Water is essential for hydration and therefore, for life. It is also very important in food preparation and cooking, sanitation and hygiene, and a wide range of other uses.
The drinking water supply has the primary objective of protecting human health, including ensuring access to adequate quantities of safe water. It is estimated that approximately 17% of the world’s population uses water from unprotected and remote sources, 32% from some form of protected sources, and 51% from some sort of centralized (piped) system to the dwelling or a plot. Of the latter, a small but increasing proportion applies some form of treatment within the home. Individual water consumption occurs both at home and elsewhere, such as at schools and workplaces.
Water is crucial not just for pure drinking, but is also found in the preparation of food and food products. In response to increasing global and local water scarcity, there is an increasing use of sources such as recovered/recycled water, harvested rainwater, and desalinated water. 884 million people lack access to safe water supplies; this is approximately one in eight people. Among them a good percentage consumes hard water, which is considered to be a significant etiological factor around the globe causing many diseases such as cardiovascular problems, diabetes, reproductive failure, neural diseases, renal dysfunction and so on.
Water hardness is a common problem that plumbers face. The easy definition of water hardness is the quantity of dissolved calcium and magnesium within the water. Hard water is excessive in dissolved minerals, in large part calcium and magnesium.
The hardness of water affects plumbing systems in a number of ways. Hard water can be problematic because it reacts with cleaning products, creates soap buildup, and can wear down fixtures and appliances more quickly than soft water. The minerals in hard water react with soap to create soap scum, inhibiting suds. This means you need to use more soap with hard water. The buildup of minerals on glasses and dishes, clothing, and fixtures can take their toll over time. Here are some of the common household problems related to hard water:
- Scale buildup inside water supply pipes, restricting water flow
- Film and scale buildup on ceramic tile and fixtures
- Scale deposits shortening the life of water heaters
- Spots on glasses and dishes cleaned in the dishwasher
- Less effective clothes washing due to lack of suds
- Increased wear on clothing during washing
But What Does It Do to Plumbing?
The buildup on tubs, showers, sinks, and faucets caused by hard water are only part of the problem. The minerals in hard water also start to build up inside pipes, fixtures, and appliances over time. The build-up we don’t see can start to cause all sorts of plumbing problems, such as reduced water flow, clogs, and increased stress on pipes and fixtures. The mineral deposits can also cause appliances to operate less efficiently and wear down faster. For example, a water heater has to heat all of the mineral scale buildup inside the tank, as well as the water. Overall, hard water can result in less efficient plumbing and more repairs over time.
Leaking Toilets as a Result of Hard Water?
Hard water is another factor that can adversely affect your toilet and your plumbing on the whole. When hard water deposits form in the pipes, it can prevent a toilet from functioning at optimal efficiency. Mineral deposits will form on any surface that comes into regular contact with hard water. Toilets tend to exhibit problems early on as impurities form inside the drain pipes, narrowing them and reducing water flow, leading to clogs. Deposits can also form inside the tank and cause internal components to corrode, which reduces the life of the toilet. In addition, the materials in your toilet’s flapper valve will affect how the flapper reacts to hard water in the toilet tank.
Testing for Hard Water
White scale buildup on plumbing fixtures is often a good indicator of the presence of hard water. If you suspect that you have hard water, there is a low-tech way to test for it by shaking up a small amount of dish soap and water in a closed container. If the solution fails to create lots of suds, you probably have hard water. For much more precise results you can contact your water provider and request a recent water testing report. You can also have a sample of your water tested at a local lab or have a company perform an on-site test (just watch out for conflict of interest; for example, you don’t want a test done by a water softener company). Another option is to use a water hardness test strip (sold at home centers and hardware stores) that you hold under running water then match to a color gauge.
Adding salt is often a solution to reduce the water hardness but that can lead to higher costs. Salt works effectively as a water softener through the process of ion exchange. This means that Calcium and Magnesium ions in hard water are exchanged for sodium ions, resulting in softer water.
Water softeners are usually made from food-grade salt, which makes it a relatively cheap, natural and safe means of softening water. You may choose to install water softening equipment in your home, and water softening salts are readily available in both crystal and tablet form. We recommend using a high purity salt product specifically designed for this purpose.
We have taken the time to do a bit of research to break down the water hardness for each region in Canada. The water hardness in Canada is different depending on the region. The regions with the highest water hardness are Quebec, Ontario, and Manitoba. The regions with the lowest water hardness are British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan.
If you are keen to know more about the water hardness in your region, please fill out the form below to receive the report.