What Causes Hard Water at Home?

Plumbing Tips

Posted by Spencer | September 10, 2023 | Reading Time:

If your skin feels dry and itchy after bathing or you can't control the scaling around your sink, tub, or shower, the problem could be due to hard water. So what causes hard water, and why is it a problem for you and your home?

At Rainforest Plumbing & Air, we have years of experience doing water softener installation in Phoenix, AZ. Our technicians understand how frustrating it can be to deal with hard water, so see what we have to say about its causes, warning signs, and treatments below. 

What Is Hard Water?

Hard water describes a common problem involving excess minerals in water supplies. What causes hard water? When rain falls from the sky, it captures carbon dioxide in the air, then absorbs minerals from the rocks and soil it has contact with.

The water containing the mineral ions often ends up in well water and municipal water supplies. The most common minerals in hard water are magnesium and calcium. 

Dangers of Hard Water

The mineral content in hard water doesn't carry a health risk. The water is safe to drink, but it might not taste good. Unfortunately, the minerals will leave a limescale buildup inside pipes and water heaters, reducing water pressure. Prolonged exposure to hard water will take a toll on appliances by reducing their efficiency and lifespan. 

Signs Your Home's Water Is Too Hard

You have several ways to tell if your home has hard water. You can measure your water supply's hardness or softness in grains per gallon (GPG). A grain is the same as 0.002 ounces of calcium carbonate mixed with a gallon of water. 

Soft water is 0-3 gps, while hard water is anything above 7.5 GPG. Water with the perfect mineral balance is 3.5-7 GPG. You can also test your water and measure its hardness or softness in parts per million (PPM), at which 120 PPM will qualify as too hard. 

Still, you can forego testing and use these warning signs to determine if your home has hard water.

Soap Can't Lather

You expect soap to create a silky, bubbly lather when you agitate it under water. Unfortunately, the magnesium and calcium in hard water create soap scum instead of lather, which can leave your skin feeling tight, dry, and itchy after washing.

Without a good lather, your soap won't work properly. Instead, the scum that the hard water and soap produces will stick to everything, even you. 

Scale Buildup Around Pipes and Appliances

Excessive limescale buildup is common in households with hard water. You can usually see the deposits around pipes, appliances, and plumbing hardware. The buildup has a whitish color and is hard to remove using typical cleaning methods.

Rust Stains

Though limescale creates a tough white residue, your bathtub, sink, or toilet might develop reddish-brown rust stains due to hard water. The minerals in hard water stain porcelain. 

Clothes Look Dingy After Washing

Washing clothes in hard water won't produce the desired effects. Your garments will leave the washing machine looking dingy at best because the detergent can't lather properly in water with a high mineral content. In the same way that soap scum will stick to your skin, your clothing will also have a thin film of residue. 

Colors may also fade or seem less vibrant. Plus, residue on towels and cloths might prevent them from retaining their absorbency.

How To Treat Hard Water

Despite not being unhealthy to drink, you don't have to live with the effects of hard water in your house. Avoid plumbing problems, deep stains, scale buildup, and dry skin by installing a water softening system. Companies that install water softeners can test your water to identify its contaminants and hardness level before presenting you with options to soften your water. 

These systems soften water by eliminating magnesium and calcium ions in the supply and replacing them with sodium ions. With a water softener system, you'll enjoy the following benefits:

  • Cleaner clothing, dishes, and surfaces
  • Less wear on plumbing hardware and pipes
  • Healthier-feeling skin and hair
  • Improved drinking water taste

Improve Your Home's Water With a Water Softener Installation

Now that you know the answer to, "What causes hard water?" you can rely on Rain Forest Plumbing & Air to treat it at your home in Phoenix, AZ, or the surrounding areas. As a top-rated plumbing contractor, our licensed and experienced team has over 25 years of experience installing water softener systems. We're knowledgeable enough to answer all of your questions about water softener lifespans, in addition to heating and AC tips.

Request your appointment with Rainforest Plumbing & Air by calling 480-360-5278.

Author Bio:
Ike Tippetts
He founded the company and soon found himself answering phones and dispatching team members around the clock! Rainforest Plumbing & Air has come a long way since they started in 1999 as a two-truck operation.

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