There’s a lot of information out there about hard water, acidic water, even the chlorine in municipal water – and it can be more than a little confusing. Everybody out there has a product to sell, and some of them are good products, not a thing wrong with them, but a lot of the information you’re going to get takes one particular angle just to sell that product, whether it be a water softening system, an acid neutralizing system, or a reverse osmosis (filtering) system. All of these have their place in treating your household water, but if you aren’t educated about these types of water treatment and how they relate to your particular water situation, you’re liable to feel like you’re being “sold” or “scared” into buying something you don’t understand, without understanding what you really need.
Below, we get into the real dangers of hard water, acidic water, and contaminated drinking water, and break down the real, not hyped-up, problems with each. Hopefully, this info will set you at ease about the right approach for your home and your family. The right solution depends on your particular situation.
Part 1: Hard Water
What is “hard water”? It sounds like an oxymoron, kind of like “soft concrete,” but really the term “hard water” simply refers to the concentration of dissolved minerals in your water. The more dissolved minerals, the “harder” the water. The most common minerals in hard water are calcium and magnesium. Groundwater percolating through limestone is going to pick up dissolved calcium and magnesium and produce “limescale” in your pipes, appliances, and faucets. It’s really that simple. Mineral build-up in your shower heads is easy to see and the effects are easy to notice. Where you might not notice the damaging effects of hard water is in your hot water heater.
In Arizona, where the “hardness” of groundwater is extreme, hot water heaters die young. This is because minerals precipitate out of heated water, and as they build up at the bottom of the tank, the unit has to work harder and harder to do it’s job. Not only is the unit using more electricity, it’s basically giving itself a heart attack. You’ll be replacing it before you wish you were. On a lighter note, the reason you see spots on the “clean” dishes coming out of your dishwasher is hard water.
Sometimes people ask if hard water is bad for your health or harmful to drink. The answer is “no.” The minerals in the hard water of North Central Maryland are not harmful. Hard water is not bad for your health, it’s just bad for the health of your plumbing (and your wallet)
What To Do About it?
Hard water needs to be conditioned with a water “softener”. These work by replacing the magnesium and calcium molecules with sodium ions. Sodium? Will that change the taste of your water? Yes it probably will, but then again you don’t have to drink the water that fills up your washing machine. To make the water safe AND delicious for you and your family, you need to think about a small Reverse Osmosis system, ideally installed right under your kitchen sink. This way you have the best of both worlds: water that is soft for your hot water heater and pure for drinking.
Interested to learn more about how we can help with your hard water issues? We’d be happy to stop by your property to assess the problem and provide some solutions. If you live or work in eastern Baltimore or Harford County, please consider us at Coldwright Plumbing & Heating your go-to plumbers!
We serve the towns of Joppa, Abingdon, Fallston, Belcamp, Forest Hill, Bel Air, Aberdeen, Baldwin, Hunt Valley, Kingsville, White Marsh, Towson, Fulton, Middle River, Perry Hall and more! Call us or request a quote online!