Water is an incredibly important part of our lives. We are either consuming it to keep our bodies well hydrated, or we are using it in our homes or at work. Chemists call it the universal solvent, and it has incredible properties that make it unlike any other substance in the world. Water can carry tiny particles by dissolving them or suspending them, which makes it a versatile substance for doing everything from hydrating blood cells to carving out canyons and valleys.
So if water is so spectacular, why do I need to send it through a filter and install some fancy water softening system? Well, the short answer is that water’s spectacular properties are the very thing that makes it troublesome in your home. Depending on where you live, the water can, more or less, pick up certain particles. Sometimes, this means that water can contain bacteria, while other times it simply has a high mineral content. Water that has a high mineral content is considered “hard,” and the two minerals that cause water hardness in most homes are calcium and magnesium.
What Does Water Hardness Do?
So what if your water has some calcium and magnesium in it? Isn’t it just a tiny amount of minerals dissolved in a large amount of water? Well, yes. Water hardness, however, can be incredibly detrimental to your house and the effectiveness of any appliance that uses water. Let’s take a quick look at some of the detrimental effects of water hardness.
Soap and Detergent Effectiveness
There is a strange chemical reaction that occurs when you use soap with hard water. Normally, soap will dissolve in water and create nice, shiny suds that make your hands, clothes, and dishes squeaky clean. When soap or detergents come into contact with mineral-heavy water, the soap tends to coagulate and won’t dissolve entirely.
This means that the soap or detergent in your dishwasher won’t work as effectively. In your laundry machine, the detergent will work its way into your clothes, but won’t dissolve into the water. As a result, the detergent stays in your clothes and makes them stiffer and rougher. In the shower, your soap will be less effective, resulting in some dry, dull hair and skin.
Pipes and Water Hardness
While the soap issue may be catastrophic for some, the impact water hardness has on your pipes and water fixtures is much more detrimental. Think about how much water has to travel through your pipes every day. There are the toilets, showers, sinks, appliances, and perhaps even some outdoor pipes for watering your plants and lawn. If your water is particularly hard, this means that calcium and magnesium are being deposited in your pipes as the water travels through your house. While this isn’t a huge issue in municipal sized pipes, your residential water fixtures will suffer from the mineral buildup. Eventually, a mineral film will develop in your pipes and water heater, ultimately reducing the efficiency and pressure of all of your faucets.
How to Fix Water Hardness
All the effects of water hardness seem pretty bad, right? Fortunately, there is an effective way to deal with water hardness that will put an end to any plumbing issues or appliance efficiency problems. Since we identified the problem as being linked to magnesium and calcium, the solution lies in taking these two minerals out. To do so, many homeowners install a water softener to remedy the hardness of their water.
Water softeners take advantage of Le Chatelier’s Law of Equilibrium, which states that certain chemical reactions must reach equilibrium. Water softeners use positively charged sodium ions to force equilibrium to occur in a water tank, effectively removing the calcium and magnesium from the water and flushing it safely away from your house.
In reality, the process of softening water is much more complicated and requires an elementary knowledge of chemistry. For all intents and purposes, the bottom line is that your water no longer has a high mineral content, and your pipes and soaps will be more effective in the future.
If you know that water hardness is an issue for you in Northern Colorado or Hayden, Idaho, be sure to contact the water softening experts at Home Water Solutions, LLC. We have years of experience working on home water softening systems. If you’re ready to upgrade your home’s plumbing, call us today at 303-984-9642.