As plumbers, we are often asked, “should I have a water softener?” My answer is always, “If you can afford a water softener, you should have one.” Why? Because the water in 75% of the United States is extremely hard.
What is hard water?
Hard water is water that has high concentrations of dissolved minerals in it. The most common mineral is calcium, but magnesium, sulfur, and iron are also present. Hard water is not dangerous, but it does have a compounding negative affect on your plumbing and your body. Prolonged build up of calcium on your plumbing system is akin to cholesterol build up in your cardiovascular system. It can cause serious plumbing problems if left unchecked.
What does hard water do to your plumbing?
As plumbers, our major concern is how hard water affects your plumbing system. One of the most common issues customers ask us about is white spotting or staining on plumbing fixtures, dishes and glass wear. Calcium’s ability to adhere is the root of the problem. Calcium is dissolved in your water, and anything that has water running through it is susceptible to hard water staining. What is that white crust on your faucet and shower tile? It is more than likely hard water staining. Staining is even more evident where there are custom colored fixtures such as black ceramic, oil rubbed bronze, or brushed nickel finish. If you have colored fixtures, you really must have a water softener.
Spotting, however, is just the visible side of the problem. Hard water will also attack the plumbing that you cannot see. Over time, hardwater can build up inside your pipes, causing low water pressure throughout your home or business. It will also plug up faucet cartridges, toilet fill valves and trap ways. One of the most expensive problems caused by hard water is damage to the water heating system.
Dissolved minerals in the water are heated by the heating element or heat exchanger and become solid. The solid minerals then sink to the bottom of the water heater. This lowers the gallon capacity of the water heater as the solid material accumulates, causing the unit to heat more frequently. The excess workload causes premature failure of the water heater tank and elements, as well as a higher electric bill. This is even more critical in tankless water heaters. All tankless water heater manufactures require that the heat exchanger be flushed every year if hard water is present. This can be an expensive annual service call. If you have a tankless water heater, you must have a water softener for it to work properly.
How does hard water affect you?
If you have hard water you are using more soap and detergent to get clean, because hard water lathers poorly. Not such a big deal, one may think, but consider these related issues. Do you have dry skin or acne? Serious skin conditions such as dermatitis and eczema have been linked to hard water. High mineral content clogs pores and causes soap to wash poorly. One of the first things our customers say is that they feel like their skin is silky and soft after a water softener is installed. The silky feeling is your skins natural oil that the minerals in the hard water were robbing from you.
It has been said that hard water makes us look older due to its ability to dry out our skin and hair. Do you color your hair? Hard water also pulls the hair color from your hair. Often people with color treated hair believe that their hair color is making their hair brittle or damaged, when it is actually their water.
Getting rid of hard water.
The best thing about hard water is that it is easy to get rid of. In most cases, one can install a water softener and never have to deal with hard water again. The water conditioning market is varied. They now have units that can run Potassium rather than salt for those who are cautious of adding salt to their diet. However, one should be aware that, contrary to popular belief, a water softener does not greatly increase sodium levels in drinking water. Scotto’s Plumbing also offers units that use no salt and require no maintenance. Units do vary greatly in price and function, so it is best to consult a professional when determining which unit is best for you. Scotto's Plumbing will be able to test your water and speak with you about your water needs. We’ll help you determine which unit will best meet the demands of your home or business.
Call (727) 581-5828 for more information about our water softener services today!