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  • Jason Weathers

Hard Water In Your Home

Hard Water. Hard Water Problems and Solutions. How to tell if you have hard water. Woman washing with hard water.

Causes Of Hard Water

Hard water is caused by rain water, which is soft, draining through the earth and filtering through deposits of minerals such as calcium and magnesium. The water dissolves these minerals and carries them along with the water to the accumulated pools of water underground. This underground water is then processed or pulled to your specific source of water treatment, maintaining its dissolved mineral accumulation, and giving you hard water.

Do You Have Hard Water

About 85% of people in North America suffer from hard water. Regardless of your source of water; river, reservoir, lake or ground water, it is likely you have hard water. Even if you are connected to a city municipal source you probably have hard water, because municipal sources do not treat for hard water.

Hard water. Map of hard water in North America. 85 percent of people in North America have hard water.

Hard water in your home is easy to spot once you know what to look for. Some common signs are:

  • Water stings your skin in the shower. Soft water should feel like soft rain hitting your skin.

  • White clothes turn yellow and dull over time.

  • Dishes are cloudy or contain spots after washing.

  • Water pressure in your home slowly diminishes.

  • Your skin feels itchy and dry.

  • Your hair looks dull and flat.

  • Clothes and linen feels rough.

Effects Of Hard Water

Besides these common visible signs of hard water, hard water can wreak havoc in unseen ways. Any appliances that use water in your home are especially susceptible to hard water's effects. Hard water will cause a build up of scale, left over mineral deposits, in your appliances' internal systems, causing damage and loss of water flow.

Ever notice how your Keurig brewer stops brewing the correct amount of coffee over time? That's because that hard water you use is leaving scale deposits in the water tubing of the brewer. Ever noticed that water stopped coming out of one or more of your shower spray nozzles? That's because your hard water is building scale deposits in your shower head, plugging those nozzles and diminishing the overall flow of the shower spray.

Hard water can also cause serious damage to your more expensive appliances like your water heater. The scale that caused so much damage to your smaller appliances is building around your hot water heater's heating element, causing it to work harder than before to get the same level of heat to your water. Eventually the heating element will be so covered with scale that it will no longer be able to heat the water and give out. Plus, the scale builds in the hot water heater's water tank, causing pressure on the casing and eventually can crack or explode.

Hard water. Scale build up in pipes, caused by hard water.
Scale build up in pipes, caused by hard water.

Hard water also has serious negative effects for your water pipes. It builds calcium and scale deposits inside of your pipes, reducing your homes water pressure. Eventually, it can build up so much that it creates a blockage in the pipes, causing a rupture or stopping water flow to parts of your home.

Your dishwasher, your faucets, toilets, refrigerator, clothes washing machine and other appliances are all susceptible to hard water damage. The hard water going to these appliances is going to cause irreparable damage over time, causing you thousands of dollars in repair bills and replacement costs.

Hard water. Hard water scale build up leads to expensive repair costs.

Get Rid Of Hard Water

To remove hard water from your water supply you will have to use a form of water softener. There are three basic types of water softeners currently available:

  • Ion Exchange (Salt Based)

  • Salt-free systems

  • Magnetic water softener

Ion Exchange

Ion Exchange, or salt based, water softeners are the traditional water softener that was originally developed in the 1970's, and has proven 100 % effective in softening hard water. The downside of the Ion Exchange system is that you have to add salt to the tank periodically.

Hard Water. Water softeners remove hard water minerals, giving your home completely soft water.
Ion Exchange Water Softener

Salt based water softeners work by exchanging the harder ions from the magnesium and calcium with the softer ions from the salt. This ion exchange takes place inside the softener on a bed of resin beads. The excess waste and hard ions are then flushed from the system, and out of your water supply, leaving you with a supply of completely soft water.

Essentially this system removes the calcium and magnesium from the water, and flushes the minerals from the water system.

Salt-Free Systems

Salt-free systems, or scale inhibitors, don't actually remove hardness from a water supply. Instead, they condition the minerals through a process called template assisted crystallization. This process physically alters the minerals, forcing them into a crystal that reduces scale.

Hard Water. Hard water is conditioned by salt-free scale inhibitors.
Salt-free water softener

The salt-free system, or scale inhibitors, create crystals from the hardness creating minerals instead of removing the minerals from the water. These crystals eliminate most of the scale build up on surfaces. So, you wouldn't have the spots and cloudiness on clean dishes, but you would still feel the sting of hard water while taking a shower.

Essentially this system does not remove hard water, but instead conditions the hardness to make it less damaging to your home and appliances.

Magnetic Water Softener

Magnetic or electronic water softeners work similarly to the Salt-free conditioners, in which it changes the minerals rather than removes them from the system. The issue with electronic and magnetic softeners is that the conditioning only lasts for 72 hours. So, if water passes through the magnetic conditioner and does not get used in 72 hours, then the water reverts back to its original hard state.

Hard Water. Electric water conditioner prevents scale build up on surfaces.
Electric Water Descaler

Magnetic or electronic softeners wrap around your homes existing pipe near the water inlet and magnetize the water, changing the hard water causing calcium into a crystal called aragonite. This aragonite does not stick to surfaces like the normal calcium, so you won't get the scale build up on surfaces. The end result is similar to the salt-free, or scale inhibitors, talked about above.

These magnetic and electronic systems are fairly new, so you have to be careful about what you buy. Many companies are selling miracle softening systems that are either not powerful enough to correctly condition your water, or just plain don't work.


Hard water can be a major problem for your home and budget. 85% of North Americans have hard water problems, but there are many solutions to this problem. Whether you're interested in a salt-based, ion exchange softener, or a salt-free solution, contact your local water softener specialist for a water test and consultation.

If you live in the Northern Kentucky or Southern Indiana area, AquaBlu Water Softeners will gladly provide a free water test and consultation for your water issues. Visit us at today!

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