If you’ve noticed that your skin does not feel completely clean after a shower or that there’s a white film on your drains, it’s a good indication that you have hard water at home. Hard water refers to water with suspended minerals like calcium and magnesium. While this type of water is safe to use, it can affect many different aspects of your life, including your showering routine, doing dishes, washing clothes, and the lifetime of your appliances and plumbing.

What Makes Water Become Hard?

As water naturally travels throughout the soil, it will absorb any minerals that it comes into contact with along the way. Magnesium and calcium are the most prominent minerals that water usually comes in contact with. The higher the content of these minerals, the harder the water is classified as.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has a classification guide for measuring water hardness that includes four main levels: soft, moderately hard, hard, and very hard. Soft water will have between 0 and 60 milligrams per liter of mineral deposits. On the other end of the spectrum, water with mineral deposits over 180 milligrams per liter is considered to be very hard.

How Does Hard Water Affect Your Home

Before we discuss some of the preventative steps you can take, as well as some treatment steps to remedy hard water problems, it’s important that we first discuss how hard water affects your home.


One of the most common ways that hard water is going to affect your household is your plumbing. As hard water travels through your pipes, it will leave behind some of the minerals it contains. This shedding of deposits will result in a white limescale buildup that may look like chalk. Over time, this limescale buildup will attract items like soap scum or loose hair, which will build up until it eventually forms clogs in your pipes.

Faucets and Showerheads

If you have hard water in your home, you’ve likely noticed a white limescale buildup on your showerheads and faucets. Apart from being unsightly and requiring constant cleaning, this can also create a bigger issue if left unattended. Over time, this buildup will clog some of the spray jets in your faucets and showerheads, eventually reducing water pressure.

Poor Cleaning

Hard water can make cleaning a real challenge, whether trying to clean your clothes or the dishes. Hard water deposits can leave a powdery residue on your clothing or dishes. This residue may also be evident on floors after you mop them. If you have hard water in your home, it is also responsible for your hair not being as soft as it should be after a shower.

In addition, the minerals in hard water can settle into clothing. Over time, this may cause discoloration and make clothes look faded. On top of that, it builds up in the cloth over multiple trips through the washing machine, making it almost impossible to remove.

Tips on Preventing Hard Water in Your Home

If you’ve dealt with hard water for any amount of time, you’re likely looking for a quick solution to get rid of it. Fortunately, there are solutions. The best way to handle hard water is to put preventative steps in place to avoid having to use hard water for things like showers and cleaning your dishes. There are currently a few different options that you have to choose from when it comes to preventing hard water in your home.

Water Softener

Probably the most commonly used method for preventing hard water from reaching your plumbing is to have a water softener installed. A professional will integrate one in the main water line of your house, close to the main shut-off valve. A water softener will have specialized ion exchange beads that need to be regularly rejuvenated.

As the water enters your water softener, it will flow over these beads. The sodium ions that are held in the beads attract calcium and magnesium, which are problematic hard water mineral deposits. As these hard water deposits attach to the beads, the remaining water will flow through the rest of the water softener and out to the pipes in your home.

While a water softener is a fairly easy system to have installed, it does require regular maintenance on your part. Attached to the water softener is a large salt-holding tank. All the beads that have attracted mineral deposits are flushed through this salt tank. This rejuvenation process removes the mineral deposits from the beads and allows them to be recirculated back into the softener.

Magnetic Water Conditioner

Another readily available option to deal with hard water at your home is to have a magnetic water conditioner installed. Just like the water softener, this will need to be placed close to the main water valve. This placement will help to ensure that all the water coming into your home is properly treated before it reaches any of your faucets or appliances.

Magnetic Water Conditioner technology is relatively simple. As the hard water flows through the conditioner, it creates an energy field that changes the structure of mineral deposits like calcium and magnesium. This alteration prevents the deposits from turning into limescale when they dry out. Thus, water can run through your plumbing system, and no mineral deposits will be left behind.

Whole Home Water Filtration System

Another simple way to help treat hard water in your home is to have a whole home water filtration system installed. It’s important to note that there are many different types of whole-home water filtration systems. You’ll want to choose one that is specifically designed to address water hardness.

This type of filtration system will work to remove mineral sediments from your water to help soften it. It does this by using mechanical filtration, where the pores of the filter are extremely small. It captures mineral deposits before they can continue into your home’s plumbing. The filters on these systems need to be changed when they fill with sediment.

How to Treat Existing Hard Water Stains

If you’ve been using hard water at your home for any amount of time, it’s likely that your faucets, showerheads, and even appliances have hard water stains on them. They will have to be dealt with once a professional installs your new water softener or filtration system. To remove this limescale buildup, you can purchase over-the-counter cleaning products designed for this purpose. Alternatively, mix one part lemon juice or vinegar with four parts water. Put the solution in a spray bottle, spritz it onto the affected area, and then scrub it with a sponge or cloth.

When it comes to cleaning your appliances, like your washing machine or espresso machine, you’ll want to invest in a specific limescale removal product. These typically come as compact tablets or liquids that are intended to be run through the appliance to remove hard water deposits.

Let the Professionals Help

At Southport Home Services, we have a staff of expert plumbers who would be more than happy to assist you with all your plumbing needs in Madison. We can also help with your heating, cooling, bathroom remodeling, and indoor air quality needs. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment with a member of our team.

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Thomas Suchla
Thomas Suchla


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