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.

4 Mistakes Homeowners Don’t Know They’re Making

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Sometimes we forget how much an easily prevented mistake can cost us. For example, when leaving for home for an extended period of time, I make every attempt to make sure all lights are off to prevent running up the power bill. Except this time, I didn’t. Needless to say my next power bill was a lot. It was an easily prevented mistake that costs me a lot of money. That mistake isn’t so different from the 4 mistakes that I’ve listed. So whether you are a new homeowner or not, you’ll want to avoid these easily prevented mistakes.

Mistake 1: Carelessly drilling into Walls

Whenever you hang artwork, shelves, or closet systems into one of the walls in your home, did you stop to think what is behind that wall? Hidden inside the walls of your home are wires, duct-work, plumbing pipes, and cables. You can check for some of these things with a stud sensor, but they don’t detect everything. For protection, only drill 1 ¼ inches deep to clear plaster and drywall but not deep enough to reach most pipes and wires.

Mistake 2: Not knowing the depth of your attic insulation (or where it’s even located)

To locate the attic in your home, find the ceiling hatch (a square area framed with molding in a closet ceiling or hallway). Once you’ve found it, you have also found your attic. Go up into the attic and see how much insulation you have. According to houselogic.com, the recommended insulation for most attics is about 10 to 14 inches deep, depending on the type of insulation you choose.

TIP: If you can see the top of joists (any number of small, parallel beams made of timber, steel, concrete, etc.)), you don’t have enough insulation. Also check to make sure your hatch is insulated too.

Mistake 3: Forgetting about Two of the Most Used Items

Your HVAC system and your refrigerator are two of the most used items in your home, so why do so many of forget to maintenance them?  When performing maintenance for your HVAC, inspect everything from the coil, to the fan motor, and more. Refrigerator maintenance is easy too, follow your manufacturers specific guidelines, but they almost always include vacuuming the fan or condenser coils along the bottom of the fridge, cleaning the door gasket, replacing the filter, and more.

TIP: You can’t properly maintain either of these units without replacing their respective filter. Your fridge filter should be replaced every 6 months while your furnace filter should be replaced every 3 months.

Bonus TIP: Each system can be a little different so consult the maker of your HVAC system to make sure you’re following all recommended guidelines.

Mistake 4: Not Knowing where the main water shutoff valve is located

Water damage is one of the most common of all household insurance claims. In the event a broken pipe spills dozens of gallons into your home, you need to locate the main water shutoff valve. This will be located where a water main enters your house. Make sure everyone living in the house knows where it is located and how to close it.

TIP: Penetrating Oil on the valve stem makes sure it’ll work when the time comes.

Bonus TIP: When going out of town, turn off the water to the washing machine to prevent coming home to a flooded house.

There’s a chance we have all made these mistakes in the past, but today’s a new day. Let’s be more of aware and be “smarter” homeowners.