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Hard water versus soft water

Water described as "hard" means it is high in dissolved minerals, specifically calcium and magnesium. These substances leave a hard scale on surfaces that come in contact with the water. The degree of hardness becomes greater as the calcium and magnesium content increases.

Hard water is not a health risk, but is a nuisance because of its tendency to cause mineral buildup in water pipe and heating systems, and its poor soap and/or detergent performance when compared with soft water. Hard water can cause more expense in increased water use and more frequent plumbing repair bills.

Water is a good solvent and picks up impurities easily. When it combines with carbon dioxide in the air to form very weak carbonic acid, an even better solvent results.

As water moves through soil and rock, it dissolves very small amounts of minerals and holds them in solution. Calcium and magnesium dissolved in water are the two most common minerals that make water "hard." The degree of hardness becomes greater as the calcium and magnesium content increases.

True to its name, hard water can hit you—and your pocket—hard. It works against you in most indoor uses, such as bathing, washing dishes, and shaving. Hard water can clog plumbing in appliances, cutting down on efficiency and hiking up energy and maintenance bills. You can tell you have hard water if there's build-up on your sinks and bathtubs, or if you have to use large amounts of soap to clean dishes or wash your hair.

Clothes washed in hard water often look dingy and feel harsh and scratchy. The hardness minerals combine with some soils to form insoluble salts, making them difficult to remove. Soil on clothes can introduce even more hardness minerals into the wash water. Continuous laundering in hard water can damage fibers and shorten the life of clothes by up to 40 percent.

Bathing with soap in hard water leaves a film of sticky soap curd on the skin. The film may prevent removal of soil and bacteria. Soap curd interferes with the return of skin to its normal, slightly acid condition, and may lead to irritation. Soap curd on hair may make it dull, lifeless and difficult to manage.

Hard water also contributes to inefficient and costly operation of water-using appliances. Heated hard water forms a scale of calcium and magnesium minerals (limescale deposits) that can contribute to the inefficient operation or failure of water-using appliances. Pipes can become clogged with scale that reduces water flow and ultimately requires pipe replacement. Limescale has been known to increase energy bills by up to 25%.

Hard water can have a serious impact on your pocketbook. It can shorten the life span of your appliances by as much as 30%, which can lead to costly repairs or replacement. That means a washing machine that should last 13 years may last only nine years because of hard water damage; a dishwasher that should last 10 years may last only seven, and a hot water heater that should last 11 to 13 years may last only eight or nine.

Another factor to consider is the high cost associated with repairing major appliances. How much would you be willing to pay to repair a 5-year-old washing machine? Replacement is often the best option once hard water has wreaked havoc on an appliance. By installing a water softener, you can add more than three years to the life of most of your appliances—and save yourself the expense of replacing them sooner than expected.

Culligan Water Softeners are mechanical water softening units that can be permanently installed into your plumbing system to continuously remove calcium and magnesium.

Water softeners operate on the ion exchange process. In this process, water passes through a media bed, usually sulfonated polystyrene beads. The beads are supersaturated with sodium. The ion exchange process takes place as hard water passes through the softening material. The hardness minerals attach themselves to the resin beads while sodium on the resin beads is released simultaneously into the water.

When the resin becomes saturated with calcium and magnesium, it is recharged. The recharging is done by passing a salt (brine) solution through the resin. The sodium replaces the calcium and magnesium which are discharged in the waste water.

We can determine the hardness of your water when we perform a water analysis. Once we've tested your water supply, the hardness of your water will be reported in grains per gallon, milligrams per liter (mg/l) or parts per million (ppm). One grain of hardness equals 17.1 mg/l or ppm of hardness.

Classification   mg/l or ppm   grains/gal
Soft   0 - 17.1   0 - 1
Slightly hard   17.1 - 60   1 - 3.5
Moderately hard   60 - 120   3.5 - 7.0
Hard   120 - 180   7.0 - 10.5
Very Hard   180 and over   10.5 and over



Culligan of Hannibal    9675 Highway 168 | Hannibal, MO 63401 | (573) 221-1426
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