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Hard water is an issue many Texans deal with. The term ‘hard water’ simply means water has high mineral content. This happens because water combined with carbon dioxide forms a weak carbonic acid. The slightly acidic water makes its way through the soil and dissolves minerals, especially in areas with chalky soil or large deposits of limestone. Plumbers in Mansfield, TX are usually familiar with hard water in their localities.
Calcium and magnesium are the two most common minerals present in water. The human body actually needs these minerals, but too much of them create scale build-up on plumbing pipes and fixtures. Other minerals, such as iron, aluminum, barium, zinc, strontium, zinc, and manganese, can also be present. A plumber can analyze water to determine which minerals are present.
Mineral content varies depending on the location in Texas and the source of water. The degree of hardness is determined by the amount of minerals. It’s measured in part per million, or ppm. Plumbers in Mansfield, TX are very familiar with hard water. Call your local plumber if you think hard water might be having an effect on your home.
The mineral content build-up in your home can cause inefficient operation of appliances and plumbing systems. The water heater may not heat water to the expected temperature or may not be able to keep up with the home’s demands. Mineral build-up can also reduce your hot water heater’s lifespan. Most water heaters should last around 10 to 15 years, but it’s unlikely to last that long without proper care and maintenance. Consult a plumber for guidance to maximize the lifetime of appliances.
Once you notice problems with a water heater, the mineral build-up is probably harming the appliance. A white crust around the faucet and handles on the sink is a sign of mineral build-up. If the signs are visible on plumbing fixtures, then it’s also happening inside the pipes too. A plumber can confirm the presence of hard water.
Hard Water Effects on Skin, Hair, and Nails
The effects of hard water aren’t limited to inanimate objects and appliances. Minerals in our water have an impact on us too.
Mineral Build-Up on Hair
Mineral build-up forms a film on hair, which makes it hard for moisture to penetrate. Hair strands feel dry, brittle and prone to breaking. It can look dull and dirty, even right after a shower. The strands themselves become thinner. This leads to frizz and tangles. A hairdresser may help manage damage caused by hard water, but plumbers offer long-term solutions.
Sometimes mineral build-up causes greenish-yellow or brown tints in hair. Minerals can react with pigments on dyed hair and create dingy, unappealing colors. Hair treatments, and conditioners don’t help because they can’t penetrate the mineral film.
Hard water affects fingernails and toenails too. Hair and skin are made up of layers of keratin. Mineral build-up occurs gradually, so it may not be noticed until nails become dry, brittle and discolored. Damage to cuticles and nail beds hinders growth and leaves nails thin and weak. Hardening nail polish and products intended to nourish nails have a limited effect because they can’t penetrate mineral layers. The solution to these problems isn’t a trip to a nail salon. Call your local plumber in Mansfield, TX, instead.
Impact on Skin
Calcium and magnesium in hard water combine with fatty acids in soap. This reaction stops soap from dissolving the way it should and turns it into the coagulated deposits we refer to as soap scum. Soap scum creates a film over our skin every time we wash our hands or take a bath or shower.
This film contains calcium bicarbonate and magnesium carboxylates, along with other mineral deposits, and it is difficult to rinse away. The film also reduces the effectiveness of moisturizers and lotions. High mineral content can interfere with the lather we expect to see when we use most soaps, even detergents, and dishwashing soap. Many people try to compensate for the lack of lather by using more soap, which just makes build-up worse. Consult a plumber if soaps and shampoos don’t seem to create enough lather.
Hard water residue can eventually disrupt natural oils that maintain a normal moisture balance. It can clog pores and lead to skin conditions like acne or make other skin conditions, such as eczema or psoriasis, worse. Hard water can also lead to an itchy, dry scalp. People with sensitive skin may notice effects to a greater degree than others. If you travel frequently and notice that the appearance of your skin or hair improves away from home, you may have hard water. Contact a plumber to confirm the presence of minerals in your home’s water.
Many personal care products claim to reduce the effects of hard water. Some of these products may work, but they’re only a limited and temporary solution. The only way to really address problems caused by hard water is to tackle the problem at the source. The professional plumbers at Benjamin Franklin Plumbing in Mansfield, TX, are always available to help.
Hard Water in Dishwashers
It may be tempting to suspect a problem with your dishwasher when dishes don’t come out clean and fresh, but the problem may not be the appliance. Hard water can lead to cloudy spots on dishes. These spots are usually made up of a cloudy white residue. This residue builds up on the dishwasher itself too. The lifetime of complex parts such as pumps and heating elements can be severely reduced by mineral deposits. Sometimes calling a plumber is more useful than contacting a repair technician.
Another sign of hard water is a metallic smell. Instead of a clean fresh scent, our freshly cleaned dishes could have a harsh metallic odor. Adding more detergent can make problems worse. Scaly white soap scum accumulates everywhere that water mixed with soap can reach. Most dishwashers have an average lifespan of 9 to 11 years. Hard water reduces that lifespan by making parts work harder and destroying efficiency. Call your plumber to assess hard water before assuming the dishwasher is at fault.
Hard water frequently affects laundry. Fabrics may become stiff and dull because they’re covered in mineral residue. Long-term buildup can cause holes because individual fibers become brittle and break. Signs of hard water on your laundry include dinginess, graying or yellowing, stiff fabric, white or gray streaks, and a rough, uneven texture. Consult a plumber if you notice these signs and don’t know the mineral content of your water.
Ingredients in powdered laundry detergents can mesh with minerals in the water instead of forming foam and cleaning clothes. Up to 30% more detergent is necessary to get the same results, and sometimes the detergent doesn’t work unless the water is extremely hot. Increased energy bills, detergent costs, and replacing clothing earlier than should be necessary all adds up to a lot of wasted money. Consult a plumber to address hard water to potentially avoid unnecessary expenses.
Liquid detergents tend to have better results because they contain nonionic surfactants that resist binding with minerals. People sometimes have better luck using detergents formulated for heavy soiling, even if clothing and fabrics aren’t heavily soiled. Sometimes a half cup of borax softens the water inside the washing machine by forming a calcium-complex that removes calcium from the water.
Homemade soaps and detergents may not work because they don’t contain the same chemicals found in manufactured products. Add water softening laundry products to each load to improve detergent performance and reduce the amount of mineral residue on clothes. A plumber can install a water softening system that may reduce mineral content so you can use homemade products successfully.
Studies conducted by Scientific Services S/D in New York found that using water softeners in washing machines can reduce efficient water temperatures by almost 60 degrees and reduce the amount of detergent by almost 50% to achieve the same amount of cleanliness and stain removal.
Researchers studied varying hardness levels from 1 grain per gallon up to 5 grains per gallon. Adding a water softener improved results more efficiently than increased water temperatures or additional amounts of detergent. Plumbers in Mansfield, TX, have plenty of experience installing water softeners and conditioners.
Removing hard water stains from clothing can be a challenge. Try filling the washer with water at the highest possible temperature. Use four times the usual amount of detergent and add one cup of water conditioner. Let clothes agitate just long enough to saturate them with water, then let the clothing soak for at least 12 hours. Drain and spin without agitating, then wash the clothing again on a regular cycle with no detergent. If the process isn’t effective, you can repeat it using one cup of conditioner each time.
Soak fabrics in a solution of white vinegar and distilled water for 30 minutes to remove mineral stains. Use bleach with caution. Hard water may contain iron, which combines with bleach to form iron oxide, commonly known as rust. These stains can only be removed with rust remover.
Cleaning Hard Water Deposits
The best way to manage hard water stains is to remove minerals before they solidify. For example, drying dishes immediately after washing prevents cloudy residue deposits. Wiping down shower doors and fixtures in the bathroom immediately after showering can reduce scaling. Some cleaning techniques may be helpful if deposits are already present.
Natural cleaners such as lemon juice, baking soda, or white vinegar may remove mineral stains and scale. Soak paper towels or rags in white vinegar then wrap them around your faucet. Leave the wrapping in place for 2 hours then rinse and dry the faucet. Remove showerheads and soak them in vinegar overnight. Use an old toothbrush or stiff-bristled cleaning brush to scrub the showerhead and rinse it before reinstalling. Spray shower doors and other glass fixtures with white vinegar to remove scaling.
Add a cup of white vinegar to the dishwasher and run a cleaning cycle without dishes. This is usually done on a monthly basis, and the same process works for washing machines.
Evaluating Hard Water
Ultimately, managing hard water is only a temporary solution, no matter which management options you choose. Addressing hard water in your home is the only permanent fix.
Test kits measure the mineral content in your water. You can purchase a kit or call your local plumber to have the water tested. Soft water has less than 1 GPG of mineral content. Any result above 1 GPG is considered hard. Moderate hard water is between 1 to 7 GPG, while very hard water contains 10 GPG or more.
If your home uses city water, you can check the local municipal water quality report. These reports are usually released yearly and provide in-depth information concerning mineral content in the local water supply, including a detailed breakdown of the different minerals.
Water Softeners and Conditioners
Water softeners are products and systems that reduce the mineral content in hard water. Many softeners work through ion exchange. The resin bed of a water softening system exchanges minerals such as calcium and magnesium with sodium ions. Resin beds need to be cleaned and regenerated after they fill up with hard water ions.
Sometimes additional sodium in water is a problem, especially for people with certain health issues. Sodium-free water softeners don’t actually remove minerals. They ‘condition’ water by altering magnesium and calcium through a chemical reaction.
These alterations stop minerals from forming scale. Water conditioning systems don’t need regeneration because they don’t use sodium ions. Your plumber can help you decide whether softening or conditioning is the best option for your household’s needs.
Call Benjamin Franklin Plumbing of Fort Worth in Mansfield, TX, to assess water quality and mineral content in your home. These experienced plumbing professionals can help you find the best solution to relieve hard water for your household.