Many homeowners are completely unaware that the water they’re using to bathe, wash clothes and clean dishes is full of the minerals magnesium and calcium. Water that contains ions from these minerals is referred to as ‘hard water,’ and using it in your home can result in damage to your pipes and appliances. Additionally, it can have negative effects on your skin and hair as well as the clothing and dishware that you’re using it to clean. The vast majority of residents of the United States live in an area where these minerals are prominent in the water. This occurs because after the water first falls as rain, its next step is flowing through the ground, which is where it accumulates these calcium and magnesium ions.

Symptoms of Hard Water in Your Home

If you’re uncertain whether or not your home is using hard water, there are test kits you can purchase and use to get a definitive result. However, there are also certain indicators you can be on the lookout for. If you’re noticing any of the following symptoms, it likely means your household could benefit from a water softener.

  • Watermarks on your faucets and dishes
  • Lime or chalk buildup in sinks and showers
  • Water tasting or smelling unusual
  • The colors of clothing fading fast
  • Dry or itchy skin after showers
  • Low water pressure

Effects on Your Skin and Hair

When you bathe in hard water or wash your hands with it, the presence of that calcium and magnesium will actually remove some of the natural oils from your skin. This can result in your skin becoming dry, itchy and irritated. The mineral ions also prevent the water from being as soluble when mixed with soap, which results in soap scum forming and an inability to achieve as deep a lather as you’d like during washing. However, when you’re cleaning your skin with water that has gone through a softening process, the skin is able to hold the moisture better. Not only do you get a deeper and more effective clean, but your skin should also be softer and more comfortable as a result.

The effects of hard water on your hair are equally negative. That natural oil within your skin is present in your hair as well, and it’s just as susceptible to being lost when you wash your hair with hard water. This regularly leads to hair becoming dry, frizzy and brittle. In some cases, it may even cause your hair color to dull over time. Washing your hair with softened water, on the other hand, will allow it to remain soft and look its best.

Effects on Your Plumbing and Appliances

One of the biggest problems with hard water is the fact that the mineral ions can cause scale buildup in your pipes and appliances. When that calcium and magnesium accumulate within your pipes, the space that your plumbing has to push water through gradually gets tighter and tighter. Once this happens, pumping pressure is forced to increase, which uses up more costly energy and puts more strain on your plumbing systems. This buildup of scale in the pipes can also lead to significantly decreased water pressure from your home’s faucets. If this accumulation of minerals goes unchecked for too long, there’s a high probability that you’ll find yourself stuck with costly plumbing repair bills.

The accumulation of these minerals can also be harmful to appliances such as dishwashing machines, clothes washing machines and water heaters. The composition of the mineral-rich water makes it more challenging for these appliances to work with, which results in them being less effective and efficient during operation. This extra wear and strain can result in the appliances having shorter overall lifespans, and that can even be the case for smaller appliances like coffee makers and ice machines.

Effects on Clothing and Dishes

No matter how thorough you are about cleaning your dishes, washing them with hard water will often result in streaks or a cloudy appearance being left behind. This is caused by the residue that the calcium and magnesium ions are creating, which is nearly impossible to eliminate with typical soap. However, if your water has gone through a softening system before it reaches your dishes, that residue buildup never can occur, and the softened water also creates a more powerful lather with your soap or detergent. As a result, your dishes come out of the wash looking spotless.

Hard water can be damaging to clothing as well. When your clothes washing machine uses hard water to clean your clothes, those same deposits of calcium and magnesium are going to be left behind. Over time, this can cause the colors of the clothing to fade, and in some cases, it can even make the whites look dingy or cause stains to appear. Alternatively, soft water will keep the color of your clothing intact and make your clothes softer to the touch as well. Plus, because the softened water has more ability to dissolve into the clothing, it also achieves a deeper and more effective clean.

The Water Softening Process

In many cases, water softening and filtration are combined into the same system as a means of producing the cleanest and healthiest water possible. Usually, this system consists of a tank with several different layers that the hard water will pass through. Typically, there’s one layer of active carbon, one layer of ion-exchange resin and one layer of special gravel.

When the hard water passes through the first layer, the carbon works to remove many of its contaminants. Next, the water passes through the ion-exchange resin, which is where the main part of the softening process occurs. When it moves through this layer, the resin essentially removes the ions of calcium and magnesium and exchanges them for other ions that are less problematic. Finally, the layer of gravel is there to catch any of the remaining contaminants that may have managed to hold on through the first two layers. Once the contaminants and minerals have been filtered out of the water, that water is not only cleaner but is also considered to be ‘soft.’

At Express Septic & Drain Cleaning, we are proud to provide quality septic and grease trap pumping services to the greater Nampa, ID, area. Ours is a locally owned and operated company, and we are available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, and 365 days per year to provide you with fast and reliable repair service when necessary. In addition to our septic and grease trap pumping services, we also offer quality baffle repair, riser installation, drain field replacement and enzyme treatment services. All of our technicians are licensed, bonded, insured and expertly trained to offer you quality service at competitive pricing.

We will do whatever possible to ensure that you have a comfortable and functional household. Give us a call at Express Septic & Drain Cleaning today to schedule an appointment with a friendly member of our team.

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