If you have dry, itchy skin, and your sinks have stains everywhere, then your problem might just be hard water. If yes, a water softener can help. Water softening systems lengthen the lifespan of your clothes and your plumbing. Hard water can cause a myriad of issues, wreaking havoc in your home and on your body.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, water softeners remove extra magnesium and calcium ions in water, by exchanging it with softer potassium or sodium ions. When this exchange occurs, the water softener flushes the system of extra ions and recharges it with new sodium ions. By preventing scale buildup, they increase the life of your whole house water filter system.
Here are seven signs you need softer water:
Appliances Have Scale Buildup
If you have scale, hard water is the likely culprit. Scale is mineral deposits, and it forms on appliances like coffee pots and kettles, as well as within your plumbing system, inside your pipes. It clogs your plumbing to the extent that water struggles to pass through the piping, making your water system notably less effective. Hard water is notorious for damaging plumbing and causing scale buildup.
Comprised of calcium and magnesium bicarbonate, scale, or limescale, is chalky and hard. These salts give this buildup their white chalkiness, and it can prove really trying to clean and remove. By utilizing ion exchange technology, water softener is able to reduce this scale buildup, keeping your plumbing and appliances healthy for longer.
You Have Dry Skin and Hair
Because of the high levels of calcium and magnesium salts in hard water, it can actually make your skin and hair out. Shampoo and soap cannot prevent it completely on its own. The salts stop the water from providing any nourishment to your skin, instead it just drying it out. Salt also cakes on your skin, and because soap does not dissolve well in hard water, it is incapable of totally removing it.
This salty residue remains on your skin, where it causes irritation and makes it feel rough and dry. What is more, it blocks your pores, which leads to inflammation and skin problems, such as blackheads, acne, eczema, and worse. Your skin becomes dry and leathery, while tarnishing it much the same way that glass tarnishes when you do not rinse it properly after washing.
You Have Gray, Faded Clothes
Hard water fades your clothes, your bedsheets, and any other linens. It also makes them feel hard and scratchy to the touch, due to the high concentrations of mineral salts in your water. It is possible to mitigate the faded gray look by using liquid detergent in a front loader washing machine, as some of these detergents contain water-softening technology. You can also add vinegar.
However, implementing a whole home water filter with a water softener can resolve this problem more effectively and cheaper over the long-term. Sodium tripolyphosphate also works to soften fabrics and you can add it to your washing. Despite all these solutions, they only help somewhat. The only way to rid yourself entirely of these gray-making minerals in your water is to invest in a quality water softener.
You Have Stained Bathtubs and Sinks
You know you have hard water if you see stains in your sinks and bathtubs. These are mineral residues, formed when tap water evaporates and leaves calcium and magnesium deposits behind. Faucets and tubs will also have a plaster-like appearance, which is possible to remove with vinegar and hour-long soaks in hot water, with some dishwasher detergent and bleach added.
However, to remove these stains permanently and ensure they never return, a potassium chloride water softener will work best. You will have no more stains in your bathrooms at all. To know what minerals are in your water, and how much of them it contains, simply test it with a home water testing kit, which is readily available both online and in-store.
You Have Constant Plumbing Repairs
Hard water is most damaging to steel pipes, which suffer most from limescale buildup. This will stop your water flowing freely. PVC and copper pipes fare better with hard water, but buildup still occurs on a smaller scale. Since pipe flow becomes restricted from hard water, it lowers water pressure, which then causes scale to buildup even faster. It is a very destructive cycle.
When your valves start showing limescale buildup, in your dishwasher and washing machine, opening and closing them becomes difficult, eventually impossible. This causes expensive and messy water leakage, and it damages these appliances. Furthermore, you continually need to repair your plumbing, which is costly and leads to additional house wear and tear. Only water softeners prevent this.
You Have Rising Water Bills
As your plumbing works harder to get water to you, increasing water usage, your water bill will start skyrocketing. If you notice rising costs, consider a water softener. You can check with your utility company whether your water is soft or hard, or you can buy your own testing kit to do a sample analysis. This will determine exactly how soft or hard your water is.
Testing your water will also tell you which chemicals your company adds to soften the water, as well as what other contaminants it contains, depending on the type of testing kit you use. If you find your water at a higher level of hardness, then it will save you money long-term to install a water softener to lower your water usage, and ultimately your bill.
You Have Brittle, Damaged Glassware
Hard water stains glass. Removing it is also challenging. Hard water also makes glass brittle, prone to easy breakage. You can use vinegar instead of soap when washing your glassware to provide some protection. This works for silverware too. The idea is to avoid using abrasive powdered soap, as these do not dissolve well and scratch your cutlery and crockery, especially when fragile from hard water.
Alternatively, you can soak your glassware for some time to remove stains, in a solution of plain water and vinegar. However, this is painful to do all the time. What is more, it only somewhat prevents breakages. Without doubt, installing a water softener is the only way to prevent brittle, damaged glassware, as it is the only way to remove hard water from your whole house water filter.
Unfortunately, hard water is a reality many people struggle with on a daily basis. It tastes bad too, and is the primary driver of people purchasing water filter systems. Salty water is another overlooked sign of hard water, but adding a water softener to your system will not only make your life easier, it will resolve every one of these unpleasant and expensive issues.