Hard Water vs. Soft Water: Which Is Better?

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You may have heard about advantages and disadvantages to hard water vs. soft water. But what does it all mean, and which is better in terms of health, your water heater, and even your hair?

In basic terms, when rain falls, it’s soft. As water makes its way into the ground and through waterways, it picks up a whole host of minerals: calcium, magnesium, chalk, and lime. These minerals are things our bodies need, so drinking hard water isn’t a bad thing.

If you want to soften your water, you can install a water softening device in your home. During the softening process, sodium replaces the minerals of hard water, and water becomes soft. Those on a low-sodium diet could see adverse effects if softened water is regularly used for drinking. However, an 8-ounce glass of soft water will generally stay in the low sodium range set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, according to advice at the Mayo Clinic.

The Differences for Cleaning

More than 85 percent of the United States has hard water, according to the Water Quality Association. The major factors in the hard water vs. soft water debate center around household chores and cleaning tasks. With hard water, you’ll likely find cleaning more difficult, and you’ll be left with buildup on appliances and fixtures.

Hard water has harsh results when you wash your hair and clothes. When you wash your clothes, the detergent doesn’t clean as effectively. The minerals in the water are rough on your clothes, which results in worn-out-looking clothing. Your dishwasher leaves scum and spots on your dishes because the minerals in hard water interfere with the soap. Your bath tub and shower are also left with layers of soap residue.

With hard water, your hair feels rough. Soft water makes your hair feel smoother and cleaner because the shampoo isn’t competing with all those extra minerals in hard water. Clothes feel softer, too.

What’s more, hard water prompts your appliances to work harder, using more energy and causing them to be likely to break down sooner. Eventually, the deposit buildup can clog your pipes.

How Hard Water Affects Your Water Heater

Another victim of hard water is your hot water heater. The minerals in hard water form a deposit at the bottom of the heater, creating a barrier between the parts that do the actual heating and the water. When limescale builds, the water tank doesn’t heat as efficiently.

If you have hard water, you’ll need to flush your tank more frequently than if you have soft water. Because of the mineral buildup, you’ll have to drain your tank every 3 months. With soft water, draining needs to be done only about once a year. Hard water will ultimately shorten your water heater’s life because the heater must work harder and longer than it would with soft water.

For answers to your questions, contact the Pink Plumber today.

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