Most of us take the water that comes out of our faucets for granted. But have you ever considered the toll it's taking on your home or your body? Read on to discover the devastating effects of the mineral-rich hard water found in 85 percent of American homes.
Hard Water Irritates Your Skin
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The high calcium and magnesium levels of hard water dry out skin, which can result in irritation. Because hard water inhibits the lathering properties of cleaning solutions, people who shower with it often tend to use more soaps. Both of these factors result in hard water triggering the symptoms of eczema, rosacea, and acne in anyone with sensitive skin. These minerals can also speed up the aging process by creating wrinkles and fine lines.
The minerals in hard water also act as free radicals when they come into contact with skin. They'll attack healthy skin cells and, in time, reduce your skin's ability to protect itself.
Hard Water Damages Your Hair
Microscopic scales make up each strand of hair. These stand up in hard water, making the hair feel rough and tangled. In this state, it's more difficult to rinse shampoo or conditioner from the hair. This can leave hair feeling sticky.
Just as you tend to use more soap when washing with hard water while bathing, you'll also need to use more shampoo or conditioner to achieve a lather. The most effective lathers come from products rich in chemicals, which strip hair of its natural oils along with dirt and grime. This can leave hair appearing dull and lifeless.
The minerals in hard water dry out the hair and scalp, increasing the risk of hair breakage and dandruff. They also make perms fall out sooner and hair dyes fade faster, forcing you to visit the salon more often.
By using distilled water or water treated with a drinking water purification system to rinse your hair, you'll minimize the damage.
Hard Water Clogs Your Pipes
The calcium in hard water can leach out and form a build-up of lime scale in your water pipes. This is especially common in the pipes leading from hot water appliances, since lime scale more readily forms in warm and hot water.
The scale begins to close up the pipe, letting less water run through it. If left untreated, it can clog it entirely. A study by the Battelle Institute, an American applied science and technology development group, found scaling caused shower heads that used hard water to lose three-quarters of their flow rate in less than 18 months.
Scale can also build up inside the faucet. Aside from inhibiting water flow, scale can prevent you from shutting your faucet off. In cases like this, you may notice your faucet dripping even with new washers.
In extreme cases, the lime scale minerals can wear right through water pipes and create small holes. Water can leak from these pipes for some time before you're aware of the problem.
Hard Water Makes Your Bathroom Dirty
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The lime scale that's building up in your pipes is also making your bathroom look unsightly. When drops of hard water dry on your bathroom surfaces, they leave their minerals behind. This creates unsightly limescale spots.
Hard water also produces more soap scum, and as the lime scale gives it a handy place to stick to, this bathroom scourge builds up much faster. Reacting with soaps, the minerals of hard water create stubborn bathtub rings and plug hole stains.
If your bathroom has hard water, you'll find you're frequently scrubbing to keep it clean.
Hard Water Kills Your Appliances
Hard water also causes lime scale to build up in any appliances that use water, including dishwashers, coffee makers, and washing machines. This reduces the lifespan of these appliances significantly. For example, toilet flushing units that use hard water have their lifespan cut by almost a third. Faucets also have their lifespan cut by about 60 percent when hard water runs through them.
“Water with a high mineral count is really hard on your appliances and can take years off their useful lives,” affirmed Angie Hicks, founder of the consumer review website Angie's List.
Hard water can ravage your home and body, but taking preventative measures can ensure you don't suffer these damaging effects.