Hard vs. Soft Water: What You Need to Know
Water is a liquid, so it’s silly to think about it being hard or soft. But your water hardness affects your pipes, appliances, and even your skin. Florida, especially southern Florida, is prone to hard water. Knowing if your water is hard or soft can make a world of difference. Depending on where your water falls on the hardness scale, there are a lot of things you may need to do differently.
Hard water does not usually affect your health, but it may affect your daily routine. If you have hard water, you need to use more laundry detergent. But soft water needs much less thought. In many ways, soft water is preferable to hard water. While there are no health effects on humans, there are many effects on your home.
Crystal Clear Water is here to help you find out if you have hard or soft water. We can also help you deal with your hard water problem.
What Makes Water Hard or Soft
Water on its own is soft. The composition of water includes only three ingredients. Those ingredients are two atoms of hydrogen and one atom of oxygen. Both hydrogen and oxygen are gasses. When they combine, they form water. Water becomes hard when it passes over or through minerals. Water that runs over limestone is likely to collect minerals. Most often, the two minerals are calcium and magnesium. Limestone exists under the ground, under the water table.
Florida has a lot of limestone underground. This makes Florida homes prone to hard water. But water hardness varies a lot from place to place. Where the water comes from has a lot to do with its hardness. Water collected from groundwater reservoirs is more likely to have a higher hardness. Water that comes from rivers, streams, or lakes is usually soft. Most of the drinking water in Florida comes from groundwater.
How to Check Your Water Hardness
Crystal Clear Water offers water testing services. We run a full test on your water to look for chemicals and determine hardness. For an exact water composition test, results need to go out to our lab. The lab then tests for bacteria and viruses.
The Effects of Hard Water
There is a long list of clues that you have hard water. A lot of these symptoms are also signs of stress from your appliances and surfaces. The harder your water, the more signs there are. If you notice any of the signs below, you should call us for a water test. Not only can Crystal Clear Water let you know your water hardness, we test the quality, too.
Scale is mineral build-up. It is usually a white-ish or very pale yellow color. Scale build-up kind of looks like dried milk. It is most common in showers, pipes, and inside of any appliance that uses water a lot. Scale deposits in your pipes cause a decrease in water pressure. It also corrodes your pipes over time. Corroded pipes will eventually break, causing a leak.
Scale build-up is also common on shower walls and glass shower doors. Scale does not wipe off from surfaces easily. The longer it stays on whatever surface it is on, the harder it is to get off. That is because the build-up becomes thicker the more hard water exposure there is.
You can remove scale build-up with any acidic cleaner. There are many different commercial products for removing scale. But white vinegar or lemon juice works as well. Combine white vinegar or lemon juice with warm water. Let sit on the scale for about 30 minutes. Scrub clean and rinse.
It’s Hard to Lather Up
Have you noticed that it is difficult to get your soap to lather when you wash your hands? That is a big sign of hard water. The soap acts as a water softener. So when you try to wash your clothes, body, or dishes, the soap does not work. It is working too hard against the minerals in the water. Instead of cleaning, the soap combines with the minerals. This creates soap scum.
Soap scum is another hard to remove hard water problems. It takes a little extra elbow grease to remove soap scum from your surfaces. A good scrub brush and thick bleach spray go a long way to removing soap scum. You need a cleaner that can break through the minerals in the soap scum. White vinegar and lemon juice with a magic eraser is a good way to clean soap scum.
Are These Clothes Even Clean?
Hard water makes it hard for your detergent to do its job. So unless you use more detergent than you need, your clothes come out looking dirty. Whites shift into grays and colors fade. Your towels may also lose their absorbency. This is because the fabric is absorbing the minerals from the hard water. The detergent is also creating soap scum in your clothes.
Stains are harder to remove with hard water. The minerals from the hard water bond with the stain in your clothes. Because the detergent is not working at full capacity, it can not clean the stains.
Clothes with mineral and detergent build-up need stripping. Stripping is the process of removing the minerals and excess detergent. To strip your clothes and towels, you need something that cuts through the build-up. Again, acidic cleaners are good for this. Soak fabric in a white vinegar and water solution for 30 minutes to an hour. Wash as normal to remove remaining mineral build-up. Use a water softener or contact Crystal Clear Water to get soft water. Using soft water to clean your clothes prevents more mineral build-up from happening.
The Advantages of Soft Water
Soft water does not contain the amount of minerals that hard water does. Because of this, there is less chance of calcium or magnesium deposits in your pipes. That means your appliances will work better and last longer!
Soft water also means that you will need less detergent to get your clothes clean. Stains will also be easier to remove. That is because the detergent will not have to fight the minerals in the water. It will be able to directly attack the dirt causing the stain.
What to Do About Hard Water
By now, you can see that hard water is not what you want in your home. If you want to know for sure if you have hard water, call us at 239-214-0261. We will perform a full water test to look for contaminants and hardness.
The next step is to invest in water softeners. Our team at Crystal Clear Water Systems can help you find a water softener that works for you. We also recommend installing a reverse osmosis system. Not only does reverse osmosis remove contaminants, it can soften your water. It works by forcing the water through a very small filter. This keeps the dissolved minerals and chemicals on one side and the clean water on the other.
We offer two types of reverse osmosis systems. A whole-house system and an under the sink system. For hard water control, the whole house system is better. Hard water can wreck your water heater. And the under the sink system won’t help that.
85% of Americans have hard water. Hard water is definitely not something you want to contend with. It may not be a huge problem at first but it takes years off your appliances. If you notice any of the above signs of hard water, call us at 239-214-0261. Schedule your water test today!