Water is considered “hard” if it has a high concentration of dissolved minerals like magnesium and calcium. These elements can be picked up by groundwater as it passes in and around soil and rocks. Water hardness is measured in grains per gallon (GPG), parts per million (ppm) or milligrams per liter (mg/L). The Water Quality Association considers water to be hard if it has more than 17.1 ppm or 1 GPG. According to a U.S. Geological Survey, 85% of the water in the United States is considered hard water.
Problems caused by hard water
While hard water doesn’t pose a health risk, the buildup of mineral deposits it
leaves behind can reduce efficiency of water pipes and water heaters, and also
make soap and detergents less effective.
Clothes look dingy and wear out fast
Washing clothes in hard water can make them look dingy, feel scratchy, and
actually, damage the fibers. Hardwater can even shorten the life of your clothes by as much as 40%.
Mineral deposits from hard water can build up around the openings in your shower head, causing clogs that reduce the water pressure of your shower.
Soap scum or “soap curd” on tubs, showers, and other surfaces
Hard water prevents soap from cleaning and dissolving completely. Instead, the soap bonds with the minerals in the water to form a film or “curd” that sticks to everything and causes a soap scum ring in the bathtub.
Cleaning is more difficult
The hard deposits left behind after hard water dries are called lime scales. These minerals are difficult to remove, and can even cause chemical reactions that make cleaning products less effective.
Permanent damage to glass shower doors
In some cases, mineral deposits can become so bad that there is a chemical change that permanently damages the material. For example, if you have a glass shower door with a white, cloudy residue that never seems to come off completely, those stains may be permanent because the chemicals have etched the glass.
Damage to plumbing fixtures
Plated plumbing fixtures that are discolored from mineral buildup are often beyond restoration, because the chemicals eat through the coating. You may see mineral build-up around drains, faucets, and on shower heads. These deposits can damage the rubber washers that seal the fixtures, creating leaks that can cause even more damage.
Damage to appliances
Appliances that use water, like coffee makers, washing machines, ice makers and dishwashers, can have lime scale build up around the valves and seals, which leads to water leaks.
Spots and streaks on dishes and glasses
Washing glasses and dishes in hard water can cause spots, streaks, and a cloudy film to develop. Although they don’t post a health risk, they can be difficult to remove and can make your dishes look like they’re not clean.
Dull, lifeless hair
Washing your hair in hard water can cause build-up that makes it tangle easily, look dull and feel rough.
Skin irritation and film
Showering or bathing in hard water with soap can leave a film on your skin, which can prevent the removal of dirt and bacteria. This film can also irritate skin.
Clogged water pipes
Lime scale, made up of magnesium and calcium deposits, can build up in your
plumbing system and reduce the flow of water through the pipes. PVC and copper pipes are not as susceptible to this problem, but it is a big issue for steel pipes. Over time, your home’s water pressure will be lower, and as the water flow slows down the buildup of lime scale will speed up until eventually your water pipes are completely clogged. Once they become completely blocked, your pipes will have to be replaced.
Increased water heater energy consumption
Lime scale can build up inside your water heater, reducing its efficiency and life span. The mineral deposits on the heating element can make it take longer to heat water, which means your water heater will have to work longer. Lime scale buildup from hard water can also reduce your water heater’s life span by 25 – 40%, according to a study by the U.S. Department of Energy.
Signs of Hard Water
If your home has hard water, you will notice mineral deposits, stains or a white film on surfaces like porcelain, enamel, stainless steel, tile, chrome, fiberglass, and glass. You may notice stains or build-up on bathroom fixtures, dishes, and sinks.
Shell Salt base water softener will completely remove hardness from the water.
Shell Salt free conditioner will protect your plumbing BUT this only crystallizes the hardness when the inlet water goes into the water conditioner, the up flow pulls the water through the fluidized media bed which then acts as a catalyst and pulls the hardness minerals of calcium and magnesium out of the solution and then transforms these minerals into inactive Nano crystal particles.
Soft water is defined by American National Standards NSF/ANSI 44 and NSF/ANSI 330 as water containing <1 grain of hardness per gallon (or <17.1 mg/L hardness).