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What is Hard Water and How Do You Know If You Have It?

Underside of a faucet, showing build up from hard water

Hard water is not dangerous or a health concern, but it is a nuisance. Hardness is caused by compounds of calcium and magnesium and a variety of other metals that are picked up and dissolved in water as it passes through soil and rock into the water supply. These dissolved minerals can be present in both municipal water supplies and well water.

Approximately 85% of homes in America have some degree of hard water. Without treatment, hard water can cost money and cause damage. Therefore, it’s important to know the signs of hard water before major problems develop.

Related Read: 6 Myths about Your Cincinnati Hot Water

Signs of Hard Water

As hard water infiltrates your home, it leaves small deposits behind. Over time, those deposits build up, and make it harder for water to move efficiently around your home. While you can’t see the pipes in your walls slowly narrowing, or see the film building inside your dishwasher, you can spot these signs of hard water:

  • Scaly buildup on faucets, like the picture above
  • Spots or residue on your dishes and glasses
  • Soap scum in sinks and bathtubs
  • Bathtub rings or spots on shower doors
  • Decreased foaming of soaps and cleaners
  • Dingy, yellowed or rough feeling clothes
  • Clothes that do not wear well and have to be replaced
  • Decreased water flow or clogged pipes
  • Increased cost to run appliances due to lower water flow

While you’re at it, check out the signs that your home’s water pressure is causing trouble.

What Can I Do About Hard Water?

Water hardness is easily tested. While kits may be available for the do-it-yourselfer, using a professional will give more reliable and consistent results. If your water is found to be hard, it can be treated.

The most common solution is to install a water softener. A water softener works by exchanging the positively charged minerals in the water with negatively charged minerals across a resin surface. The softer water will help reverse the effects seen from the hard water; reducing surface buildup, leaving dishes spot free and extending the life of clothes. You will find that everything is easier to clean, including you!

If you are not sure if you have a hard water problem but would like to find out, Schneller Knochelmann Plumbing, Heating & Air is here to help.

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