Hard Water – An Ounce of Prevention

When I was fourteen years old, I once thought to impress the cute girl that lived down the lane by doing a head first power dive off of a thirty foot cliff. That ill-gotten misadventure led to my first exposure to one type of ‘hard water’.  Later I discovered as a home owner that there is actually another variety of hard-water.  And while it will not likely result in a high speed impact leaving you smarting from head to toe, this other variety will surely leave your pocketbook feeling just as sore.

This ‘other’ hard-water isn’t likely to impress any girls so you certainly don’t want it in your sink, tub or water heater. Hard-water can leave bad stains on your fixtures and basins.  So just what is hard-water anyways? Hard-water is any water that contains mineral content such that buildup will occur over time. Most frequently this is the occurrence of calcium carbonate commonly referred to as ‘lime scale’.  These accumulations wreak havoc on the plumbing of business and residences alike. So how can you tell if you have hard-water before it’s too late? After all, knowing you have hard-water after you’ve absorbed the cost of replacing all of your fixtures, pipes and water heater won’t do you a lot of good. Fortunately there are a few basic indicators.

Identifying Hard Water:

  • Neighbors may complain about a strange taste to the tap water. Long time residences likely will consider it the norm. But people that have moved to your area from far away will likely notice it right away. ( assuming they don’t consume bottled water exclusively)
  • If you use a filtration system you will likely notice your filters need to be replace more frequently than you would reasonably expect.
  • Do you enjoy a bathtub full of suds? If you can’t get your water to bubble up the way you like it then you may have hard-water.
  • Try Boiling down a pan of water until dry. If you see a lot of buildup in the bottom you may be looking at hard-water deposits.
  • Remove the aerator of your sink faucet. Inspect it closely. This is the first place you are likely to see the initial signs of hard-water. Often it will appear as a crusted buildup on the mesh of the aerator.
  • Stains in the bathtub, sink or on dishes? These stains may be lime scale deposits.
  • The simplest path, that will remove some uncertainty from the process of identifying hard water; Call and ask you city water authority. If there is a hard water problem in your area, they will likely know plenty about it.


Dealing With Hard Water:

So what do you do about hard-water when you know you have it? To protect the plumbing in your home or business we recommend a water softener or a water conditioning solution. ‘Water softeners’ operate based on the principle of ‘Ion exchange’. This process is facilitated through the introduction of chemicals into the water. This method of hard water reduction utilizes the ‘softening process’ which removes the calcium contained in the calcium carbonate molecules and replaces it with sodium, resulting in molecules of sodium carbonate. The sodium carbonate compound doesn’t build up ‘lime scale’ or leave hard deposits as calcium carbonate tends to. Alternatively there are systems that ionize the calcium electromagnetically. This does not reduce the amount of calcium carbonate in the water. Rather, it alters the ability of that calcium based molecule to create crystal lattices. Electromagnetic ionization eliminates the ability of the calcium to ‘scale’ in your pipes, fixtures or dishes. The calcium then passes harmlessly out through your sewer system.

Hard water in your home is a ticking time bomb. The short term inconvenience of having visitors wrinkles their noses at the stains in your tub and basins will pale in comparison to the inconvenience, cost and hassle of tearing your walls apart to install new pipes. While a water softening solution may seem like an expense you don’t need, it’s considerably more desirable than the ‘wait and see approach’. Always go with a plumber you can trust. Do your research online. Check reviews and rip off reports to make certain the plumber you hire to fix your hard water problem will do it right. Don’t be lured in by the lowest price you can find to get the job done. Find the plumber with the highest ratings and best reviews from satisfied customers. You will find in the end that hiring someone that does the job without cutting corners will save you the most money in the long run.

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