Hidden Costs of Hard Water

Posted at 5:45 AM, Feb 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-04 07:15:12-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) -- High quality soft water, or water without calcium and magnesium, has many advantages... from health benefits to extending the life of your appliances.

But what if that's not what's coming out of your faucets? In this Angie's List report, we're breaking down the hidden costs of hard water.

Scaly bathroom fixtures and spotty dishes are a couple sure signs of hard water, and could teach you a tough lesson.

"Most houses across the country do have hard water, and over the long term it can be damaging to your pipes as well as your water-using appliances. Therefore, a water softener can be a good investment to save you money in the long run," said Angie Hicks, founder of Angie's List.

A water softening system removes the calcium from hard water, which prevents it from lining your appliances or water heater.  That means it takes less energy because you don't have to heat the calcium before you heat the water. It can also add to the life of the water heater by as much as 50 percent.

"It affects everything in the way you feel when you get out of the shower – your hair, your skin, the laundry, how you take care of your house. There's many, many different aspects of living every day that it touches," said water softener professional Bret Petty.

Soft water helps cleaning agents lather better, so you'll get brighter, fresher clothes and cleaner dishes - while using less soap, shampoo and detergent.

Systems start around a few hundred dollars, but can quickly add up to the thousands.

Be sure you understand your family's water usage before deciding which one is right for you. A unit with a separate salt tank may add to its longevity.

"If you can separate the salt or separate the potassium away from the controls and other hardware, it's a natural barrier that makes the system last longer," said Petty.

Softeners require regular refills of sodium chloride (salt) or potassium chloride, which is a little more expensive, but a better choice for people who are sensitive to the effects of salt.     

Around 85 percent of the country has hard water, and you can always get yours test if you're not sure.  Anything around 10 grains or more should be treated.

Remember you can catch the latest Angie's List report every Tuesday morning on WTXL Sunrise.