Everyone knows there are good guys and bad guys. Spiderman has the Green Goblin, Superman has Lex Luthor, and Batman has The Joker. There are good guys and bad guys in the world of plumbing too! Introducing: hard water and soft water. This is a complex story of good and evil, which may not be as black and white as it first appears.
Simply put, hard water is water which has high mineral content. Typically, as water percolates through the ground, it moves through substances such as chalk and limestone, and picks up particulates like calcium and magnesium carbonate. Water hardness usually depends on location. Some towns may have particularly hard water, while others may not face the problem at all. There is permanent, and temporary water hardness, which can be dealt with in different ways. Long term use of hard water will cause thick, hard calcium buildups which are not only unsightly, but may cause long term damage to plumbing.
Temporary hardness can be address rather easily. Boiling has a chance to remedy a number of the causes of temporary hardness. If that doesn’t work, lime softening is a popular alternative. Lime, or calcium hydroxide, is added to temporarily hard water, the minerals contributing to hardness interact with the lime, and the problem will be solved! Permanent hardness is usually caused by calcium sulfate which cannot be removed by boiling. A water softening system, or ion exchange column must be used to address permanent water hardness.
Is Hard Water Really all that Evil?
Surprisingly, the consumption of hard water may actually possess some health benefits! Trace amounts of calcium and magnesium can function as dietary supplements. Calcium has been well documented as being a crucial contributor to bone health, and magnesium may have beneficial cardiovascular health properties. It is almost always recommended that homeowners address hard water. Your best option is to call a professional plumber, have your unique situation analyzed, and proceeded based on the recommendations of the plumber.