Around 85% of American homes are supplied with hard water that contains elevated concentrations of dissolved minerals, including calcium, magnesium, and iron.  Although the presence of these minerals is not a threat to human health they have other negative effects in the home. In this article, we will take a closer look at hard water and how a water softener can fix the problem.

Why is Water Hard?

This is a natural phenomenon, water falls as rain on the ground, and from there, it either flows across the surface into a body of water or it seeps into the ground. In both cases, the water comes into contact with layers of sand, rock, and soil. These materials contain minerals and water is an effective solvent. So, the materials that water passes over or through are added to the makeup of the water. Hard water is measured on a scale from soft to very hard depending on the concentration of dissolved minerals. Hard water is a problem in homes that receive water from private wells and municipal water suppliers. The hardness is not removed at a water treatment plant and the homeowner is solely responsible for the hardness of their water supply.

What are the Negative Consequences?

First, it’s important to state that ingesting hard water is not considered to be a threat to health. That said, there are seven negative consequences that can affect the smooth running of a home. They are:

  1. The creation of bacteria ridden soap scum in sinks and tubs that’s hard to clean.
  2. The inhibition of soap suds which are needed to deliver the cleaning power in soaps, shampoos, and detergents.
  3. Spotting and streaking on glasses and dishware from the dishwasher.
  4. The formation of scale in plumbing pipes, fixtures, and water using appliances which degrade performance, efficiency and cause damage.
  5. Discolored fabrics after washing.
  6. Exacerbation of dry skin issues.
  7. Allergic reactions to minerals on the skin, hair, and brittle nails.

What is the Solution?

Adopting a short-term approach to hard water problems can only ever be a temporary measure. Although it is possible to clean away soap scum with considerable elbow grease and a stiff brush it will inevitably return until the underlying problem is fixed. So, the only lasting solution is to remove the hardness from the water to make it softer and easier to use.

How Does a Water Softener Work?

The most reliable water softeners use an ion-exchange process. The incoming water passed through a media tank filled with charged resin media. The mineral ions in the water are attracted to the resin which is coated with salt (sodium or potassium). The mineral ions stick to the resin surface and the salt ions are added to the water. The surface of the resin media is periodically flushed clean with a brine solution. This prevents the surfaces from becoming clogged with mineral ions and a fresh layer of salt is added to create the negative charge.

If you want to install a water softener system in your home, contact your local water treatment specialist.

By EcoWater Systems.
EcoWater Systems of Nebraska is the largest water treatment company in the state and is a member of Water Quality Association.