What is the difference between soft and hard water?

May 1, 2016

No matter where you go, you will hear people talk about the quality of their water. This is no surprise considering our daily lives rely heavily on the quality and quantity of water available to us. Not all water is created equal. Namely, some is hard (about 85% of water) and some is soft—and the difference is important.

It comes down to minerals, which are annoying in some circumstances and helpful in others. You could take a shower in Seattle and feel like the soap will never wash out of your hair. A shower in Dallas might leave you wondering if you used any soap at all. The difference between hard and soft water isn’t just a bad hair day—we are talking about serious consequences for your plumbing fixtures.

Compared to soft water, hard water has more minerals—namely, calcium and magnesium from coming into contact with rocks or soil. That means it can more easily bind with soap to rinse it away. Hard water not only rinses away soap, but it also leaves its own residue behind in the form of soap scum and lime scale. Hard water states know the importance of frequent cleaning.

Lime scale buildup can be found on faucets, shower heads, glass shower doors, tubs, water heaters and inside pipes. It eventually reduces water flow and, in extreme cases, clogs pipes and puts water-using appliances out of service. In areas of extremely hard water (hello Texas), lime scale buildup has been known to block pipes completely. Although drinking hard water doesn’t pose a safety issue, it can present problems that can be frustrating and costly for homeowners. When it comes to laundry, hard water causes clothes to look dingy, dulls colors and gives whites a grey or yellow appearance. Over time, hard water can damage fabric fibers and shorten the lifespan of clothes by up to 40%. Washing dishes, glassware and silverware in hard water can cause spots and a cloudy coating – even more so when cleaned in dishwashers because the minerals from hard water are released faster under high heat.

Hard water problems? There are products available for softening your water. If you don’t already have one installed, it’s time to get a water softener and filter. You can offset hard water in your laundry room by increasing heat and detergent use. If you have intensive lime scale buildup or clogged pipes due to hard water damage, you can always reach out to your friends at Baker Brothers Plumbing. As a Texas company, we are well versed in the woes of hard water. Call us at 214-324-8811 with any questions or concerns.

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