A lot of homeowners don’t really care that much about hard water until it starts affecting their plumbing and appliances. So if you’re wondering whether or not your home has hard water, there are a few telltale signs that may help you determine this.
Stay with us, and we’ll show you how.
Hard Water vs. Soft Water, Which One Is Better?
First, let’s discuss the difference between hard water and soft water.
Hard water, with its high concentrations of minerals such as calcium and magnesium, can be bad for the skin. In general, hard water is not a health risk, but it can cause the piping and appliances to become clogged with mineral deposits. It is generally safe to drink but can be a headache for plumbing fixtures, and it can even affect the taste of your drinking water. Not to mention making soap and detergents less effective. Additionally, hard water can have negative effects on the skin, causing dryness and irritation.
Soft water, on the other hand, is free of these minerals so it’s much easier on your plumbing and appliances. It is also considered to be better tasting than hard water. Soft water can help you combat dryness especially when the weather is cold.
Signs You Have Hard Water in Your Home
Now that you know the difference, let’s talk about how to tell if you have hard water.
Your Water Tastes or Smells Off
The first thing you can notice right off the bat is a strange taste or smell. Hard water typically has a different taste and can even have an unpleasant odor that might make you want to avoid drinking it.
You Notice Stains on Your Fixtures
Another indication of hard water is the presence of stains or discoloration on your fixtures. Since hard water has minerals that can leave deposits on your plumbing fixtures, having stains or hard water spots is a dead giveaway.
Repeated Clogging of Pipes
Again, since hard water has higher levels of minerals, these can accumulate in your pipes and cause clogging. Additionally, the mineral buildup can also make it difficult for you to get the hot water flowing. If it takes a while for the hot water to reach your faucets, then that could be a sign of hard water.
Soap and Detergents Aren’t Working as Well
If you are noticing that soaps and detergents are not lathering up or cleaning your clothing as well as they used to, then you could be dealing with hard water.
Skin Irritation Issues
While hard water is generally safe to drink, it can cause skin irritation problems that you may notice. This can be especially true if the hard water has a high level of chlorine. If your showering experience is leaving your skin feeling dry or itchy, then this could be an indication you have hard water.
How to Fix Hard Water in Your House
If you are sure that you have hard water, then it is time to look at the different solutions available for fixing this pesky problem. While a water softening system is the most common solution, there are some DIY home treatments that you can look into for a more temporary fix.
1. Vinegar Solution
As mentioned, hard water is high in calcium and magnesium. That means it is highly reactive to acidic substances. So one way you can try and reduce the hard water buildup in your pipes is to flush them with a vinegar solution. For your appliances, you can pour vinegar into the drain to help break down the minerals.
2. Lower Your Temperature
Not many people know this, but you can lower the temperature of your water heater to reduce the hard water buildup in your pipes. The mineral precipitation takes place when temperatures reach 140F or higher, so if you lower the temperature to 120F, you may be able to reduce the amount of minerals in your water.
3. Use Recommended Appliance Cleaners
Who’s guilty of cleaning their appliances with just regular soap and water? We’ve all been there, but unfortunately, that’s not enough to get rid of the mineral buildup.
Make sure you are using recommended cleaners for your appliances such as dishwasher detergents and washing machine cleaners. And as mentioned, vinegar can also be useful for cleaning the inside of your appliances.
4. Install a Water Softening System
For a more permanent solution, you can look into a water-softening system. This is a whole-home system that filters out the minerals from your hard water and leaves you with softer water for your home.
This system can also help prolong the life of your appliances, pipes, and fixtures. Expect to pay anywhere from $200 to $6,000 depending on the size of your home and the type of system you choose.
The Bottom Line
If you are noticing any of the signs listed above, then it is time to think about trying to fix your hard water problem. Depending on how serious the issue is, there are different solutions you can try. If you feel like a DIY solution will not be enough, then it might be time to look into a whole-house water softening system.
For any plumbing problems, feel free to contact us at P&L Plumbing. Our service area covers the entire East Valley, so we are sure to be able to help you out.