Hard Water Concerns


    Scale ProblemsHot Water Heater

    Hard water minerals gradually settle out forming a hard scale. Scale inches thick can build up over time in hard water areas. Scale buildup will eventually clog pipes and can decrease the life of toilet flushing units by 70 percent and water faucets by 40 percent according to the American Water Works Association (AWWA). Hardness scale can also shorten the life of washing equipment, dishwashers, and clothes washers by as much as 30 percent according to the AWWA report.

    Another area where hard water can have a financial impact is on your water heater. Scale tends to form on the heating elements and heat transfer surfaces in these units. This leads to a shortened operational life and reduced efficiency. A 1981 study conducted by New Mexico State University determined that scale build-up can reduce a gas water heater's efficiency by as much as 29.57 percent, and an electric water heater's efficiency by as much as 50 percent through scale buildup.

    Household CleaningCleaning Products

    Hard water has a direct effect on household cleaning. All water based cleaning and washing is less effective and efficient with hard water. Cleaning with hard water requires greater physical effort and the use of greater quantities of cleaning agents for surfaces such as floors, sinks, and bathtubs.

    It also leads to spotting on dishes and glassware. A comparison of hard and softened sources of water for household use conducted by Ohio State University indicated that the time required for typical cleaning tasks was increased by almost 50 percent.

    This is largely due to the formation of soap "curd" which can also be known as "soap scum," or "soap film." The curd tends to build up on sinks or bathtubs where soap use is frequent.

    Removing heavy curd can require some "elbow grease" and may eventually require the use of specialized cleaning agents which chemically neutralize the hardness component of this film. Curd formation can also result in streaks, spots and film on glass and dishware which can harbor bacteria. Also, some synthetic detergents react with hard water to form soluble calcium and magnesium compounds which cut down on dishwasher cleansing action.



    People used to washing in hard water may not notice the increased detergent use, yet the waste is still there.

    With hard water you will use 3 or 4 times the amount of soaps and detergents that you would need to use in soft water.

    Most modern detergents also contain builders to increase the alkalinity, but unfortunately, the builders tend to be consumed in softening hard water.

    This limits their ability to clean and requires the use of greater quantities of detergent. The latest generation of concentrated liquid detergent does compensate for this somewhat.

    Hard water also influences fabric life and fading according to a 1991 Purdue University study.

    The study indicated that fabrics washed in hard water tend to wear out up to 15 percent quicker than fabrics washed in soft water. This is probably due to the presence of hardness residues in the fabric making it stiffer and more brittle, leading to increased friction and wear as the fabric flexes.

    Colors were found to fade and whites to darken more quickly in hard water. In addition, the study found that laundry washed in hard water became resoiled with greater ease.

    The cost of putting up with hard water is tremendous.

    It is always less expensive to fix the hard water than to put up with the problems.

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