Culligan Blog

How Hard Water May Be Hurting Your Appliances

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Most Americans have hard water in their home's water supply, which not only leaves those tell-tale spots on your dishes and glasses, but can also take a toll on household pipes and water-using appliances.

Calcium and magnesium salts found in water make it "hard." And, according to the Water Quality Association, the problem is widespread: about 85 percent of the country has hard water.

So, how does hard water affect appliances? According to the WQA, it tends to leave deposits that can clog pipes, mechanical systems, appliances, faucets and shower heads. The WQA's director of regulatory and technical affairs, Pauli Undesser, says the deposits alter how well appliances function and how long they last. It can slow and stop water flow; reduce efficiency and spur equipment to work harder. And, perhaps worst of all, it can shorten the lifespans of appliances and may result in leaks that can cause costly water damage to your home and belongings. 

Signs that hard water is becoming a problem:

Shower and faucet heads.
 Some of the holes may clog, minimizing the force of the water spray; water may also spew out in different directions rather than a straight shot. Deposits may also develop on the exterior of a fixture, or where water is splashed, such as a shower door. And, while cleaning may help temporarily, eventual replacement may be necessary.

Gas and electric tank-type water heaters. The build-up of sediment and other minerals may make the heater as much as 48 percent less efficient, according to WQA research. A gas heater may also start to fill with residue, and can begin to leak as the weight pushes down on tank seams, or if corrosion sets in.   

Tankless water heaters. When there's a high level of water hardness, the pipe where the water comes out of the heater can clog with scale (hardened mineral deposits) and prevent water from flowing properly. A decrease in water pressure may indicate a problem.  

Dish and clothes washers. Equipment won't clean as well. Glasses will show spotting or look dull, even opaque. Clothing may seem stiff or "hard" (which is how the term "hard water" is said to have originated). The inlet valve that lets water in and out may clog, along with hoses. In fact, a study by the American Water Works Association found that washing machines used with hard water can wear out up to 30 percent faster.

Refrigerators. Hard water circulating through an icemaker or water tap can clog parts and shorten life spans. Change water filters, per the manufacturer's recommendation. (Set a maintenance reminder if you need to).

So, what else can homeowners do? Ask your municipality where your water comes from and whether the municipality treats for hardness, and also ask for a recent water quality report. Rural areas that depend on groundwater are more prone to hard water than cities that use surface water, because groundwater travels through rock and soil, picking up minerals along the way In some instances, a municipal system will treat hard water, but only to a certain level. You may want to go further than that if you're seeing the signs of deterioration or inefficiency in your home appliances. 

A certified water treatment professional can perform a test on your water and, if the results are positive, walk you through the various treatment options. Hard water can certainly be hard on your appliances, but the good news is there's a relatively simple fix. 

This post comes from the editors of The Allstate Blog, which helps people prepare for the unpredictability of life.

Problem Water Infographic: Total Dissolved Solids

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You may not be able to recognize Total Dissolved Solids, or TDS, with the naked eye, but you may see its effects all over your home or business. TDS in water can cause a bitter, metallic taste in your drinking water, corrode your plumbing fixtures and shorten the life of your appliances. This new infographic from Culligan shows you how TDS can get into your water and how it can cause unsightly side effects. Culligan also provides water treatment suggestions to reduce the presence of TDS in your water.

We know you want the best quality water - that's what we want, too. If you think you have TDS in your water, request a water test from your local Culligan Man today. He can tell you exactly what is in your water and provide the best solution for you and your home or business.

View the entire infographic here!

Find out how Total Dissolved Solids can get into your water and how Culligan can help reduce the contaminant.

*Total Dissolved Solids and other impurities are not necessarily in your water.

Problem Water Series: Exactly What is Problem Water?

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Problem water is loosely defined as any water that requires further treatment than a simple water softener.  That is to say that the water contains contaminants beyond calcium and magnesium. But how exactly does water get these contaminants and become a problem?

Your water mainly comes from two sources: private wells or public municipalities. Groundwater, the source of private well water, travels underground and may pick up contaminants along the way. Surface water, such as lakes and reservoirs, is the main source of public municipalities. This type of water can pick up contaminants through rainfall, run off or travel through pipes.

These problem water contaminants can become a concern in the home either through aesthetic impacts, such as the taste, look or smell of the water, or health impacts. Common contaminants result in rotten egg odor from hydrogen sulfide, bitter tasting water from tannins, stained fixtures from iron or a host of other issues you may have noticed around your home. Contaminants that may impact your health are usually monitored by public health officials and the EPA for municipal water sources, but homeowners with private wells are responsible for knowing what is in their water.

How do you know if you have problem water? Typically, problem water will leave signs of its presence around your home. If you have noticed any, or all, of the following symptoms, you could potentially have problem water:

  • Discolored or cloudy water
  • Rotten egg smell
  • Bitter or sour tasting water
  • Stains on fixtures and appliances
  • Corrosion on pipes and plumbing
  • Dry Skin
  • Dull Hair

If any of these signs are familiar in your home, or if you are just curious about what is in your water, you can easily have your water tested. Your local water professional, the Culligan Man, can perform a basic in home water test or collect a water sample for a more in depth analytical test. This test will tell you exactly what is in your water and if you do, in fact, have problem water. He can then recommend a solution that will best fit you and your home. Solutions will often include a drinking water filter, bottled water delivery service, or a whole house water filter. Contact your Culligan Man to set up an appointment today and find out what is in your water!

*Contaminants and other impurities are not necessarily in your water.

Problem Water Infographic: Hydrogen Sulfide

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Rotten egg odor is one of the most common and unpleasant effects of hydrogen sulfide, or H2S, in your water. The presence of hydrogen sulfide doesn't just smell bad, it may also tarnish your silver or corrode your plumbing and fixtures. This infographic from Culligan will help you understand how hydrogen sulfide gas gets into water. It also begins to explain how Culligan may help reduce the presence of this contaminant, and cut down on the smell of rotten eggs in your water. We think that is a good thing.

Click here to view the full infographic!

*Hydrogen sulfide and other contaminants and impurities are not necessarily in your water.

Find out how hydrogen sulfide gets in your water and what you can do to reduce the contaminant and its rotten egg smell.