If you’ve ever heard anyone mentioning the terms “hard water” and “soft water,” you might be confused. After all, it’s all just water. How can it be hard or soft? Is there a difference between hard and soft water anyway?
These are terrific questions, and if you’re asking them, then you’re already on the right track. Hard water and soft water are terms we use to describe the mineral content of water, and there is certainly a difference between the two. While it might be easy to brush off these differences as distant, scientific and far removed from your daily experience, the exact opposite is true. The nature of your water impacts many areas of your home and life, and today, we want to talk about them.
This article discusses hard water versus soft water, as well as why you might consider choosing soft water and, once you’ve made that choice, how to achieve soft water.
What Are the Benefits of Soft Water?
Why use a water softener? After all, we mentioned earlier that the collection of minerals in the water aren’t harmful to ingest. So you might wonder why you should bother removing them at all. Soft water has numerous advantages. Here are just a few of the benefits you’ll experience when you choose to install a water softener on your plumbing system.
1. Protect Your Home and Plumbing
Incorporating soft water into your home isn’t just good for you. It’s also great for your plumbing systems. While hard water is harsh and filled with foreign contaminants that eat away at your plumbing, soft water is far gentler, resulting in significantly less strain on your entire plumbing system. Here are just a few of the ways soft water can protect your plumbing fixtures:
- Increasing your plumbing’s lifespan: Facilitating the flow of hard water day in and day out is hard work for your plumbing. The constant stream of harsh minerals takes its toll on the pipes and fixtures, resulting in a greatly shortened lifespan. Just by switching to soft water, you can protect your plumbing fixtures and easily increase the average lifespan of your plumbing system.
- Decreasing the amount of maintenance: How often do you need to deal with clogged pipes or toilets? How often do you have overflows? Problems like these can be caused by a buildup of calcium and other minerals along the inside of pipes. By softening your water, you can reduce the amount of inconvenience involved in maintaining a plumbing system.
- Keeping your appliances healthy: Hard water doesn’t just affect your pipes and fixtures. It also affects any appliances that you use with your water, including dishwashers, washing machines and coffee makers. You can lengthen the lifespan and improve the performance of these machines by just switching to soft water.
2. Clean More Efficiently
Water is a vital ingredient in most cleaning processes around your home, whether you’re washing clothes, dishes or countertops. But what happens when the water you clean with is full of uninvited elements and minerals? The result is less-effective cleaning. When you clean with hard water, you encourage the creation of soap curd, also called soap scum. And since this water is less efficient at cleaning, you’ll often need to spend more money on soap and cleaning products to achieve the desired results.
Soft water, on the other hand, is far better at producing a lather from soap. This lather makes it more effective at cleaning and rinsing. By switching to soft water, you can enjoy more effective cleaning as well as a cheaper cleaning process as your products can stretch further.
3. Enjoy Softer Skin and Hair
Hard water is notorious for drying out our skin and hair in the shower. While one shower or bath might not make a noticeable difference, the steady use of hard water showers will add up over time, transforming your hair and skin into mere shadows of their former selves. Your skin will often become dry and scratchy while your hair begins to feel lifeless and brittle.
Luckily, the solution is simple. Soft water can reverse these effects, returning life to both your hair and your skin. Try a few showers in soft water, and the results will quickly become noticeable as your hair and skin begin to feel softer and more moisturized.
4. Help Protect the Environment
These days, everyone is trying to do their part to protect the environment and keep our planet a little greener. When you install a water softener in your home, you can do your part by decreasing the amount of greenhouse gases your home emits. How does this work? It’s simple. Soft water heats more efficiently than hard water, which translates to less energy use, which results in less greenhouse gas emission. As a bonus, you can also enjoy lower energy bills for a true win-win situation.
5. Save a Little Money
There are plenty of ways a water softener will help you save money, and we’ve already touched on a few of them. You can enjoy less spending on cleaning products, for instance, as your newly softened water outperforms your old water at cleaning. You can also spend less on soap since soft water helps make ordinary soap far more effective by helping it produce more lather. Additionally, you’ll also save money by slashing your energy bills. This is because soft water heats up more efficiently, meaning that it costs less to heat the same amount of water.
What Is the Difference Between Hard Water and Soft Water?
The water that we all use in our sinks, showers and plumbing systems comes from deep underground, by way of wells or our town or city’s piping systems. As this water travels through the ground, it inevitably passes through stone, calcium deposits and mineral pockets. All of these leave their mark, and by the time the water reaches your home, it is filled with trace amounts of elements like iron, calcium and magnesium. This raw, untreated and mineral-rich water is what we call hard water.
Most of us prefer not to have hard water in our home, so we turn to something called soft water. Soft water is what we create by cleaning hard water to eliminate all the harsh minerals it carries. This allows you to feel confident that the water in your various home systems is clean, fresh and free from any unwanted elements.
How Hard Is the Water in Pennsylvania?
The water we use in our homes isn’t uniformly the same level of hardness across the country. Some regions are very prone to hard water, while others may barely deal with this issue at all. The reason for this is the differing geographical makeup of one region versus another. For example, cities like Tampa, Florida, and Minneapolis, Minnesota, have unusually high concentrations of limestone beneath the ground. Because of these limestone deposits, the water in these cities and the surrounding areas is extremely hard.
By contrast, Oregon and Maine have very different geographical makeup. This results in their water being naturally much softer. While some people may still choose to soften their water for a better plumbing experience, the need for softeners is much less widespread in these areas.
Pennsylvania falls somewhere in the middle of this scale. While certain pockets may be harder or softer, the average experience across the state sits at a mid-range between extremely hard and not at all hard. This means that the water in Pennsylvania is not the hardest you’ll find in the country or the softest.
What About the Water in South Central Pennsylvania?
What’s the relative water hardness of South Central Pennsylvania? Although the state as a whole is not extremely affected by hard water, it still experiences this challenge in smaller doses. From Lancaster County to Adams County, plenty of businesses and homes grapple with the question of hard water. The water hardness may not be as extreme as what other regions of the country face, but the water is hard enough to pose a problem for many people. Often, the only answer is to install a water softener.
It’s important to note that even different regions of the same county or city may have different levels of water hardness. This is because different neighborhoods in a city may use different water sources. A perfect example of this is Lancaster, which has harder water in the south and east than in the north and west. In other words, even though your neighbor across town doesn’t need a water softener, you may still benefit from one.
How Do I Know If I Need a Water Softener?
Do you need a water softener? Start by asking yourself if you have well water or town water. Well water is far more likely to require softening treatment, as it comes directly out of the ground without going through municipal filtration systems. Therefore, if you have well water, there’s a good chance you need a softener.
What Is the Process of Softening Water?
The water softening process is all about eliminating the mineral buildups that accumulate in many natural water systems and preventing those foreign elements from contaminating the water as it flows into your home or business. How does a water softener accomplish this?
The process is simple. A water softener is an attachment that hooks up to your home’s water and plumbing system and removes the minerals from the water. A popular type of water softener is an ion-exchange softener. It uses sodium to attract calcium, magnesium and other minerals, reducing or eliminating the amount of these minerals in the water. This results in clean water for your home that’s softer, healthier and better for both you and your home.
Are Water Softeners Worth It?
Water softeners are a fantastic, even a necessary choice if you’re living in a home or running a business that experiences the effects of hard water. They improve your skin and hair, contribute towards protecting the environment and even keep your plumbing and appliances a little healthier and more youthful. Based on amazing benefits like these, we hope you’ll realize that installing a water softener is absolutely worth it.
It’s true that water softeners do represent a certain cost upfront. For this reason, it’s understandable that you might take a moment to consider whether or not this upfront cost is worth the benefits you’ll eventually experience. But in addition to the advantages to your personal grooming, the environment and the health of your plumbing, a water softener also represents very real financial savings as your energy bills and the amount of cleaning supplies you go through drop significantly. Considered over time, it’s highly likely that these savings will eventually outweigh the initial cost of the water softener, making it an excellent investment that we truly believe is well worth the effort.
Learn More About How You Can Soften Your Water Today
Have you been noticing a dull water pressure in your shower? Caught sight of a few white scale buildups around your water faucets and fixtures? You might be dealing with hard water. If this is the case, the best solution is to get in touch with water softening professionals to begin looking at options that will correct this situation.
If you suspect you might be dealing with hard water, we want to help. Here at Home Climates, our helpful team is ready to answer any questions you may have about identifying the type of water in your home, as well as to talk solutions for getting your home or business the soft water you deserve. Contact us today to learn more and ask about our water softening services and how they can benefit you.