There are a number of signs that point to a problem with hard water.  Homeowners with hard drinking water will often notice a smell or taste that is off.  When hard water is present in your home often times the sinks, tubs, and toilets will be stained, family members may begin to complain of dry, itchy skin, and your water supply will smell and taste off.  Bringing in a sample of the homes water will allow you to know exactly what is going on in your water supply. This water analysis will tell you what type of water treatment system will best suit your homes water issue. 

Water softeners are used to remove excess calcium and magnesium ions and exchange them with either sodium or potassium ions, depending on if you choose a salt free water softener or water softener that uses salt.  When the exchange has taken place the water softener regenerates and flushes the system of extra ions until it has been completely recharged with new sodium or potassium ions. This process uses twenty-five gallons of water each day, depending on use.  It is important to determine the waters hardness.  Preventing the buildup of scale can increase the lifespan of your appliances like your water heaters, dishwasher, and more.  There are seven common signs that your home will benefit from the installation of a whole house water softener. 

Noticeable Scale Buildup on Appliances

If you are noticing scale, you more likely than not have hard water.  Noticeable scale build up will be seen in the form of mineral deposits on coffee pots, tea kettles, and such.  These same mineral deposits are being built up within your homes pipes as well.  To prevent clogged pipes and less effective passing of water through your system causing defective plumbing and increased scale buildup a water softener should be installed.  The water softener needs to be set in a manner that allows the proper amount of water to rejuvenate each day to avoid running out of soft water throughout the day.  If you use twenty-five gallons of water each day, then your water softener needs to supply twenty-five gallons of soft water. 

The visible buildup that homeowners are seeing is known as limescale.  This is a hard, chalky material that is formed from a combination of calcium and magnesium bicarbonate.  The salt is what forms the white chalk like substance that is visible.  A water softener will reduce this scale buildup through ion exchange technology.

Itchy, Dry Skin and Hair

Hard water contains more calcium and magnesium salt than soft water.  When hard water is used in daily life it can cause your skin and hair to dry out no matter what shampoo and lotion you are using.  The hard water is not providing any nourishment to your skin and hair, so it dries out.  The extra minerals, calcium and magnesium, remain on your skin. It is important to note that soap doesn’t dissolve well in hard water, so it doesn’t help to remove the build up of minerals.  Since soap doesn’t dissolve well either that residue is also known to irritate the area as well. 

Hard water is also harsh on even the most stringent of skin care regimens.  Hard water blocks the pores in your skin, causes inflammation, and creates an environment prone to black heads.   Leathery, dry skin is another common side effect of hard water.

Gray and Faded Clothes

When darker clothes, sheets, and towels start to fade and gray when washed using hard water. The hard water may also change the texture of the fabrics.  The fabrics will start to become scratchy overtime because of the additional minerals that are contained in hard water. 

Sinks, Bathtubs, and Toilet Stains

Often times when a home has hard water it is noticeable because of the stains that the mineral residue leaves behind in sinks, tubs, and toilets.   The stains are formed after water evaporates and leaves behind the large amounts of calcium and magnesium from the tap water.  The residue will feel plaster like.  These deposits can also form on faucets.

One way in which to remove the residue build up is with vinegar.  Put vinegar into a spray bottle and spray the buildup or residue with vinegar.  After letting it set for a minute it should wipe away without a ton of struggle.  For harder to remove residue let the vinegar soak for up to an hour.  To clean the residue buildup from your dishwasher, pour a cup of bleach into the dishwasher along with a cup of powdered detergent.  Run this mixture through an empty dishwasher.  After the cycle has finished up run the dishwasher once again with an empty load using a cup of vinegar.  This will help to ensure that the bleach is no longer present.

Both types of water softeners, salt and potassium chloride, are effective in softening your homes water to prevent future residue buildup from making a home in your home.  To determine your homes water softener needs, have the water in your home tested.  This water analysis will help to determine the level of extra minerals in the water and the settings that will be optimal once your water softener is installed.

Constant Plumbing Repairs

The plumbing in your home, especially steel pipes, are easily harmed from the buildup of limescale which will prevent the water from flowing freely through them.  PVC and Copper piping tend prevent the buildup of hard water minerals better than steel however, all plumbing will eventually be affected by limescale.  More limescale means thicker buildup in the plumbing and will eventually lead to the loss of water pressure.  The rate at which the pipes are affected will be quicker overtime as the space within the pipe circumference shrinks due to the additional limescale.

If left untreated the pipes will eventually fail.  Homeowners that don’t take regular care to clean up the build up from around faucets will eventually end up with valves that don’t fully shut and therefore leak.  This leak will lead to greater, faster limescale buildup.  Plumbing repairs can be expensive as well as causing a lot of excessive wear on the house.  Installing an appropriate water softening unit will work wonders in helping to prevent further plumbing issues.

Increases in Water Bills

The amount of water that you use will increase the harder pipes have to work to get the water to flow through.  If there is a sudden increase in your water bill have your water tested.  This analysis will determine if you need a water softener installed, need your water softener replaced, or the water hardness level of a currently installed system needs to be adjusted. 

If you notice a change in your water the first step should always be to have your water analyzed by a professional.  Once an analysis is done on your water and you know what minerals are contained in the water a water treatment solution can be recommended.  Sometimes the simple installation of a water softener can improve the overall quality of your homes water however sometimes the solution is more complex.  A wide range of water treatment systems are available from whole house to point of use water softeners, water filters and purifiers, and reverse osmosis systems, all with their own specific job.  

The experts at Reynolds Water Conditioning have a solution to your homes unique water quality needs including: arsenic, bacteria, chlorine, rotten egg smell, fluoride, hard water, iron, lead, acid, tannins, radon, and more.  More information on our water treatment solutions including water softeners and conditioners, water filtration and purification, reverse osmosis drinking water, and iron & odor removal can be found online at

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