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You just moved into a new place and you notice something is not quite right. There’s something going on, and you have a sneaking suspicion it might have to do with the tap water.

Hard water problems can be a real hassle, especially for new homeowners who may be unfamiliar with the issues it causes. Solving those problems can vastly improve your family’s quality of life and get things back to normal again.

So What is Hard Water?

We all learned in school that water is H2O – two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom make up a water molecule, right? What many of us don’t realize is that extra stuff can get into the water we drink. Some of it is perfectly safe to consume, while other water contaminants could negatively impact your family’s health. But tap water is certainly not 100% pure H20.

Hard water is basically water containing a high mineral count. Groundwater often percolates through limestone where it picks up calcium and magnesium deposits.

Drinking water can also contain trace minerals like iron, which gets picked up from the soil, lakes and rivers – even older, corroded plumbing. In some regions, hard water may also contain manganese or aluminum.

Of course, things like calcium, magnesium and iron aren’t necessarily bad for you. In fact, they’re actually beneficial nutrients. However, hard water sediments can also carry potentially harmful bacteria along with them. A study found hard water scaling is directly responsible for bacterial growth in residential drinking water.

If your home gets water from a well, you most likely have hard water. But it’s not just a rural issue. The U.S. Geological Survey says 85% of homes in the nation have hard water.

Here are eight potential problems hard water causes. Do any of them sound familiar?

1. Your Water Tastes or Smells Funny


Funny-tasting water

A strange odor or taste to drinking water is often one of the first clues you have a water conditioning problem. It’s a sure-sign there is hard water or some sort of bacterial contaminant.

For instance, if your water has an unpleasant metallic taste. That’s probably too much iron.

If your water smells like rotten eggs, that could be naturally occurring hydrogen sulfide gas or certain bacteria reacting with magnesium to form sulfates.

Some people say their water tastes like dirt.

That could be sediment (actual dirt), old pipes or algae. Algal blooms can also give tap water a moldy aftertaste.

No one likes to drink water with a funky smell or flavor. But that’s just the beginning of your problems.

2. You’re Getting Strange Stains

hard water stains


If there is iron in your water, you probably know it! Iron can cause rusty water, which leaves black, orange, or red stains on your plumbing fixtures, toilets, and other surfaces. This mineral can also give you water that tastes like metal. And when you have iron, you can typically have manganese in the water as well. Manganese is more difficult to remove from the water and it leaves brown or black stains. Neither iron nor manganese is desirable in your water.

Ugly brown or reddish stains on the porcelain are a big embarrassment.

Hard water stains

You can blame hard water for that too – specifically iron.

It’s no coincidence those stains look a lot like rust spots. The iron in your water could be coming from rusty pipes.

You’ll have to use a lot of elbow grease to get rid of those stains.

Some people suggest using vinegar to help clean and remove them. Unfortunately, the stains will keep reappearing until you fix your hard water problem.


Found in many species of plants and often released into the soil and water when vegetation decomposes, tannin in water can be difficult to remove. These bio molecules give water a yellow or brownish tint and often make it taste bitter, but they are not a health risk. 
The term tannin refers to the use of oak and other bark in tanning animal hides into leather.

3. You’re Constantly Cleaning Up Soap Scum

hard water cleaning

Water Hardness Guide

Classificationmg/l or ppmgrains/gal
Soft0 – 17.10 – 1
Slightly hard17.1 – 601 – 3.5
Moderately hard60 – 1203.5 – 7.0
Hard120 – 1807.0 – 10.5
Very Hard180 & over10.5 & ov

In most cases, a water softener is the cure for hard water problems.  If you don’t want to use salt, you cannot soften the water, but you can lessen the impact of hard with a salt less softener, you will have to replaced the media in 1 to 3 years.

Soap scum frustration

Another unsightly issue is the appearance of those white, hard water spots.

That’s what you get when water evaporates and leaves calcium deposits behind.

When you have hard water, you’ll notice nasty soap scum seems to accumulate all over the place. That’s because soap and the minerals in hard water just don’t play nicely together.

If your dishes are always spotty, it may not be your dishwasher, it’s probably your water. What’s worse – soap scum left on shower curtains can lead to the development of a microbial biofilm that might contain disease-spreading bacteria.

With hard water, you may find yourself cleaning the bathroom and kitchen more often and using more cleaning product to get the job done. Who wants to do that?

4. Your Showering Experience Suffers


No lather. No water pressure.

Showering is your time to escape the world for ten minutes to wash the dirt and worries away. But when you have hard water, shower time can be ruined.

As we’ve mentioned, minerals cause hard water to react ineffectively with soap.

This makes it harder to get a good lather when you bathe. It also makes it more difficult to wash all the soap off your body, leaving a film of soapy residue on your skin.

Deposits from hard water can clog up your shower head too. That means weaker water pressure.

With hard water, you may not be getting as clean and you may notice your hair is hard to manage. Yes, hard water could even be responsible for your bad hair days.


5. Your Pipes Keep Getting Clogged

hard water scale

Plumbing problems

Showerheads aren’t the only things that can get clogged up thanks to hard water.

It can cause major plumbing issues as well.

Scale deposits build up inside your pipes, like plaque inside an artery, constricting the flow of water, eventually leading to backups and the need to call a plumber for help.

If you have PVC or copper pipes, this probably is not an issue. It’s most-common with older, steel pipes.

6. Your Clothes Aren’t Getting Clean


Laundry issues

Hard water can have a negative impact on laundry – and once again – it’s all due to the rocky relationship minerals like calcium and magnesium have with soap and detergent.

Soap is used to wash away dirt and grime, but when soap doesn’t get rinsed off, it can actually increase soil build up on your clothes.

Clothes washed in hard water often appear dingy and wear out faster. It can even make your towels scratchy and rough.

When you have hard water, you may have to buy detergent formulated to soften the water for you.  However, you’ll likely have to use more laundry detergent (and hotter water) to get your clothes clean. It’s even advised that people with hard water use four times as much detergent.

Plus, just as iron stains your bathroom fixtures, it can stain your clothes. Premature yellowing of your whites could be caused by iron content in the water. When combined with bleach, iron oxidizes, and iron oxide is just another name for rust.


7. Your Family Has Skin Irritation Issues

hard water skin

Hard on sensitive skin

Because washing in hard water will leave soap behind, it causes people’s skin to get dried out and itchy.

Mineral deposits left on the body can also suck moisture right out of your skin.

The skin condition eczema is fairly common, especially among younger children.

There is research indicating that bathing in hard water could cause eczema symptoms to worsen.

Another study concluded exposure to hard water could increase the risk of developing eczema in elementary-school-age children.

8. Your Appliances Are Wearing Out Quickly

dishwasher worn out

Appliance wear-and-tear

This might be the most expensive hard water problem of all. Those scale deposits can wreak havoc on many appliances in your home, from the dishwasher to the hot water heater.

A build up of sediment in your water heater can make it far less efficient. The same goes for other appliances. Poor efficiency means bigger utility bills.

The icemaker in your fridge can stop working as scale deposits clog up valves. The American Water Works Association says hard water can cause a washing machine to wear out 30% faster than normal.

It’s not difficult to see how hard water can cost you money in the long run. In fact, it’s estimated hard water expenses could cost you $800 or more every year.

How Water Conditioning Could Help

There are different solutions to different problems, but there’s only one perfect answer to all your hard water issues. That would be installing a water softener in your home.

Water softeners remove things like calcium, magnesium and iron from your water as it comes in from the source. It’s an investment that could save you headaches as well as money.

There are also other types of water conditioning products, like a reverse osmosis system, which can help eliminate potentially harmful contaminants.

If you’re ready to look into the possibility of a water softener in your home, or if you simply have questions about the options available, see our all of our quality product lines below to find a water conditioning expert near you.

So, you’re sick of dealing with hard water problems and need a water softener… but what does that mean?

There are a lot of good reasons to soften your home’s water as hard water problems can wreak havoc on your plumbing, as well as your hair and skin, while making it harder to keep the house clean. For a list of areas in your home affected by hard water.

If you’re going to install a softener in your home to take care of these issues, you might want to know what is going on inside of it.

Hard Water vs. Soft Water

There’s more in your home’s water than just H2O. Water quality differs depending on where you live and whether you’re getting water from a municipality or a private well. Both sources are known to contain hardness minerals.

Minerals in water are what makes certain water considered “hard.” Calcium and magnesium are the most common minerals found in water. Typically, minerals get there because groundwater will dissolve rock like limestone, or metals, like iron and the remnants travel with the water until it is in your home.

Those dissolved solids can cause a scaly buildup on everything from dishes, to pipes, to the heating elements of your appliances, to your own body. Soap scum and clogged, corroded plumbing are usually the result of hard water.

Water softeners remove those hard minerals making it easier to clean your home and your laundry, while prolonging the life of appliances that use water.

How Hard Water Becomes Soft – The Ion Exchange Process

So how do water softeners get the minerals out? This is where the incredible science of residential water treatment comes into play!

Water softeners use a process called ion exchange to remove things like calcium, magnesium, iron, and manganese – replacing them with sodium ions.

Ions are atoms or molecules that carry either a positive or negative charge because there’s an imbalance between electrons and protons. Cations have a positive charge and anions have a negative charge.

Calcium (Ca+2), magnesium (Mg+2), iron (Fe+3), and sodium (Na+) are all positively charged cations. However, sodium has a much weaker charge, which allows for the exchange.

WHEN DO I NEED TO REPLACED OR REPAIR A WATER SOFTENER 😐 water softeners perform an extremely important job, removing minerals such as calcium and magnesium from the water in your home. Just like any other appliance, a water softener will only last for so long. Eventually, components break, electrical problems occur, and it just stops working.

While they can last much longer if well maintained, water softeners have a typical lifespan of between 10 and 15 years. If your water softener was installed more than a decade ago, replacing it may be the right option.

How long a water softener lasts will also depend greatly on how much it is used, which is dictated by the quality of your home’s water. If you are softening extremely hard water or well water with iron, your equipment may need to be replaced sooner.

As there is no definite time when you should replace a water softener, it is important to learn how to spot the signs of your water softener starting to fail.

Common Signs Your Water Softener Isn’t Working Properly

There are several sure-signs that your home’s water softener isn’t producing the quality of water you’d expect. Yet, noticing these signs may not mean your water softener needs to be replaced. It could mean your softener simply needs servicing.

There might be a certain component that can be replaced, you may need to replace the media, or you simply forgot to add salt in the brine tank. Valves can become jammed or the softener could require cleaning. If you’re unsure of the problem, contact your local residential water treatment experts and have them look at your situation.

Here are four things to watch for that could indicate your water softener needs to be serviced or replaced.

1. Not Enough Lather

One of the telltale signs of hard water is soap refusing to lather. If you notice that you are having a hard time soaping up in the shower, you may need to check your water softener. You may notice that you are going through shampoo and soap a lot faster than usual, as you need to use more to make a decent lather.

2. Laundry Problems

washing with hard water can make them stiff and scratchy. Fabric softener can counteract this stiffness to some extent, but a more effective solution is to make sure your water softener is functioning properly to effectively remove the minerals that are making the clothes stiff.

Hard water can damage a washing machine as well as other appliances such as hot water heaters and dishwashers. To protect those appliances, it is important to check to make sure your water softener is functioning properly.

3. Crusty Buildup Around Pipes and Faucets

The minerals that are naturally present in hard water can cause a crusty buildup around your pipes and faucets. Pay attention to your faucets when you are cleaning the kitchen and bathroom. If you notice a chalky substance building up around them, this could be a sign that you need to take a look at your softener.

4. Your Water Tastes Different

Hard water tastes different than soft water. Some people prefer the smooth taste of soft water and will notice if the water supply to their home begins to have increased mineral content. If you’re drinking water straight from the tap, pay attention to changes in taste, as it could mean your softener needs to be serviced or replaced.

Benefits of a New Water Softener

Replacing an old water softener can make your life at home much easier. If your water hasn’t been getting properly softened, it means you’ve likely been dealing with hard water like those mentioned above.

A new water softener could make it easier to keep your house clean, provide you with softer clothes, and better hair and skin. It also helps ensures your water-using appliances last at least as long as you’d expect.

Getting a new water softener also allows you to take advantage of updated features and technologies in water treatment. Much like upgrading a furnace, most modern day furnaces will be more efficient than one 15 years old. Water softeners are the same way, but there are even more advanced features as well. For example, you could purchase a water softener equipped with a water meter,ozone generator ,chlorine pump controller , and many other options , helping you save on salt and conserve water. Salt monitors can alert you when you need to add salts .

Are You Happy with Your Home’s Water Quality?

If you have complaints about your home’s water quality, there’s a good chance there may be more than just hardness causing your frustration.

Some people assume water softeners can fix a variety of problems, but these systems are specifically designed to remove hard minerals. Other problems, such as excessive iron, acidity, and the level of total dissolved solids (TDS) will require additional filtration. So it is possible your water softener is working correctly and a different type of equipment is needed.

While some people like the taste of soft water, the best way to get high quality drinking water in your home is to install a reverse osmosis system, which will reduce many contaminants and make water taste great.

Water quality changes over time. If you are thinking of replacing your water softener or having it serviced, it is a good idea to get your home’s water evaluated so you get the right water treatment equipment. Experts from AguaBert can give you reliable advice and recommend the right solutions.