Hard water is very common in rural households as well as certain regions of the country where the water table has a rich mixture of dissolved natural minerals. While we do not die because of drinking hard water, there are many problems that this kind of water can produce. Learning what the signs of a major hard water problem are in your home can help you decide whether buying a water softener makes perfect sense or not.
Weird Taste or Smell of Water
One of the first indicators of a potential hard water problem in the house is the uncanny smell and taste of water. The unusually high concentration of dissolved minerals can give water a not so pleasant taste. It can be very ‘earthy’ and tastes ‘metallic’ to the tongue. This is especially true if the water also contains high concentrations of iron.
In worst cases, you might even smell your water like rotten eggs. This is because magnesium in water can react with a certain species of bacteria to produce sulfates. There are also people who describe the taste to be that of dirt.
A water softener can help address this problem. And if you add it to a reverse osmosis system, you will get drinking water that is of the highest possible quality. This is because a RO system can remove many water impurities, such as sulfates, pesticides, hydrocarbons, and cadmium, among others. These impurities can also give your drinking water a very unpleasant taste and smell.
Unexplained Stains in Porcelain Water Fixtures
Look at your porcelain toilet bowl. If you have a kitchen sink or a toilet sink made of ceramic, check these, too. There is a good chance that you have a hard water problem if you notice reddish or brownish stains along the sides of the sink or the inside of the toilet bowl.
These stains are the result of the oxidation of dissolved iron in the water used to flush the toilet or wash items in the sink. In most cases, this is a sign of heavy corrosion in the inside walls of water pipes.
You can always clean these fixtures with a tough stain remover or a household concoction of vinegar and baking soda. However, these are only temporary solutions. Hard water is the main culprit. If this type of water runs through your pipes, you will still have these nasty stains.
Accumulation of Soap Scum
You may also notice hard water stains or spots on your dishes and even your ceramic tiles. The issue here is not that different from the reddish or brownish stains due to iron in water. Calcium and magnesium have a very peculiar way of reacting with soap.
In general, minerals create a barrier against the chemicals in soap. When you wash your dishes, you have this characteristic translucent spot with a whitish ring. The ring is the soap scum, unable to break away from the mineral barrier of hard water.
You can also see these spots on your shower curtain. They may also be present in other surfaces that get in contact with soapy water.
Less-than-pleasant Shower Time
Shower time should always be a pleasant experience. When you lather soap on your body, you should be able to rinse it off without any problems. Hard water makes it quite tricky to create a good lather. It is also a bit more difficult to rinse the soapy residue off your body.
This can leave a very unpleasant feeling right after taking a shower. You will still feel ‘soap’ on your skin as if you didn’t rinse at all. This makes shower time not something you would want to look forward to.
Clothes that Don’t Look Like They’ve been Washed and Cleaned
We know that hard water makes it difficult to rinse off soap on your body. The same is true with clothes. The main concern here is the likelihood of soiling your clothes because of the soap residue left on clothes.
Soap is supposed to wash away dirt and grime. How can it do this if the soap cannot be rinsed off clothes? You will still have those nasty stains on your shirt. The sad part is that the soil will grow more stubborn over time.
Clogging of Water Pipes
There are many reasons why our plumbing can get clogged. However, one of the most often overlooked reasons is hard water. The rich concentration of dissolved minerals in hard water tends to clump together in the inside surfaces of plumbing. Calcium and magnesium can produce limescale. Limescale may not totally block water flow. However, it can reduce the amount of water flowing through your pipes.
The good news is that this occurrence is only common in steel pipes. If you have copper or PVC pipes, then the formation of limescale should not be a concern.
Hard water can have an impact on the quality of your drinking water. It can make soapy solutions more difficult to rinse off, leaving behind hard water stains. In some instances, you can have clogging and staining of plumbing and water fixtures. If you see any of these signs, then you really have a major problem with hard water in your home.