Does Your New Home Have Hard Water? 4 Tell-Tale Signs and Solutions

Water is essential to our health and survival, but you shouldn’t have to compromise taste and your plumbing system for quality drinking water. Millions of homes receive what’s known as “hard water” around the US that can damage pipes, leave lime scale buildup, and ruin the taste of drinking water. But how do you know if you have hard water, and what can you do to prevent it? Here are four tips and tricks for reversing hard water damage and providing your house with fresh and potable water.

Lime scale or Corrosion in Bathroom

Hardwater-bathroom

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If your shower head has gunk buildup like in the one seen above, or if you start to see a thin layer of white lime scale forming on the walls and door of your shower, then you’re most likely the recipient of hard water. These formations appear when droplets of hard water evaporate from your surfaces and leave behind calcium and magnesium deposits (the naturally-occuring minerals that make water “hard”). Remedying these problems are simple?make a 50/50 solution of water and white vinegar, then wipe down the problem areas. It also helps to fill an empty spray bottle so you can apply the solution to large sections of your bathroom, if the problem is widespread. Repeat as necessary.

 

Clogged or Damaged Pipes

Hardwater-pipes

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Like in your shower or on your water faucets, hard water can leave buildups of dissolved minerals on the inside of your pipes, as well. These deposits grow and reduce the efficiency of your plumbing and heating systems over time. This will manifest itself as weaker streams of water exiting your shower head and faucets.

In extreme cases, the lime scale buildup can clog your plumbing entirely. The combination of pressure and corrosion will cause damage to your pipes, including holes and fractures from all the mineral deposits. You could go with a temporary solution such as over-the-counter chemical products designed to clear out pipes, but that doesn’t necessarily prevent future problems. Rather, whole house filters offer convenient solutions that permanently remove harmful minerals from your water for every room of your home.

Excessively Dry Hair and Skin

Hardwater-dry

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Fill up a bottle with tap water, add some dish soap and shake vigorously. If you have a difficult time making suds appear, you most likely have hard water. One of the most frequent complaints associated with hard water is the damaging effect it has on hair and skin. Because materials in hard water make it more difficult for suds to appear and do their jobs, soaps and personal care products used in the bathroom will not work as efficiently, making it harder for the products to moisturize your hair.

Plus, the minerals in hard water will naturally leach moisture from your hair and skin. Until you install a whole house filter, your next best option is use a chelating shampoo that contains the ingredient EDTA. You could also try making your own vinegar-based shampoo and conditioner that will work to break up the mineral deposits in your hair and skin, much like the method used to treat lime scale in bathrooms.

Strange and Unusual Water Taste

Hardwater-taste

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The presence of various minerals and compounds in hard water can have a noticeable effect on the way it tastes. For example, high levels of chlorides in water (usually put in place to keep it potable) can leave it with a salty taste. Hydrogen sulfide in water can lend a bit of a rotten egg odor, sulfuric taste, and actually accelerate pipe corrosion.
Sodium is also a frequent culprit behind salty water taste, and can lead to blood pressure and hypertension problems if you drink too much over a long period of time. Due to their molecular composition, some of these materials in hard water can’t be removed by boiling water. Again, this is where whole house filters come in handy.

Whether hard water is detrimental to your overall health is debatable, but there’s no doubt that it can lead to excessive household damage and unpleasant taste. Look into whole house filters for eradicating pesky contaminants from your entire home.

What’s the Foul Smell Associated With the Water Heater?

Water-heaterThere’s nothing worse than foul smelling water in your house. The smell permeates everything. We use water from our tap for drinking, washing, and a number of other things. If there is something wrong, it can cause major problems for you. Rather than dealing with the problem, do something about it. As the holiday season approaches, you don’t want to be left with a large mess, especially if you are having guests over. Address the problem sooner rather than later.

If you smell a rotten egg stench coming from your tap, or from your utility closet, there is a good chance that the water heater is the problem. Get this solved as quickly as possible. Letting the smell continue longer than necessary will only do more damage.

Finding the source

Most of the time, the rotten egg smell will be caused from the hot water heater. There are a few cases however where this is not true. Before calling a professional, or tearing the water heater apart, verify that that is indeed where the smell is coming from.

To ensure your water heater is the source of the problem, fill a glass with hot water, and another glass with cold water from the sink closest to the heater. Make sure to allow enough time between filling them to ensure the smell doesn’t cross over. Smell both glasses to see which one smells worse. If the smell is obviously coming from the hot water sample, and is unnoticeable in the cold water, your problem is related to the water heater.

Fixing the problem

This issue with water heaters is more common than many people would think. Hard water is the main cause. When the iron particles breakdown, the water begins smelling worse. The more iron you have in your water, the harder it is, making the smell difficult to deal with.

Before you run out and get a new water heater to mend the problem, there are a couple of things that can be done. There is an anode rod made of magnesium that helps to protect the lining of the tank. As a result, this rod corrodes, causing the iron to be eaten by bacteria. The smell is released through this process, causing more damage than good as far as taste goes. In some cases, the rod can be completely removed.

Even with this rod out, there is a chance sulfate-reducing bacteria could still be inside the hot water heater. This will cause the problem to remain, feeding off the hard water. To solve this problem, raise the temperature about 140 degrees Fahrenheit for at least eight hours. Make sure to avoid using hot water in the home during this time, to prevent scalding. Before starting, make everybody in the house aware of what you are doing, keeping you and your family safe. These temperatures are way above what the hot water heater should normally be set to. If the problem persists past this point, it may be necessary to contact a professional to drain your hot water heater.

Timing is everything

Dealing with a malfunctioning water heater can be difficult. You don’t realize how often you use it until it’s gone. Before the problem gets too out of hand, make sure you have a grip on the situation. Rather than wasting time and money, fix the problem as soon as it comes.

Whether you are traveling for the holidays, or you have family and friends coming to your home, you don’t want the problem festering for longer than necessary. It is much easier to fix the smell and cover that up than a full on flood caused by a faulty water heater. Be sure to address the problem prior to company, making the experience less stressful for you, and more enjoyable for everybody.

Maintain your hot water heater properly to ensure it will continue working for years to come. Hard water can be damaging, so do all you can to protect the heater. If you notice a foul smell coming from your water supply, do the research to find the source. There are a couple of different ways to fix the problem, find the one that works best for your hot water heater.

Cassie writes on the various plumbing projects that can be done on your own around the house, and when to call a professional. She has researched the best Salt Lake City plumbers to find the most common causes of hot water heater problems.