Whether on city water or a well, hard water can be a problem. When water leaches up through rock and soil it often collects minerals along the way. Similarly, minerals can join water when traveling through corroded pipes. Some of what reaches us through the water is harmless. Still, some of it has been linked to health problems.
A 2013 study by Pallav Sengupta, “Potential Health Impacts of Hard Water” published in the International Journal of Preventative Medicine details the health risks associated with hard water. Among them are cardiovascular disease, cancers, and cerebrovascular mortality. The results of the study are alarming. Water contamination in the United States is definitely an issue but there are groups responsible for overseeing water quality and keeping contaminant levels safe in drinking water. It is still important to know if the water in your home contains something other than water.
Do you know if your home has hard water?
There are a number of ways to determine if a home has hard water. One of the first indications that there are contaminants is by smell and taste. If it smells or tastes like anything that is an indication that something other than water is coming out of the tap. A metal taste might indicate iron whereas hydrogen sulfide smells like rotten eggs. Bacteria can also change the taste and smell of water and pose health risks. More extensive testing might be required in these instances.
Hard water creates reddish stains in porcelain and creates “soap scum” on metal appliances. What looks like soap scum is limescale, a buildup of alkaline deposits. Although there are a number of ways to clean it, these stains will persist as long as the water is carrying the minerals that create them.
Another simple way to determine if a home has hard water is with soap. Hard water prevents soap and shampoo from creating suds. Because hard water does not react well with soap it makes rinsing it off difficult. Often people over-wash to remove the soap and develop dry skin. Hard water also effects the detergent in washing clothes. Soap that is left behind on skin as well clothes can be damaging. On clothes the soap can build up and make clothing look grimy.
Over time, hard water will block pipes and wear about appliances. Dishwashers are particularly susceptible to hard water. As the buildup grows and constricts water flow, dishwashers use more energy to compensate. A home is also more likely to experience clogs as the limescale coats the inside of pipes.
Hard water might be most obvious as an inconvenience, but when left unchecked it become much more than unsightly. For information about ways to combat hard water in your home, check out this article on Water Softeners.