Hard water is at best a mixed blessing. The calcium and magnesium in hard water are good for health and make water taste good. Other than that, hard water is a scourge to plumbing pipes, water dependent appliances, dishes, clothes, skin and hair.
Hard water lays down limescale inside pipes and appliances when it evaporates. Limescale is a hard crust that is difficult to get rid of. Eventually it can become thick enough to lower water pressure and cause corrosion. It can shorten the lifespans of coffee makers, dishwashers, water heaters, ice makers and the pipes connected to the washing machine.
When a person washes in hard water they notice that they don’t lather up as well as they should, and the soap leaves a scum or curd on the skin and hair that is hard to rinse off. This is because the calcium and magnesium join with the soap to form salt that cannot be dissolved. Hard water can exacerbate skin problems such as eczema or dermatitis. Clothes that emerge from a washing machine filled with hard water look like they haven’t been washed at all, and hard water can etch and spot glassware and dishes.
A plumbing contractor such as Bedell Plumbing Inc. can remove hard water by installing a water softener. With a water softener, hard water passes into a tank full of resin beads or zeolites in a solution of salt water. When this happens, the calcium, magnesium and other hard minerals are exchanged for the sodium ions from the salt water. The water then flows to the fixtures or to the hot water heater. When the resin tank has exhausted its sodium ions, it needs to be recharged with more salt. This is also a job for a plumber.
Another way to treat hard water is by lime softening. In this process, limewater, or calcium hydroxide is added to the water to precipitate out calcium and magnesium ions. Limewater can also be used to remove contaminants such as arsenic, radium and iron from the water.
Reverse osmosis uses very fine filters to remove not only calcium and magnesium but many other contaminants from fresh water. Older RO systems were criticized because they wasted a great deal of water, but newer systems on the market waste less water while softening and cleaning the water.
A household no longer needs to live with dingy clothes and hair, appliances that break down before they should or spots on their glasses. Water softeners and filters are able to effectively and efficiently take the hard minerals out of water, either at the point of entry or the point of use.