Because the water in households across the country have different hardness levels, the need for water softeners also varies. Not knowing the distinction can cause a lot of issues in your home, including clogged pipes. If you cannot tell whether or not you need a water softener, here are signs to watch out for.
Dry hair and skin
When you use hard water to bathe and shower, your skin and hair dry up. Hard water is packed with calcium and magnesium salts from which soap and shampoo can only protect you so much.
This is because hard water dries out your skin and prevents nourishment. It does not dissolve soap well, and minerals from the water settle on your skin, so the buildup cannot be removed no matter how often you wash. The residue it leaves causes irritation, making your skin feel rough and dry. It blocks pores, and causes blackheads and inflammation. It will also tarnish your skin like an unrinsed glass in the dishwasher.
Scales on appliances
Scales on household items and appliances are caused by hard water. These are mineral deposits that accumulate on coffee pots, tea kettles and even on the lining of your pipes. The buildup leads to a defective plumbing and clogs house. Check your appliances for a hard, chalky scale, which are made up of magnesium bicarbonate and calcium.
Stains on bathtubs, sinks, and glassware
The minerals in hard water leave stains behind. The stains are the calcium and magnesium left from evaporated tap water, and look like plaster deposits, which are also found on faucets.
Washing your glassware with hard water also stains them and makes the glass look cloudy. The minerals can gradually corrode the glass, making it prone to cracks and breaking. Unchecked buildup on your glassware makes them brittle, too.
Gray and faded clothes
If you notice the colors of your sheets and clothes fade quickly, you must be using hard water. The minerals in hard water make the fabric feel scratchy and hard to wash, especially when there is too much residue. Using a front loader washing machine and liquid detergent, and doing proper laundry techniques can alleviate the grayness, but the minerals would still build up on your clothes.
Spike in your water bill
Hard water can lead to a drastic increase in your water bill even though household consumption is consistent. The buildup in your pipes makes it harder for water to flow through, so your system needs to exert more effort, which then causes your water bill to skyrocket.
Check your location
This is not a sign, but a reliable way to check if you have hard water is through your location. You can refer to the map of water hardness released by the United States Geological Survey or check with the city government for local water hardness maps.
To know how much you need a water softener in Bountiful, Utah, for example, check the water hardness map on the city website, and see if you are in a zone with a high amount of grain per gallon.
Water hardness is not something to neglect. It causes a lot of household problems, which can literally build up to disastrous levels. If you notice most if not all of these signs in your home, it is time to get a water softener.