Does Your Facility Have Hard Water? Here’s How to Tell
Common in urban centers throughout the Pennsylvania and New Jersey area, hard water won’t harm your health, but it can harm your plumbing. Hard water is water that contains a high amount of minerals, such as calcium carbonate, magnesium carbonate, and calcium sulfate. Water like this usually leaves tell-tale signs.
Know the Signs of Hard Water
If you have hard water, you’ve probably noticed you can’t get a good lather from your soap no matter what brand you use in your facility’s restrooms. Instead, you end up with soap scum on your hands, sink, and especially any dishes washed at your establishment. This happens because of the way the minerals in hard water react with the fatty acids in soap.
Because your soap isn’t very effective, you’ll use more, which results in higher costs, scummy sinks and counters, and a greater risk of plumbing clogs. Using the same soap in soft water, which contains less minerals, will produce a thick lather, so you don’t need as much.
Another easily spotted sign of hard water is the white mineral scale it leaves around sink faucet aerators and bases, and sink drains. Mineral deposits also collect on dishes, causing foggy and spotted glasses and plates. This scale is made up of the minerals left behind when the water evaporates.
If not removed, it can damage the finish on your fixtures, ruin the rubber washers in your faucets, and clog your faucet aerators. Aerators clogged with scale spray unevenly and can eventually become unusable as the scale accumulates. Mineral-rich water decreases the lifespan of all your plumbing fixtures, including sink taps, toilets, and shower heads.
Scale inside your pipes can cause low water pressure. Scale inside toilets Worse yet, scale can form inside your water heater or boiler, reducing the equipment’s efficiency and decreasing its lifespan. Washing machines are also affected. Less efficient equipment means higher monthly energy bills. While mineral scale is easily removed, it adds to the maintenance costs of your building and equipment.
Improve Your Water Quality
Hard water isn’t just something you have to put up with. It’s possible to soften the water, or reduce its mineral content, before it even reaches your taps. By doing this, you’ll protect your pipes and plumbing fixtures, and enjoy cleaner restrooms and kitchens. The most efficient way to soften the entire water supply for your facility is with a commercial water softener. This device is installed in your plumbing system, usually water main entry.
A water softener replaces the “hard” particles in the water, such as calcium and magnesium ions, with “softer” sodium ion. When water enters the softener, it flows into an ion exchange tank where the replacement of ions takes place. The softened water then flows out to your pipes. Because the softening process requires salt, the device needs to be filled with salt regularly. Every two or three months, the device should be inspected for brine buildup that can prevent it from operating correctly.
A salt-free water conditioner is another option for dealing with the effects of mineral-rich water. These devices replace hard particles with potassium ions, rather than sodium ions. Because they don’t reduce the mineral content, meaning they don’t affect it’s hardness, these devices are correctly known as water conditioners, rather than water softeners. They help reduce mineral scale buildup, but can’t provide other benefits of a water softener, such as better soap lather.
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