Hard water is the most frequently reported water-quality problem in the United States. Over 85 percent of the country has water that is hard—high in dissolved minerals picked up as the water traveled through rock and soil. Calcium and magnesium are the two primary contributors, and water is rated according to its content of those minerals, expressed in grains per gallon. Water rated 1.0 to 3.5 gpg is considered slightly hard, while a rating greater than 10.5 gpg is considered very hard.
The problem: In households, hard water manifests in several ways:
- Issues with hard water can range from difficulty shampooing to a film of mineral residue left on fixtures and appliances when the water evaporates.
- Mineral deposits may build up in hot water heaters and reduce the heater’s efficiency, consuming ever-increasing amounts of fuel to heat the same amount of water and raising utility costs.
- Plumbing pipes may also accumulate deposits, narrowing over time. This decreases water flow while increasing pressure inside the pipes. Mineral deposits may cause corrosion in the pipes and plumbing fixtures. The increased pressure, combined with the weakening effect of corrosion, can cause pipes and fittings to leak or rupture.
Water utilities frequently take steps to reduce some of the hardness in municipal water. But these methods often only lower the average gpg of the water to 5 or 6, a level that is still in the moderately hard range.
The softener solution: Only the installation of a home water softener can effectively alleviate the problem. Most conventional water softeners use a caton exchange process in which ions of magnesium and calcium are replaced by ions of sodium. In the water-softening process, the removed magnesium and calcium are backwashed out of the system in a regular regeneration cycle. The frequency of regeneration in a home water softener may be controlled by a set time interval. In some units, a process called demand-initiated regeneration uses a sensor that continuously monitors the mineral content in water and regenerates the system automatically.
Home water softeners are sized according to the amount of household water demand and the average hardness rating of the water supply. A household with four occupants uses about 300 gallons of water per day. If the water supply has a gpg rating of 15, then 4,500 grains of minerals would need to be removed. A home water softener with a typical capacity of 18,000 to 30,000 grains per regeneration could accommodate the mineral removal by regenerating every three to five days.
Aqua Plumbing & Air has served Bradenton and Sarasota residents for almost four decades. Contact us for more information about addressing hard water with water-softener technology. Our expert team of specialists can also help you with your heating, cooling and electrical needs, whether you’re designing a home theater, getting a new HVAC system or looking for quality maintenance.