What are the disadvantages of hard water? (with photos)

A glass of hard water, which contains calcium and magnesium.

Many people have hard water at home. The term refers to water that has a high concentration of certain minerals. Disadvantages of hard water include aesthetic issues such as unsightly stains, stains and films on dishes and dull, faded clothing. Hard water can also cause other more serious problems with plumbing and appliances that can cost a home owner money.

Hard water can decrease the effectiveness of laundry detergents.

When people have hard water, it means that there is a naturally high concentration of minerals like calcium carbonate, magnesium and iron in the water itself. This condition does not necessarily pose health risks. There are, however, certain disadvantages to hard water that people find a nuisance. One of the biggest problems is the buildup that minerals leave behind.

In electric water heaters, the buildup of hard water scale can cause the elements to burn out prematurely.

Depending on concentration levels, minerals contained in hard water often create visible residue. Many people notice brown or rust-colored stains in areas like toilets, bathroom sinks, and showers. These stains can be difficult to remove, and even after thorough cleaning, they return quickly. Stains often continue to return unless the water is treated in a way that lowers the concentration of minerals.

Hard water can be treated with a water softener that removes many of the minerals that make water hard.

Those who have hard water at home often notice that their clothes are dull and grimy, although they use products and detergents designed to brighten the colors. They may also notice that clothing feels stiff or rough. Those are the two disadvantages of hard water. Minerals in water decrease the effectiveness of laundry detergents and also permeate fabrics, giving many comfortable clothes a rough, abrasive feel.

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Hard water can corrode pipes and cause leaks.

Likewise, when dishes are washed in the dishwasher, people who have hard water often notice light films or water stains, especially on glasses. In this case, not only does hard water interfere with the effectiveness of the dishwashing soap, but the heat helps the water release the minerals, which then stick to the dishes, giving them a thin, stained appearance. While this condition can be unsightly and inconvenient, it does not pose any health threat.

Hard water often creates visible residue, such as in toilet bowls.

While some hard water disadvantages are just a nuisance, there are certain problems that can result in serious and expensive problems. For example, one of the main concerns with hard water is the effect it has on the efficiency of appliances such as the water heater. Over time, minerals build up in the water heater, forming a flaky layer, sometimes called limestone. This layer, in turn, reduces the unit’s ability to heat water as it should, and therefore lowers its overall efficiency. Over time, the heater uses more energy and works less efficiently, costing the home owner money.

Hard water is actually healthier to drink than soft water, but it can cause problems for domestic water systems and facilities.

Just as minerals build up inside appliances like a water heater, they also build up inside plumbing fixtures. Over time, the water may flow more and more slowly until the pipe itself becomes blocked. If this occurs, the tubes can burst, requiring expensive repairs. Likewise, buildup of materials can corrode certain types of pipes, causing damage and leaks.

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Wash metal pipes to remove salt that naturally builds up over time.

There are several commercial water softeners available to help lessen the disadvantages of hard water. Unfortunately, many water softeners contain salt, and as a result, water treated with water softener can be unsafe for people with conditions such as high blood pressure, who must watch out for their salt intake. Also, some people claim that despite the inconveniences and potential problems, hard water is actually healthier to drink due to its mineral content.

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