Your family, your appliances, and your plumbing system are affected by your water. No matter if you have hard water or soft water, it’s important to understand the effects it has on our homes, and on us. The effects on your plumbing system and on yourself come down to what type of water you have flowing through your pipes. Although water is typically crystal clear, it contains varying levels of minerals and chemicals. The concentration of these certain minerals is what creates the “hardness” of water. Is one better than the other? Can you change what type of water you have? How do you determine the best water for your house, family, and plumbing system? As your preferred plumbing company in Chelsea, AL, Professor Plumb wants your home’s plumbing system to run its best and be the most beneficial to your family, so let’s take a look at some hard water vs. soft water effects. Hopefully, you’ll get some helpful answers and information along the way!
How can you tell if water is hard or soft?
You usually can’t tell whether it’s hard or soft just by looking at the water. Sometimes the feel of water and what it does to items in your dishwasher or washing machine can be a tip-off. Signs of hard water include:
- Spots on drinking glasses and silverware coming out of the dishwasher. These are usually calcium carbonate deposits.
- Mineral buildup on faucets, pipes, showerheads, and even toilets.
- Less water pressure in your home (more severe cases). Mineral deposits can form in the pipes and reduce water flow.
Signs of soft water include:
- Feeling a film on your hands during or after washing them. You may feel the need to rinse your hands longer, even though it won’t necessarily help.
- A nice lather when washing clothes, dishes, and even your hands and body.
- A slight sodium taste in drinking water.
Hard Water vs Soft Water: Which is Better For Us?
Let’s examine the major differences between hard versus soft water. As with almost anything in life, there are pros and cons for each.
- Hard Water
It’s somewhat untouched by chemical processes and is closer to rain water.
Pros: The inclusion of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and iron in hard water can be beneficial in fighting and preventing certain diseases. Beneficial for drinking and usually tastes better.
Cons: Can cause buildup in pipes, on faucets, on showerheads, and on our bodies. May shorten the lifespan of appliances.
- Soft Water
It’s much more gentle because many of the harder minerals have been replaced with sodium.
Pros: Soft water is kinder on appliances and us. Creates a nice lather for bathing and doing dishes. Better on appliances and may even extend their lifespan.
Cons: Some find that it has a slightly salty taste to it. The feeling of having residual soap on the hands or body is undesirable for some (the sensation is very short-lived).
Hard Water Effects On Your Plumbing System and Appliances
Hard water can affect your home’s plumbing system as it interacts with your appliances or pipes. If your appliances have failed well before their time, it could very well be because of hard water. While minerals like calcium and magnesium are good for healthy bones, they are not good news for appliances in your home (and you can get those minerals in other things you eat and drink). It can cause scale buildup which damages your water absorbing appliances, placing them at risk for unnecessary wear and tear. These vital appliances become less effective until they eventually stop working.
Water softeners remove hard minerals so that the treated water doesn’t leave behind that scaly buildup. In addition, when you have softened water you’re able to use less detergent, as well as run appliances at lower temperatures—preventing overtaxing your equipment.
Hard Water Effects on Our Bodies, Skin, Hair, and Nails
We use water to wash our hands, take showers, and bathe our children. Unfortunately, hard water can leave the same soap scum that you can see on glass shower doors and the tub, on our skin, hair, and nails. When our natural oils get trapped by mineral buildup, it causes dryness, skin blemishes, and even acne.
Many people who shower with hard water find that it affects their hair- it’s more coarse and doesn’t respond to styling as well. Hard water helps form a substance that sticks to your hair, kind of like that stubborn soap scum on the shower walls.
What Can You Do About Hard Water?
There are temporary solutions that include flushing and cleaning appliances and washing hair with clarifying shampoo, but for long lasting results consider installing a water softener. They remove minerals in your home’s water, softening your water for smooth, clear skin and silky, manageable hair (results vary depending on what products you use and your hair texture of course). A water softener prevents us from feeling the harsh effects of hard water and can help reduce topical skin troubles such as dryness and eczema. Of course soft water is not necessarily a cure for serious medical conditions.