Hard Water vs. Soft Water: Understanding the Difference and the Need for a Water Softener

Among the most all-around significant qualities of your household water is its relative hardness or softness. Whether you’ve got “hard water” or “soft water” can impact everything from the cleanliness of your dishes and the appearance of your plumbing fixtures to how much money you’re shelling out for appliance repair and replacement.

Let’s learn more about hard water and the benefits of a water softener.

Hard Water vs. Soft Water

Water hardness is simply a measure of dissolved mineral content. Hard water contains higher concentrations of minerals, particularly calcium and magnesium. Soft water has lower amounts.

Hard water is often an issue for well owners because groundwater – which a well taps into – tends to be harder than surface water, all else being equal. That’s because subterranean water readily picks up minerals from the soil and bedrock.

Generally speaking, hard water isn’t a health hazard: It’s not unsafe to drink or wash with it. But it does have the potential to produce a variety of annoying, and sometimes quite expensive, side effects associated with your water supply.

Impacts of Hard Water

The high magnesium and calcium content of hard water can have various impacts. These minerals coming out of solution in the form of calcium carbonate, calcium bicarbonate, and magnesium hydroxide can result in the buildup of limescale and other deposits, which may cause chalky staining on faucets, fixtures, and the like and, worse yet, clog pipes, filters, water heater coils, and other vital plumbing components. This can reduce water pressure, degrade equipment, and increase energy costs. Hard water can notably shorten the working lifespan of appliances such as water heaters, dishwashers, and coffee machines.

Hard water can also prevent you from working up a lather with your dishwater or shampoo and generate unsightly soap curds and films.

Winter, of course, is approaching, and the effects of hard water during that season can be compounding. For example, the perennial winter phenomenon of dry and itchy skin can be exacerbated by how much harder it is to clean with hard water. Mineral deposits impeding flow through pipes could increase the likelihood of their freezing and bursting during cold snaps, impacting your water supply and creating expensive leaks.

Hardness levels beyond seven grains per gallon or 120 milligrams per liter often warrant some kind of treatment, namely, water softening.

Mitigating Hard Water With a Water Softener

By reducing the mineral content of your well water, a water softener can yield all sorts of benefits readily suggested by the litany of hard-water maladies we ran through above. It can make washing dishes and your hair more effective; it can improve your water pressure, eliminate stains and detergent curds, and boost and extend the performance of your appliances.

If your well water supply is on the hard side, some impressive cost savings can result from installing a water softener. That’s not only true regarding longer use (and potentially lower repair expenses) of dishwashers, washing machines, water heaters, and other appliances. Research by the Water Quality Association suggests that homes with soft water also go through less laundry and dishwasher detergent and that washing machines require lower-temperature water to remove stains effectively.

Water softeners function via an ion exchange medium, with resin beads trapping the positively charged magnesium and calcium ions and swapping them out for negatively charged sodium ions. A brine, or salt solution, is employed to periodically flush out the trapped hard minerals that would otherwise clog up the resin bed. This flushing or cleaning process, which varies between models, is known as the “regeneration” of your water softener.

Here at Greco & Haines, we carry top-of-the-line water softeners that can effectively reduce the hardness of your well water and thus confer all the associated benefits. Learn more about our water softeners and the various full-home water filtration systems often combined with them right here.

Enjoy More Satisfying Well Water—and Plenty of Cost Savings—With a Water Softener Unit From Greco & Haines

A water-quality test from Greco & Haines can help evaluate whether you’re dealing with excessively hard water. And if so, our water softeners can certainly provide a low-hassle solution! We’ve been in the well water business since 1963, and we’ve seen it all when it comes to hard water and its disagreeable effects.

From checkups and tests to installations and emergency repairs, our services are available seven days a week and 365 days a year. Get in touch with the Greco & Haines team at 203-735-9308, 203-777-2256, or (toll-free from any CT area code) 1-800-922-2958, or use our online contact form.