Many people have to deal with the dual issues of hard water and high water pressure. There are several water treatment systems that can help with those issues.
Hard water is caused by excessive amounts of minerals in your water supply. Many people will choose to relieve their hard water issues by installing a water softener. These water treatment systems will control the side effects that are caused by hard water, such as:
- Shortened life of your Water Heater- Mineral build up will cause your water heater to run inefficiently as they are poor conductors of heat and work against the water heater. The build up of minerals will coat the heating element and can cause it to arc or otherwise malfunction. For people who live in hard water areas it is recommended that they have a complete servicing of their water heater each year, including a total flush to remove accumulated minerals. A tip for homeowners is to have a plumber replace the plastic valve that is standard on most water heaters with a ball valve. This will allow for a complete flush of the heater rather than merely a draining.
- Shortened life of Water Using Appliances- Any appliance that uses water: dishwasher, washing machine, coffee maker, etc. will feel the effects of hard water. The build up of minerals will cause your glassware to be etched over time in the dishwasher, your coffee maker will need more frequent cleanings, and your washing machine will need more soap to get the clothes clean since hard water reduces the effectiveness of soap as well.
- Pipes can be clogged or damaged- Minerals are corrosive by their very nature so it is possible for the integrity of your pipes to become compromised over time. The minerals can actually eat away at the pipes which could cause leaks or in very bad cases flooding if a leak ruptures in an unseen area such as inside the walls or under the crawlspace of the house.
- Fixtures can become clogged and inoperable- The gradual build up of mineral deposits on dishwashers, faucets, and shower heads can be unsightly at best and lead to blockages over time. If proper maintenance is not performed on fixtures the build up can become so bad that the fixtures must be replaced. This can be quite costly over time.
Water Treatment Systems Options
There are several options when it comes to combatting hard water. Salt-based water softeners that use either sodium or potassium are the most popular. These systems exchange ions by adding an opposing charge to the water. The positively charged “hard” minerals are attracted to the negatively charged sodium and are collected and washed away. Some people don’t like the idea of extra sodium in their water, the slick feel of softened water or the fact that the regular regeneration process of the water softener uses a lot of water every day. On the flip side many pros think the alternatives don’t even come close to the job the true water softeners can do.
For the environmentally conscious there are citrus-based water treatment systems available. They have a built in bypass and no drain so they don’t do the daily regeneration process thereby conserving water.
There are also magnetic systems which charge the minerals causing them to pass through your pipes without being able to adhere to fixtures or appliances. Although this is not a true water softener it eliminates the slick feeling that water softeners cause.
High Water Pressure Problems
If you have high water pressure (over 80 psi) you can experience damage to your pipes, fixtures and appliances. Many municipalities require a water pressure valve to be installed at each residence to eliminate this issue but many do not. If you have high pressure you can experience issues with breaks in your supply lines and valves because they are built to withstand only a certain amount of water pressure.
One sure fire way of knowing you have high water pressure is banging or rattling pipes. When a fixture is closed the water bounces back causing the rattling you hear in the walls. This will damage your pipes over time and should be remedied.
Plumbers can easily check your water pressure if it is high you can easily have a pressure reducing valve (PRV) installed. In some areas you will also need an expansion tank installed on your water heater to protect both your pipes and the PRV. The expansion tank provides an area for the water to expand safely and helps provide consistent pressure throughout the house.