Although it’s more than annoying at times, hard water is prevalent in homes across the country. But, it’s perfectly safe for humans and pets to drink. Here we’ll go over what hard water is, why it’s viewed as a problem, the health benefits it provides, and how it affects your home’s plumbing system.

What is hard water?

It’s water that contains more mineral content than normal, usually with a much higher amount of calcium and magnesium, plus brass, copper, and iron. Hard water develops from groundwater sources — as rainwater flows through the soil and rocky landscapes, it leaches minerals since water is a natural solvent. These minerals accumulate in the water and then deposit on surfaces, such as inside pipes, as the water heats inside your home. The hardness of the deposits is where hard water receives its applicable name.

If you suspect your home has hard water, there are at-home test kits available at most home improvement stores. The results will be based on the number of calcium carbonate grains per gallon in the water.

  • Soft: Less than 1 gpg
  • Slightly hard: 1 to 3.5 gpg
  • Moderately hard: 3.5 to 7 gpg
  • Hard: 7 to 10.5 gpg
  • Very hard: More than 10.5 gpg

Why do people see hard water as a problem?

For many years hard water was viewed as dangerous to consume. Although 85% of the United States has some level of hard water, and ongoing research has dispelled many myths, it’s still seen as a problem. Here are four reasons why.

  1. Dry, itchy skin after bathing: Hard water pulls moisture away from the dermis, leaving you with dry skin. It also leaves behind unseen soap residue which gives many people an itchy feeling.
  2. Dull, flat hair: Hard water draws moisture from your hair as you wash, leaving you with dry and shampoo residue-coated locks. The residue often impedes conditioners and masks from soaking in, adding more residue which weighs down the strands.
  3. Unclean clean laundry: The extra minerals wreak havoc on your laundry whether it’s clothing or bedsheets. Many block the full removal of odors and stains in fabrics while roughing up the fibers to the point of prematurely worn materials.
  4. Spots or film on dishes: If you’ve noticed spots or film on dishes, glassware, and silverware after washing, these are the calcium carbonate deposits left behind by hard water.

Drinking Hard Water Has some Health Benefits

The look and taste of hard water may turn off many people from drinking it, but it’s perfectly safe and may offer a range of health benefits.

  • Greater heart health: The increased amounts of calcium and magnesium in hard water have been linked to greater heart health. Research has found the two increase heart stimulation and efficiency in pumping blood throughout your body.
  • Improved immune system: A growing body of research points to the high magnesium concentration acting as a stimulation to the immune system, thus possibly offering protection against all cancer types.
  • Better insulin regulation and production: Though diabetes may cause lower natural magnesium production, drinking hard water can provide the amount needed for proper insulin production. Magnesium drives the body’s channels responsible for regulating the production.
  • Better digestive health: In the right combination, calcium and magnesium are good for fighting constipation, easing diarrhea, and assisting with stomach cramps.
  • Healthy plants: Watering plants with hard water may give them minerals needed for growth and maintenance and encourage them to better absorb the nutrients provided by a fertilizer.

The Only Thing Hard Water Hurts are Your Pipes (Potentially)

  • Corrosion: This occurs when metal plumbing fixtures and pipes react with excessive mineral amounts. Corrosion causes weak spots in the plumbing which eventually crack or break, causing expensive water leaks.
  • Clogged drains: Drains are a common place for limescale and other mineral deposits because of the sheer volume of water they receive.
  • Reduced water flow: As the hard water deposits slowly coat the pipes’ insides, you’ll begin to notice reduced water flow from faucets, bathtubs, and showerheads. The more narrow the pipe opening, the more the water pressure increases and creates the perfect setup for a broken or burst pipe.
  • Less energy efficiency: Appliances that use water, such as a washing machine or dishwasher, begin to work harder as mineral deposits restrict the necessary water flow. This reduces the appliance efficiency and increases your electric bill.

Is There Anything I Can Do to Treat Hard Water?

This is a common question plumbers hear. Since hard water occurs naturally, it’ll never go away, but there are a couple of things you can do to help. First, schedule regular plumbing maintenance appointments. We’ll take a good look at the plumbing and pipes for clogs, whether or not they’re caused by hard water, water flow, potential leaks or breaks, and more.

Secondly, many homes turn to water-softening systems to help with hard water. These systems filter out the calcium, magnesium, and other hardening minerals and give you soft water to drink and bathe with. It’s also much easier on the water-using appliances in your home.

Regardless of the cosmetic issues it causes, hard water is perfectly safe for humans and pets to consume. Have hard water questions? Call JW Plumbing, Heating and Air today.

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