Water Hardness

Hard water interferes with almost every cleaning task from laundering and dishwashing to bathing and personal grooming. Clothes laundered in hard water may look dingy and feel harsh and scratchy. Dishes and glasses may be spotted when dry. Hard water may cause a film on glass shower doors, shower walls, bathtubs, sinks, faucets, etc. Hair washed in hard water may feel sticky and look dull. Water flow may be reduced by deposits in pipes.

Dealing with hard water problems in the home can be a nuisance.  The amount of hardness minerals in water affects the amount of soap and detergent necessary for cleaning.  Soap used in hard water combines with the minerals to form a sticky soap curd. Some synthetic detergents are less effective in hard water because the active ingredient is partially inactivated by hardness, even though it stays dissolved.   Bathing with soap in hard water leaves a film of sticky soap curd on the skin. The film may prevent removal of soil and bacteria. Soap curd interferes with the return of skin to its normal, slightly acid condition, and may lead to irritation. Soap curd on hair may make it dull, lifeless and difficult to manage.

When doing laundry in hard water, soap curds lodge in fabric during washing to make fabric stiff and rough.  Incomplete soil removal from laundry causes graying of white fabric and the loss of brightness in colors. A sour odor can develop in clothes. Continuous laundering in hard water can shorten the life of clothes.  In addition, soap curds can deposit on dishes, bathtubs and showers, and all water fixtures.

Hard water also contributes to inefficient and costly operation of water-using appliances. Heated hard water forms a scale of calcium and magnesium minerals that can contribute to the inefficient operation or failure of water-using appliances. Pipes can become clogged with scale that reduces water flow and ultimately requires pipe replacement.

Interpreting Test Results

The hardness of your water will be reported in grains per gallon, milligrams per liter (mg/l) or parts per million (ppm). One grain of hardness equals 17.1 mg/l or ppm of hardness.

Classification mg/l or ppm grains/gal
Soft 0 - 17.1 0 - 1
Slightly hard 17.1 - 60 1 - 3.5
Moderately hard 60 - 120 3.5 - 7.0
Hard 120 - 180 7.0 - 10.5
Very hard 180 & over 10.5 & over

 

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