What Can You Do About Hard Water?
Many areas in the United Kingdom are affected by hard water problems. Hard water is water that is abundant in dissolved mineral deposits. When calcium and magnesium ions dissolve in water, hard water is formed.
Despite the healing properties of mineral-rich springs, hard water does not enjoy the same popularity in households. When hard water is heated or left to stand, dissolved calcium and magnesium ions solidify as moisture evaporates. This leads to limescale formation, which has many unwanted side-effects.
Once limescale builds up, it becomes very difficult to remove, which is why hard water problems are always easier to prevent than to later deal with its consequences.
Continue reading our article to learn about the damage hard water can cause, and how to prevent it.
Harmful Effects of Hard Water
According to some estimates, in areas with hard water as much as 70 kg of limescale per year is produced in an average household of 4 people. This translates into a lot of issues including energy inefficiencies and appliance breakdowns.
Here’s a list of the most common problems caused by hard water:
Stains and Clogging Issues
Limescale will cause staining on your taps, it will build up in your showerhead to the point where it decreases water pressure, and becomes extremely difficult to remove.
Hard surfaces are not the only ones affected by hard water and mineral deposits, your clothes can also become damaged.
Because detergents become inefficient in hard water, your clothes will not get cleaned properly resulting in increased detergent usage.
When minerals interact with detergents, they form soap scum that sticks to fabrics giving them a harsh and stiff texture. White clothes will become grey or stained, while coloured clothes will lose their brightness.
Heating elements coated in limescale can become less effective, causing you to waste more energy. Whether it’s your water heater or electric shower that’s affected, lime-scale build-up will lead to energy inefficiencies.
No home appliance is safe when it comes to lime-scale build-up. Your washing machine, dishwasher or water heater may break down and you may have to spend more money on repairs or replacements.
Skin Irritation Issues
Since hard water is not gentle on your appliances, it won’t be gentle on your hair and skin either. Bathing in hard water will dry your hair and skin out, causing possible skin irritations or flare-ups in pre-existing skin conditions.
Is Hard Water Safe to Drink?
Even though hard water is disliked for its taste, it’s not believed to have adverse health effects. If anything, the minerals in hard water are considered to be beneficial to your health.
In fact, studies have found a positive correlation between consuming water rich in minerals and preventing many modern life diseases like cardiovascular diseases.
Also Read: Is Mineral Water The Best Water To Drink?
How to Address Hard Water Problems
There are hundreds of cleaning products designed to remove limescale from bathroom sanitary ware, and there are many home remedies that help you address limescale issues in your home.
Usually, if limescale removal is part of your regular cleaning routine, you can do a pretty good job at preventing limescale to build up on your taps, sinks, bathtub or showerhead.
These, however, are surfaces that easy to reach, but what about the nooks and crannies of your appliances and machines? De-scalers may help in this area too, but the best solution is always prevention.
So, how can you prevent lime-scale build-up and save yourself from all the trouble of removing limescale? The easiest way to prevent limescale from wreaking havoc in your home is to install a water softener system.
Water softeners are designed to eliminate scale formation by targeting the very issue that causes it – calcium and magnesium ions. In the water softening process, these ions are replaced by sodium ions that don’t stick to surfaces and are harmless to your appliances.
What Types of Water Softener Systems are There?
Technically, only salt-based water softeners can be considered softeners in the real sense of the word, because these will completely eliminate water hardness, which means that lime-scale will no longer form in any of your appliances, you won’t see any stains on surfaces or clothes, and soap lathering and detergent efficiency will be improved.
The other type of water softener that you may come across are non-salt water softeners, which will only inhibit lime-scale formation, but won’t turn hard water into soft water, and won’t improve soap lathering and detergent efficiency. These salt-free softeners are preferred by some because they don’t add anything to water, they don’t use any salt, so they are easier to maintain.
Salt-based water softeners are available in metered and time clock models. The difference between the two lies in the way these regenerate (the process whereby salt water flushes the resin bead of minerals). Metered water softeners regenerate only when necessary, while time clock models regenerated when they are programmed to do so.
For more on the differences between salt-based vs salt-free water softeners, read: Salt-based vs Non-Salt Water Softener – Which Is Better?
Is Soft Water Safe to Drink?
It’s unlikely that someone would willingly drink soft water given that is has an off-putting taste. If you’re using a salt-free water softener system, you don’t have to worry about any harmful side-effects.
Soft water produced by salt-based water softeners is designed to protect your home appliances from lime-scale build-up, and not for drinking purposes. Even though it’s unlikely to be an immediate danger to your health, it’s not advisable to consume it on a regular basis, especially if you’re pregnant or if you’re on a low sodium diet.
Neither salt-free water softeners nor salt-based water softeners protect from water contamination issues. Water contamination issues can only be dealt with by a water filtration system. If you own a whole house water softening system, we recommend installing a point-of-use water filter system as well to remove sodium and other contaminants from your tap water.
Water softeners are the easiest and most straightforward way to address hard water problems and prevent lime-scale build-up in your pipes and appliances. Alternatives to water softeners like salt-free systems or water filter systems with scale-inhibiting effects can also a be a good choice in preventing lime-scale formation.