We’ve all heard the term “hard water” before. But what does it really mean? In the simplest terms, it is water that has higher levels of calcium and magnesium in it. These minerals are not explicitly harmful to your health. However, they cause a number of issues for yourself and your home. Below we look at a few of those issues.

  1. Stains on Porcelain

If you have trouble keeping your shower or toilet clean of these troublesome reddish-brown stains, you may have hard water. These stains look like rust for a very good reason. They come from iron deposits in your pipes from hard water. You can clean all you want, but these stains will keep coming back until you treat the cause, hard water.

  1. Soap Scum

It’s the dreaded cleaning conundrum: dealing with soap scum buildup. Soap scum occurs when the soap you use reacts with the calcium in your water. Then, the resulting mixture dries on a surface. The resulting white spots are unsightly and a pain to clean. You can spray it with vinegar to help break it down, but until the excess calcium is dealt with, you’ll just have to keep spraying and scrubbing it away.

  1. Dingy Laundry

Are your whites not as white as they should be? Do you have to use more laundry detergent than you used to? Are your clothes wearing out faster than you’d like? These are all common problems caused by hard water. Those excess minerals mean that your washing machine can not fully rinse out that soap, which leaves buildup on your fabrics. And bleach, when combined with iron, makes iron oxide, also known as rust.

  1. Clogged Pipes

If you have clogged shower heads, sink faucets, or slow-moving drains, it could be caused by hard water. This will likely depend on the type of pipes in your home, as copper and PVC do not react to mineral deposits as much as steel pipes do. So determine the type of piping that is installed in your home to determine if hard water is your culprit.

  1. Appliances Wearing Out Quickly

When hard water is heated, solid clumps of calcium carbonate can form. And these mineral deposits spell disaster for your home appliances, most often your water heater and dishwasher because of the temperatures they can reach. The mineral deposits reduce the life of equipment, raise the heating cost of the water, lower the appliance efficiency, and clog your pipes. Not to mention that this is one of the most expensive problems caused by hard water, as these appliances are not cheap to replace.

Also affected by hard water is the most important appliance of all: the coffee pot! Mineral deposits in your coffee pot can make it take longer to heat water, weaken the brew, clog the heating element, and worst of all, make your coffee smell and taste bad. This is why it is recommended to run vinegar through your coffee pot once in a while, as vinegar helps to break down the mineral deposits, prolonging the life of your machine, and making mornings smell and taste just as they should.