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The FAQs about Hard Water: A Q&A on Your H2O

What is hard water?Q: What is hard water?

A: Water is “hard” when it contains high levels of naturally occurring minerals, like calcium and magnesium. These minerals are not hazardous to humans; in fact, they are essential nutrients our bodies need to stay healthy.

Q: Why is hard water a problem?

A: Though it's harmless to humans, hard water can wreak havoc on your plumbing and water-using appliances like your dishwasher, washing machine, garbage disposal and ice maker. Calcium and magnesium form hard deposits on the insides of your pipes, faucets and water tanks. Over time, these deposits, called scaling or lime buildup, can restrict your water flow, leading to decreased water pressure, blocked shower heads, and leaky fittings and valves. If left untreated, scaling can lead to expensive plumbing repairs and appliance failure.

Hard water can also affect the efficiency of your water heating systems in two ways. First, the minerals in the water require more energy to heat up than water alone. Second, scaling on heating elements can form an insulating buffer that heaters have to work harder to overcome.

Q: How can I tell if I have hard water?

If you're not already having plumbing problems due to lime buildup, some telltale signs of hard water include spots on your dishes, hard deposits around your drains and shower heads, and soap scum on your tile and tub. You may also notice that soap doesn't lather as easily as it should.

Still not sure? Morton Salt® and other companies offer free hard water tests. Just request one online.

Q: What can I do about my hard water problem?

A: Hard water can be corrected using either a water softener or a water purification system. There are a variety of water softeners available, but they typically work by swapping calcium and magnesium ions for sodium in what's called an “ion exchange.” The amount and type of salt that's added is negligible, and shouldn't be noticeable.

Water purification systems correct hard water by filtering out the extra minerals—along with unwanted chemicals, parasites and other common contaminants. The result is pure, great tasting water that's gentle on your plumbing and property. Call ARS®/Rescue Rooter® today at 1-800-277-9400. We'll help you find the right water softening or water purification system that's right for you.

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