Hard Water: A Common Plumbing Problem

Scale, the product of hard water slowly accumulates in everything it touches: your dishes, your skin, your pipes, dishwasher. One way to fix it is to install a softener.

Hard water is a common plumbing problem. Of all the problems to have in your house, hard water may not be the most severe; at least not all at once. Hard water is water that is carrying heavy amounts of calcium and magnesium. These minerals probably got in your water through the rock that the water has dissolved while waiting to be pumped into your house. What these minerals do is collect on every surface your water touches. This means all of your pipes, all of your cooking utensils, and your skin are all being coated regularly with these tiny rock sediments.

Only elbow grease will remove the scummy film due to hard water.
Only elbow grease will remove the scummy film due to hard water.

Hard water is first noticeable by the tough, white film that’s left on your pots and pans, but there are other symptoms. If hard water is getting in the way of your everyday routine, a plumbing expert can manage the problem immediately.

Scale And Grain

The remnants hard water leaves on your surfaces is called ‘scale.’ This for the same reason that any scales are called scales, it leaves layers of tough material on a surface. The hardness of water is measured in grains. A grain is just about 65 milligrams of sediment, which doesn’t mean much to the average home owner. What is worth knowing is that a measurement of 3.5 or more grains per gallon of water puts your home solidly in the hard water camp. This means that your house is at an increased risk of heavy sediment deposits in your machines and for damage to your skin.

Basic Hard Water Damage

Hard water will leave scale over your dishes. Soap does not clean off scale, only elbow grease will. In fact, hard water can make soap less able to produce suds, rendering the soap run off as a kind of scummy film. This of course only makes your dishes look worse, but it also affects your skin and your bathroom as you shower. You may begin to feel like you need to use more soap to get your body clean.

The soap you are using, however, is now simply smearing all over your shower and bathtub, leaving more hard-to-clean film. The scaling process also affects your pipes. This sediment can potentially build up until it stops water flow entirely in your home, but more likely it will at least build up enough to encourage clogs. This would mean you will have to have to replace your old pipes with new pipes throughout the house.

Utility Damage

The final straw is that hard water will also settle in machines like your water heater. This can decrease the water capacity in the water heater but it can also encourage deterioration in your water heater leading to leaks or other problems that can cost thousands. The same scale runs through your clothes and dish washers.

Dealing with hard water isn’t a very hard task to do. Any plumbing expert will know how to install a water softener, which could save you a lot of money in a very short amount of time. Water softeners are the longest used and most reliable method of handling hard water. There are many other options. For the best solution for your area, be sure to ask a professional.


hard water image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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