Hard Water: What is it and How to Reduce It

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According to the WQA (Water Quality Association), the most common problem reported by consumers throughout the US is hard water. According to a U.S. Geological Survey, hard water is present in more than 85% of the country. Yikes!

What causes hard water

More than 60% of the earth’s water is groundwater. As it travels through soil and rock, it picks up minerals (including magnesium and calcium) along the way. These two contaminants (calcium and magnesium) produce hardness in water. Generally, hardness is measured in grains per gallon (gpg).  For example, if a water test indicates a range of 1.0 to 3.5 gpg, the water is considered slightly hard. If the measurement is greater than 10.5 gpg, the water is rated as being very hard.

How to know if you have hard water

  1. Clogged pipes and appliances is a common sign of hard water. Hard water mineral deposits can build up in pipes or plumbing equipment, coffee makers, and more. You may notice a reduced water flow.
  2. You may notice a film on their shower tiles or bathtubs, or even on yourself. The film that is left often results in additional scrubbing and scouring of the affected fixtures, and can cause hair to be dull and limp, and dry the skin. Also, your water heating costs could increase as a result of hard water. Hard water mineral deposits can form an insulating barrier between the heating element and the water to be heated.
  3. The calcium and magnesium in hard water negatively act on many detergents and soaps causing a reduction in their cleaning capabilities. The soapy residue they form can be abrasive and reduce the life of clothing.

How to solve your hard water problem

To solve the problem of hard water in your home, filtration will be the most effective approach. By investing in a water softening system, it will “swap out” the excessive magnesium and calcium (as well as other hard water minerals present) for sodium ions. These ions will decrease the negative effects of hard water in your home.

Three main parts make up water softeners:

  1. Resin bed: Made up of small bead-like materials. The beads will attract and hold positively charged ions(such as sodium), but will exchange them whenever it encounters another positively charged ion such as magnesium and calcium.
  2. Resin tank: Contains the resin bed
  3. Brine tank: Holds the dissolved salt solution that is necessary to “regenerate” the resin (i.e to reverse the ion exchange operation). The salt will force the magnesium and calcium ions to be released, where they are then discharged as waste during the backwashing cycle. The beads will then be ready to once again attract hardness ions from the water.

Conclusion

Chances are you’ll come face to face with hard water and some point in time, but with the right tools, you can reduce the chances of it being a consistent nuisance in your home.

What Happens if I Don’t Change My Air Filter?

goodbadfiltersIf you are like most homeowners, you know that you are supposed to change your air filters about every 3 months.  If you are like me, occasionally, that does not happen!  It’s very easy to overlook this home maintenance task when you are not face to face with the filters every day.

So what’s the big deal?  Do I REALLY need to change them that frequently?  In an effort to answer this, let’s take a look at what happens if you do not.

System Inefficiency & Failure:

When your air filter becomes dirty and clogged with debris, air cannot flow through properly.  This is the number one reason for system inefficiency and failure. The added strain on the fan motor can cause it to overheat and eventually fail to operate. In the mean time, stressing the system forces more energy consumption leading to higher electricity costs and utility bills.

Poor Air Quality:

Today’s air filters are specially designed to remove many harmful contaminates from indoor air.  Allowing your air filters to become dirty decreases contaminate catching efficiency of the filter media. Depending on the MERV rating, contaminates that are removed include:

  • Lint and Dust
  • Pollen
  • Pet Dander
  • Mold
  • Dust Mites
  • Auto Emissions
  • Smoke
  • Bacteria

Dirty House:

Dirt, dust and debris from dirty air filters cause heating and air conditioning system and air ducts to become dirty faster.  This dirt and dust in turn, will be re-circulated into your home out of the ventilation systems causing a much dustier living space.

Bad for the Environment:

Dirty air filters increase your carbon footprint because they force the system to work harder using more energy.

As you can see there are legitimate reasons why it is necessary to replace your furnace and air filters on a regular basis.  Improving indoor air quality by removing harmful contaminates, keeping your house clean longer, saving money on high utility bills and decreasing your carbon footprint are all good reasons to make sure you replace your filters.  Most require either monthly changes or every 3 months.  This will depend on the type of filter you use.  Follow the manufacturer guidelines.

You can visit FiltersFast.com to learn more about air filter MERV ratings, which will help you determine which filters to use, as well as find all standard and custom sized filters and a wide variety of brands to choose from.