08 Nov What’s The Difference Between Hard Water and Soft Water?
It’s a plumber’s business to know water – hot water, cold water, waste water, fresh water, high and low pressure water – but what about hard and soft water? Whether the water flowing through your pipes is hard water or soft water can make a difference to your plumbing and the appliances in your home that use water, so it’s important to know the difference between hard and soft water, and be prepared for what the impact on your home might be.
WHAT IS HARD AND SOFT WATER
The difference between hard and soft water comes down to the mineral content in the water. Hard water is drawn from the ground and has a higher mineral content whereas soft water is mostly drawn from the surface and has a lower mineral content. Hard water originates from rainwater that has seeped through the ground collecting minerals such as sulfur, magnesium, calcium, and lime which become dissolved in the water. Hard water is commonly found in the water supply, including in the San Francisco Bay Area and greater Northern California.
What Effect Does Hard and Soft Water Have on My Home?
Because hard water is richer in minerals, it can be good to drink as the minerals make the water taste better and add essential nutrition to our daily intake. However hard water does have some drawbacks for our plumbing and appliances in our home because it can leave deposits known as scale or lime scale on surfaces that it is in contact with over a period of time.
Mineral scale can cause corrosion in pipes and build up inside appliances that use water, such as washing machines, dishwashers, and water heaters, causing them to function less effectively. Lime scale can not only cause a number of issues with your plumbing and appliances, it’s also unsightly. Hard water can cause water spots on dishes, soap scum in baths and showers and can even cause mineral build-up in hair and on skin when it’s used for bathing.
While midly hard water generally doesn’t cause a lot of issues, moderately or extremely hard water can cause problems with water flow, appliance function and can cause permanent damage to some plumbing fixtures and natural stone surfaces.
How Can I Tell If I Have Hard Water?
If you notice visible build-up of mineral scale around your home such as in sinks, water heaters or washing machines, it’s a sign that you have hard water. You may also notice soap scum in your sinks or shower, spots on your dishes or a dull quality to your freshly washed clothes, which can all be signs of water hardness. You can also receive professional testing for water hardness, or your local plumber may be able to advise you if the water in your area is known to be hard or not.
Hard Water and Your Plumbing
If you know your water supply consists of hard water, or you notice scale build-up in your plumbing or appliances, there are steps you can take to reduce the water hardness. Talk to your local plumber about installing a water softener to reduce the hardness of your water and minimising the effects on your pipes and appliances. It’s important to weigh the options for water softening systems and make the right choice for your home and family’s needs.
If you are worried about the hardness of your water or want to explore options for water softening, your local plumber is the ideal first stop to provide detailed advice on your water supply and recommend a range of options to match your needs, budget and preferences.