What Is Hard Water? Why Should We Care?
First off, I hope that all of you, your families, friends, colleagues and neighbors have safely come through Hurricane Wilma’s fury. I know most of us were impacted and many of us are still recovering. My best wishes go out to everyone. I am in the water treatment business and have talked with many people to see what they experienced during and after the storm. More than 30 cities and towns in our area issued boil water orders to protect us from potential contaminants in our water. As I write this in early November, there are still boil water orders in effect and some areas do not yet have running water to homes. It is amazing how much we take our water for granted until we lose it. Back to today’s topic; hard water. Short answers: Hard water is water with certain impurities in it. Most homes have hard water coming into them. We should care because it costs us a lot of money. Longer answers: "Hard water". We hear the term used a lot; but how many of us know what it means? Hard water does not refer to ice (although I’ll grant you that ice is hard). According to the Water Quality Association (WQA), the most common water quality problem reported by consumers throughout the U.S. is hard water. Hard water is a term used to describe water with certain impurities in it. In its purest form, water is just the Hydrogen and Oxygen (H2O) that we all learned about in school. Hard water generally has Calcium and/or Magnesium in it. These are the things that cause the hard water problems. But how does Calcium and Magnesium get into our water in the first place? Because most of our water supply comes from groundwater, it travels through rock and soil picking up minerals, including calcium and magnesium along the way. As this hard water works its way through our pipes and appliances, deposits of Calcium and Magnesium get left behind coating everything the water touches. This includes hot water heaters, dishwashers, clothes washers, shower heads, bathtubs, sinks, faucets, clothing and even us. The result of all this hardness is increased costs to us. These increased costs show up in many different ways. Appliances like washing machines, dishwashers, refrigerators and hot water heaters work less efficiently and breakdown sooner. Fixtures like faucets, showerheads and toilets get a hard buildup, clog and can fail. Our cars, shower doors, glasses, dishes, sinks and tubs get coated with a visible scale caused by the hardness impurities left behind when water evaporates. We wind up using more coffee, tea, milk, sugar, etc. to overcome the taste of the impurities in our drinks. Removing the hardness impurities from our water lets it work more effectively. We wind up with a huge savings in costs for soaps, detergents, shampoos, coffee, tea, juices, etc. and greatly reduced wear on our appliances and fixtures. For many of us, the cost of removing the hardness is actually less than leaving the water alone. What Can I Do? The best thing you can do to find out the quality of your water is to seek out the advice of a reputable water dealer. You should expect to get a free, no obligation to buy anything test of your water. If the dealer finds issues, you should ask for recommendations so you can make an intelligent decision about your alternatives. A good dealer will be able to make recommendations that match your water, your lifestyle and solutions properly. Like a doctor, no one should prescribe a solution without first diagnosing the problem. Your test may reveal that you are fine but without one, you won’t know.
John Schneyer, President and Owner of AQUAtiva of Florida, Inc., a member of the Water Quality Association and the Greater Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce, can be reached at (561) 994-0701 or (800) 518-3990 or John.Schneyer@AQUAtiva.com.