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Hard Truths About Hard Water and How a Water Softener Helps

Hard Truths About Hard Water: Why You Need a Water Softener

TL;DR: Hard water, prevalent across much of the US including Tucson, contains high levels of minerals like calcium and magnesium, causing issues such as scale buildup and reduced appliance efficiency. Water softeners remove these minerals, prolonging appliance life, improving soap efficiency, and benefiting skin and hair. They work via ion exchange, with salt-based and salt-free options available. When choosing a water softener, consider capacity, features, and maintenance requirements. Tucson Plumbing and Drain offers solutions to eliminate hard water problems and enhance water quality in your home.


According to the USGS, most of the US has hard water. This natural phenomenon affects a significant portion of households and is marked by a high concentration of minerals like calcium and magnesium in tap water. Arizona residents face a significant challenge, with the water hardness levels in Tucson as high as 211 PPM (mg/L). That puts Tucson water in the category of very hard.

Hard water can break household appliances and cause scale buildup inside pipes. It can even reduce the efficiency of soap and detergents, affecting your skin and clothes. These are the hard truths about hard water and why you need a water softener in your home.

Water softeners remove the excessive minerals from your water, making it better for use. That prolongs the life of your household appliances and keeps soaps and detergents effective. They make the water better for your skin and even improve the taste. Let’s see why water softeners are the solution to hard water in your home.

What Makes Water “Hard”?

Water that has a high concentration of calcium and magnesium is called hard. They dissolve in the water as it moves through soil and rock. The minerals are not inherently harmful to human health, but their presence in your water supply can lead to maintenance issues in your home. If you suspect your tap water is “hard,” there are some unmistakable signs you can look for:

  • A white film or spots on dishes and glassware after washing
  • Scale buildup on your faucets and showerheads
  • Loss of efficiency in appliances that use water, like coffee makers or washing machines
  • Stiff and rough clothing after every wash

Fortunately, confirming whether you have hard water is easy. You can use a simple test kit available at most hardware stores. These tests offer a quick way to assess the hardness of your water using color-changing strips. They will quickly show whether the mineral content in your water is something you need to address with a water softener.

The Impact of Hard Water

Hard water can cause significant maintenance challenges for your plumbing and appliances. The consequences of untreated hard water are far-reaching, from the lifespan and performance of your appliances to your comfort and health. Addressing these issues can help you avoid annoying and potentially expensive problems.

Household Issues

The minerals found in hard water deposit and accumulate, leading to scale buildup. That damages your appliances and hampers their efficiency. For example, the water heater will struggle to heat water, leading to more energy consumption and high utility bills.

Similarly, washing machines and dishwashers lose efficiency when continuously exposed to hard water. The main issue your plumbing faces is scale buildup inside pipes. The restricted water flow and increased pressure can cause pipes to burst or crack.

Personal Effects

Hard water is also tough on your body. Many people find it causes skin irritation and dryness because it doesn’t rinse soap away as effectively. Similarly, your hair can suffer from hard water exposure.

It can become dull and brittle as the excess minerals make it hard for moisture to penetrate the hair shaft. Hard water can also make laundry dingy and stiff, regardless of how often you wash it.

The Benefits of Investing in a Water Softener

The solution to your hard water problems is simpler than you think. Installing a water-softening system does more than improve your tap water’s quality – it brings many benefits that touch almost every aspect of your home life and well-being.

For Your Home

By using soft water, you reduce the buildup of minerals that clog and corrode your appliances, from the water heater to the dishwasher. Appliances that work less hard to achieve the same results use less energy, which translates to savings on your utility bills.

Moreover, your plumbing also gets a break. Soft water minimizes the risk of scale deposits in pipes and fixtures, which can prevent unexpected and expensive maintenance or repairs. That means your system remains in better condition for longer, offering you peace of mind and more money in your pocket.

For Your Well-being

Soft water can transform your skin and hair, leaving them feeling soft and looking radiant, simply because it allows soaps and shampoos to lather better and rinse off more completely. 

Your laundry will be softer and cleaner as detergents dissolve more effectively in soft water, making your clothes, towels, and linens feel fresher and last longer. 

There is another pleasure—drinking water straight from the tap. A water softener can remove the metallic taste and sulfur smell often associated with hard water, making tap water more enjoyable to drink and food better tasting.

How Water Softeners Work

Water softeners work through an ion exchange process, removing the minerals that harden water. This process involves exchanging those hard minerals for sodium ions. Hard water goes into the water softener and passes through a bed filled with tiny resin beads.

The beads have sodium or potassium ions, which can hold onto the calcium and magnesium ions while simultaneously releasing the sodium or potassium ions and softening the water.

Types of Water Softeners

When choosing a water softener, you can choose between salt-based and salt-free systems. Salt-based water softeners use the ion exchange process described above, requiring salt for regeneration.

On the other hand, salt-free systems condition water by crystallizing calcium and magnesium ions so they cannot bind to surfaces, meaning they don’t technically soften water but reduce scaling.

Choosing A Water Softener System

Different households will have different requirements for water softening, primarily because hardness levels and usage can vary significantly from home to home. Factors such as the number of residents, water consumption habits, and the existing water hardness level determine the ideal water-softening solution for your home. What you need to consider is:

  • Capacity and Size: Think about how many gallons of water you need per person each day. Then, multiply that by the grains of hardness in your water to see what size of softener will meet your needs.
  • Features: The regeneration settings and controls allow you to customize how often your system regenerates while considering the type of salt it uses. Some systems use less common types of salt, which are more expensive or hard to find, so it’s worth considering what’s readily available in your area.
  • Installation and Maintenance: Some systems are simple enough to install by yourself. Still, a professional can set up the system correctly from the start, helping you avoid any unnecessary issues later. Regular maintenance tasks like checking the salt levels are relatively simple but crucial for keeping your system running smoothly.

Get Soft Water in Tucson, AZ

Hard water can lead to many problems, from mineral buildup in your pipes to making it harder for soap to lather. It can affect everything from your dishes to your skin. Investing in a water softener will eliminate these issues, preserve the lifespan of your plumbing, and improve your daily quality of life.

If you want to improve the water quality in your home, Tucson Plumbing and Drain is ready to help. With over 40 years of experience, our team is committed to customer satisfaction and offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee. 

We make getting rid of hard water look easy, so call us today!

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