Few of us truly appreciate instant access to clean running water in our homes until there’s a problem. We need water to stay hydrated, and we need it in our homes to operate our sewage system and to clean the home. Water can either dissolve or suspend items. However, sometimes our potable water doesn’t work as it should, a fact that is noticeable when:
clean dishes are covered in spots
glasses look dull
shower water leaves a film on the tiles and shower doors
water-using appliance hoses and supply pipes are clogging up
your hair lacks lustre
your skin is dry
your clothes are discolored
These are all signs of hard water.
What is Hard Water?
When your water is underground, it tends to pick up bits of minerals from inside the pipes and from cracks in the plumbing. While it can become contaminated, it usually isn’t a big deal. However, if it picks up too much magnesium and calcium, it can affect the water’s ability to function properly in your home. Calcium and magnesium cause water to become hard, and hard water negatively affects how well your detergents and soaps do their job.
When soap comes into contact with hard water, it doesn’t dissolve properly, but instead combines with calcium and magnesium to create a sticky, coagulated mess. Since less soap is dissolved to create foam, you have to use more, but you simply can’t get rid of the insoluble mess sticks around – to your skin, hair, dishes and clothing. Dirt remains trapped in the fibers of your clothing, and forms a film on your shower and bath.
Mineral deposits inside your pipes can reduce the flow of the water to your faucets and water-using appliances. It can also hamper the efficiency and lifespan of your water heater as the scale builds up over time inside the pipes.
Water Softeners: How to Get Rid of Hard Water
The best way to end the problem of hard water, is to remove the magnesium and calcium from your water. There are some chemical treatments, but a water softener offers a more natural approach.
Generally, water softeners are mechanical appliances that are plumbed into your home’s water supply system. Most water softeners use the method of ion exchange to replace the minerals for sodium, or something else.
Water softeners use a mineral tank filled with polystyrene (zeolite or resin) beads, which carry a negative charge. Since magnesium and calcium in water carry positive charges, they will cling to the softener beads as the water flushes through the tank. The chemical reaction will cause the minerals to be driven off the beads. A separate brine tank creates a brine solution, using common salt.
The system uses a 3-phase regenerating system to ultimately flush the excess brine out of the tank and refill it with fresh water.
At Anta Plumbing, we are huge proponents of water softeners, not only for the facts stated above, but also because it enables you to use less soap and detergents, thus saving money and the environment. Most importantly though, hard water poses health risks, particularly if some of the pipes along the route contain lead. The miniscule amount of sodium in softened water poses no risk, and can actually benefit most people.