Hard water is a major problem encountered by millions of homes. In USA itself, nearly 85 percent homes are forced to deal with hard water. Water is said to be hard when it contains excess amounts of dissolved minerals, mainly calcium and magnesium ions.
Hard water measurement
The extent of hardness of water is determined by the number of grains of minerals dissolved in a gallon of water or GPG. In the technical sense, water with 1GPG of dissolved minerals is said to be hard water. However, in practical application, you will hardly encounter any problem of hardness with water containing up to 3.5GPG of dissolved minerals.
Problems of hard water
There are numerous problems of hard water. Hard water is problematic when used for washing and bathing. It is quite difficult to remove stains on clothes when washed with hard water. Your clothes will look dull.
Sometimes soils present on clothes combine with the minerals present in the water to form insoluble salts, which deposit on your clothes, making them murkier. Moreover, hard water damages the fibers of your clothes, reducing their durability. Excessively hard water is unsuitable for bathing. Soaps and shampoos hardly form foam when used with hard water. In addition, hard water leaves a thin layer of scum on the skin and hair, clogging the pores of the skin and damaging your skin and hair. Hard water also causes deposition of lime on your crockery, bath appliances, sinks, dishwashers, water heaters and washing machine. Lime deposits inside pipes make the water heating systems less efficient, consequently increasing your energy bill.
Using water softeners is the only way of reducing the hardness of hard water. Several types of water softeners are available in the market. Adding a chemical water softener to water, used for washing and laundry, could be the easiest way of softening water. Several detergents meant for use with hard water are widely available. They remove the dissolved minerals from the water, making it suitable for washing. However, chemical water softeners can only be used for washing. If you want to get a permanent supply of soft water from your faucets, you can install a mechanical water softener.
Mechanical water softeners are quite expensive. A cheaper alternative would be a water filter, designed to remove the calcium and magnesium salts. Installing a magnetic water conditioner can also be a viable option.