Understanding Hard Water, Its Potential For Causing Damage, And What You Can Do

Posted on: 10 September 2015

Hard water is a serious problem that impacts millions of homes across the country – one that creates a serious risk of damage if left untreated. That's why you need to know how to detect this problem and eliminate it from your home.

What is Hard Water?

Water hardness is determined by the concentration of dissolved calcium and magnesium: the higher the levels, the harder the water. These dissolved chemicals (known as calcium carbonate) are measured by the number of milligrams present in each liter of water.

Water with a concentration higher than 121 mg/L can be considered hard. Testing for this concentration requires purchasing a simple measuring kit. While these kits vary in operation, they generally require applying a small amount of water to a measuring paper and gauging its color. However, pill versions (that change the water various colors depending on its hardness) or electronic measuring kits are available.

How Does it Damage a Home?

Hard water is no laughing matter: it can cause more serious damage to a home than most people realize. First of all, it can cause mineral buildup in your pipes, which can seriously damage the structure of your pipes.

It can also cause damage to various home appliances, such as washing machines, dishwashers, showers, and even ice-makers. Water heaters and refrigerators may also be damaged, as well as any water dispersion system, such as shower and faucet heads and even valves.

And if a pipe bursts in your home or any type of flood occurs, the minerals contained in hard water may leave a sticky film across your home or even permanently damage electronic items.

What Indicates Hard Water?

Beyond investing in a testing kit, there are a variety of simple ways you can spot hard water. First of all, soap will be incredibly difficult to lather during showers, and your hair and skin may also feel slimy (as they are now thickly covered with calcium carbonate).

A white spotting or "powder" residue will often appear on dishes and other items washed in hard water. This residue will appear after you have dried the dishes or the water has evaporated. Hard water can even lead to stains on your clothing.

How Can I Treat Hard Water?

There are several different methods that you can use to clean hard water from your system. They include:

  • Chemical water softeners – chemicals added directly to water before use, such as a laundry additive.
  • Magnetic water conditioners – installed directly to your plumbing system to magnetically remove calcium ions.
  • Water filters – attaches directly to water output and filters out chemicals.
  • Permanent mechanical water softeners – installed directly to your water supply.

Installing these systems in your home can help eliminate severe hard water damage. However, if your home has already suffered from damage caused by hard water, you should call a water damage repair specialist as soon as possible.