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What is Hard Water?

WHAT IS HARD WATER AND HOW DOES IT AFFECT YOU

What is "hard water"?
Hard water is probably the most common water problem found in the home. Water described as "hard" is high in dissolved minerals, specifically calcium and magnesium. As water moves through soil and rock, it dissolves very small amounts of minerals and holds them in solution. Calcium and magnesium dissolved in water are the two most common minerals that make water "hard". The degree of hardness becomes greater as the calcium and magnesium content increases. Hard water is not a health risk; in fact, its mineral content makes it healthy for your body. Hard water as defined by wikipedia is water that has high mineral content. This content usually consists of high levels of metal ions, mainly calcium (Ca) and magnesium (Mg) in the form of carbonates, but may include several other metals as well as bicarbonates and sulfates. Untreated hard water can leave the skin feeling dry; this is caused from the calcium and magnesium sticking to the skin.

What is hard water scale?
Untreated hard water can form scale when the calcium and magnesium precipitate out of the water and stick to things. Scale is not a good conductor of heat therefore the scale that forms on water heaters can cause the water heater to become inefficient. Scale can also stick to the inside of household plumbing reducing water flow and in some extreme cases stopping water flow completely. Untreated hard water reacts with soaps causing them to form a sticky scum, and reduces the effectiveness of the soaps ability to lather. Scale deposits forming on glassware, silverware are a sign of hard water. The most common complaint with hard water is white spotting on bath tubs, tile, glass shower doors and chrome fixtures. Scale inside the homes plumbing can also be a very costly issue if the proper steps are not taken to descale the pipes. Scale in plumbing can lead to replacement of existing plumbing in extreme cases.

What causes hard water to form scale deposits?
When scale forms, it forms because of calcium carbonate precipitating out of solution. When hard water is heated, the calcium carbonate can no longer stay dissolved and precipitates - or falls out of the water – as scale.

How come I do not see scale on my faucets when the water company tells me I have hard water?
Just having hard water doesn't mean you will have scale or even see the effects of the hardwater. Your waters pH level will make a big different as to whether you see any scale or not. If your pH is below 7.0 you will see little to no scale. If your pH is above 7.0, which most city water will be, you will see scaling from the hardness in your water.

Why do people get a softener if they see no scale and just need a filter?
Carbon filters will raise the pH of your water. As a result, the increase in your pH in some cases is enough to cause scale build up you didn't have before. As such, pairing a whole house filter to a whole house softener is often the best measure to keep your house free from the effects of contaminated hard water.

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Note:
Water softeners do not remove contaminants, such as chlorine, chloramines, THM's, VOC's, SOC's, they are designed to address hard water issues.
It is recommended that a whole house water filter be coupled with any water softener.


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