Don’t Let Hard Water Drain Your Wallet 

Soft Water Tips that can save you hard cash

(ARA) – Ever wonder why dishes come out of the dishwasher with a filmy residue or why soap doesn’t lather in the shower? It may be because your home has hard water.

Hard water, which is a build-up of natural minerals such as magnesium and calcium, is the culprit for many inconveniences including stained porcelain, frizzy hair and dry, itchy skin. But it’s more than inconvenient: it’s also costly. Hard water can cause water heaters to run up to 60 percent less efficiently than with softened water, and it can reduce the life span of other appliances.

It is estimated that more than 80 percent of homes across the country are affected by hard water. What is more staggering however is that many homeowners do not know if they have hard water or how to detect it. Do you?

The amount of hardness varies in each water supply. However, the Salt Institute estimates that the equivalent of nearly 90 pounds of solid rock is brought into the average home by hard water each year. For an average family of four, that’s the equivalent of a one-pound rock about every four days.

Hard water can have a serious impact on your pocketbook. It can shorten the life span of your appliances by as much as 30 percent, which can lead to costly repairs or replacement. That means a washing machine that should last 13 years, may last only nine years, because of hard water damage; a dishwasher that should last 10 years may last only seven, and a hot water heater that should last 11 to 13 years, may last only eight or nine.

Another factor to consider is the high cost associated with repairing major appliances. How much would you be willing to pay to repair a 5-year-old washing machine? Replacement is often the best option once hard water has wreaked havoc on an appliance. By installing a water softener, you can add more than three years to the life of most of your appliances — and save yourself the expense of replacing them sooner than expected.

Whether you’re washing dishes, clothes, or taking a shower, installing a water softener can make your life easier by eliminating potential hard water problems at their source.

How hard water affects you

* Hard on clothes — Clothes washed in hard water tend to wear out 15 percent faster than those washed in soft water.

* Hard on washers — The American Water Works Association has found that washing machines that use hard water can wear out up to 30 percent faster than those that use soft water.

* Hard on dishes — Hard water can leave an unsightly film build-up on glasses and dishes.

* Hard on you — When you bathe in hard water, deposits are left behind which may leave your hair looking dull and your skin dry. Shaving is also more difficult in hard water. And hard water leaves a filmy soap ring around bathroom fixtures, making bathroom and kitchen clean up more difficult.

* Hard on budgets — Hard water requires much more soap, shampoo, or detergent than soft water, so your soap products don’t stretch nearly as far.

Solve the problem

The first step in solving hard water problems is determining the hardness of your water. Once you know your water’s hardness, it may be time to install a water softener. Water softeners cost from $400 to $1,600 and can be installed by homeowners or by a professional. Once the unit is installed, it must be properly set to match household water usage. Some units can be set to regenerate only on demand, while others follow a regular cycle.

Make sure your water softener is always full of the proper salt. Without salt, a water softener is useless. Salt is necessary to regenerate the water softener’s resin beads, which take the hardness out of your water.

Also, don’t forget to re-test your home’s water supply at least once a year to ensure it is healthy. A hard water test strip is the quickest and easiest way to test your water.

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