clear and has a metallic taste. Specifically, if water takes on an orange or yellowish color, that probably means it contains too much iron. In such a case, you should call professional plumber and stick to drinking bottled water until the problem is sorted out. Most likely, iron water won't kill you, but it can cause pain and problems with bowels and stomach.