Hard water isn't ice — it's not literally hard. Rather, hard water refers to water that has hard particulates in its structure. It forms when the water percolates through deposits such as gypsum and limestone, thus picking up calcium and magnesium carbonates. You'll know you have hard water with signs such as soap scum or clothes that refuse to get clean.
Below are some of the problems that hard water can cause.
As referenced above, one of the signs that you have hard water is the prevalence of soap scum. The scum is actually comprised of calcium deposits left behind after water evaporation. Hard water has extra calcium, so it's more likely to leave behind soap scum. Likewise, harder water simply doesn't dissolve soap as effectively as soft water.
Another byproduct of that lack of dissolution is leaving behind soap on your skin, which can cause it to get irritated. Likewise, hard water often has a high pH, which can dry out your skin, causing it to itch. Additionally, the mineral ions in the water can clog your pores, so you end up with more acne. Hard water also exacerbates existing skin conditions, such as eczema.
Beyond just causing irritated skin, hard water can cause more significant health issues. According to an article on the National Center for Biotechnology Information site, studies have shown a link between long-term drinking of hard water and cardiovascular disease and other serious health problems. The issues arise from the content of magnesium and calcium and the water's acidity.
Strange Taste or Smell
If you're drinking water smells or tastes strange, you may have bacterial contaminants. However, it can also be a side effect of hard water. The excess magnesium carbonates can change the flavor or the scent of water. Likewise, if the water has also picked up too much iron, you might experience a metallic taste when you drink tap water.
So, hard water has percolated through limestone and picked up particulates. Well, as it flows through your pipes, it often deposits those particulates. You end up with limescale deposits in your pipes. This chalky residue can build up over time and eventually clog your pipes. What's more, it tends to accumulate in showerheads, decreasing the water pressure.
You use water in different appliances, such as the dishwasher and clothes washer. Well, they don't like hard water any more than your pipes do. They can also succumb to limescale buildup. As with the pipes, the buildup can clog their pipe system. However, it can also cause damage to some of the moving systems, such as the dishwasher's spray arms.
If you think you have hard water, don't hesitate to call a water softener service to solve the problem.
For more information, contact a company like Houston Water Products.