Water Filtration

Standard Home or Light Commercial Application and Usage, Moderate Water Hardness. Specify for a average size home with 4 or less baths and people, with average water usage, one water heater, with 15 grains (250 ppm or mg/l) of hardness or less on 3/4" -1" service lineThis unit has a 10 x 54 tank with 11/2 cu.ft. of High Grade GAC Media for removal of Chlorine and VOC's. Filtration to every sink, cooking, drinking, showers, baths, for all uses. Years between media replacement and conditioning and maintenance. ICN Conditioner physically prevents build-up in pipes/heaters, easier water spot clean-up, automatic backwashing, digital timed valve with bypass. 15 gpm on 3/4 to 1" service lines.

Hard Water Facts (Provided by EWS)

Hard water / Soft Water - What's the difference?

Water has many different characteristics in different parts of the United States. In some cities the water is hard, in some it is soft. Water in some areas may have a distinctive taste or may have no taste at all. Some water may be cloudy while in another part of the country the water is clear.

If the water that comes from your faucet leaves deposits in the tub, on your dishes, or in your tea pot, it is probably hard water. If you get all kinds of suds from your bar of soap or laundry detergent, the water is probably soft.

What makes water hard?

Calcium and magnesium in water are the most common minerals that make water hard. The definition of water hardness is based on the amount of calcium carbonate it contains measured in milligrams per liter.

Calcium carbonate in milligrams per liter (mg/L)

Soft 0-75 mg/L (or 0 - 4.4 grains per gallon)

Moderately Hard 75-150 mg/L (or 4.4 - 8.8 grains per gallon)

Hard 150-300 mg/L (or 8.8 - 17.5 grains per gallon)

Very Hard > 300 mg/L (or >17.5 grains per gallon)

The hardness of water varies widely throughout the United States. For the most part, the states of the southwest and upper Midwest have hard water. In the southwest, low rainfall, hot weather, and high mineral content in the soil contribute to water hardness.

Here are some things that you can do to lessen the effects of hard water around your home:

The laundry: You may find that laundry soaps do not create as many suds when used with hard water. Most laundry products are detergent-based and therefore work better in hard water than soap-based products. Today's detergents are formulated to perform over a wide range of water hardness.

According to the National Soap and Detergent Association, a powdered detergent with phosphate will perform well in hard water as will any of the liquid laundry detergents (none of the liquids contain phosphate). If a powdered detergent without phosphate is used, it is important to make sure that the detergent completely dissolves in the wash water. Regardless of the form of detergent you use, you will still need extra detergent to overcome the hardness of the water. For example, if the manufacturer calls for one cup of detergent you may have to use a cup and a half and then evaluate the results. But remember that using too much detergent in an effort to get more suds can leave a residue on clothes. In general, detergents perform better in warm water. Water conditioning and detergent boosting products also are available and are especially effective in hard water. Read the labels of products and experiment to find which works best for you.

With most cleaning products, following the manufacturer's instruction for washing in hard water will get the desired results. Most soap and detergent manufacturers have toll-free customer service numbers if you need more information.

The dishwasher: Hard water will probably cause more spotting and filming on your dishes. This is because the minerals in hard water are released faster when the water comes in contact with heat, such as the heating element in your hot water heater or dishwasher. Here are some things you can do to reduce spotting and filming.

Reduce the temperature of your hot water heater

The higher the temperature setting on your hot water heater, the more mineral residue will occur in the dishwasher. It is recommended that you turn the water heater down to 130 degrees, or the "vacation setting". At this setting you should have enough hot water for your shower and you will maintain sanitary conditions in your dishwasher. For every degree or setting that you decrease your hot water heater, you decrease the amount of mineral spotting or filming on your dishware.

Rinse agents

To remove heavy, cloudy hard water film or spotting from dishware, you can add a commercially produced film and spot remover or use regular household white vinegar as a rinse agent. If your dishwasher does not have a dispenser, you can create your own by putting some vinegar in a cup and placing it on a dishwasher rack.

If you use a film and spot remover make sure to follow the manufacturer's directions. If you use vinegar, the National Soap and Detergent Association recommends removing flatware or other metal items from the dishwasher. Before you decide which method to use read you dishwasher operating manual to see what the manufacturer recommends for hard water use.

The hot water heater: Decreasing the temperature of the hot water heater also will reduce the amount of mineral buildup in the hot water tank, but, nevertheless, mineral "scaling: in the tank will eventually reduce the energy efficiency of the heater. Therefore, it is important to follow the manufacturer's guidelines for flushing your hot water heater.

The coffee maker: There are products on the market that will remove mineral buildup from your drip coffee maker or you can run a pot of strong vinegar water through your coffee maker on occasion. Refer to the manufacturer's guidelines.

The evaporative cooler: Through the evaporation process, minerals will accumulate in your evaporative cooler and in the cooler pads. You may have to change your pads twice per season, depending on how often you use your cooler. If your cooler has a bleed-off valve make sure that it is adjusted properly in order to ensure circulation of fresh water through the cooler. If the cooler does not have a bleed off valve, you can minimize mineral buildup by completely flushing the cooler with fresh water once or twice per season. There are also commercially made products available to minimize mineral buildup in the cooler.

Drip irrigation systems: When hard water evaporates, mineral deposits are left on irrigation emitters. Inspect your system regularly and clean clogged emitters either by scraping off the buildup or removing and soaking the emitter in a vinegar and water solution.

Tile, ceramic, and metal: Mineral buildup on tile, ceramic and metal surfaces such as showerheads, sinks, bathtubs, faucet fixtures, and swimming pools will simply require more attention to keep water spotting and filming to a minimum. With most cleaning products, following the manufacturer's instructions will get the desired results. For heavy scale buildup on tile, ceramics, and porcelain, a pumice stone works nicely.

-------------------------------------------------------------- Will minerals in hard water clog the water pipes in my house?

No. The calcium in hard water can create a thin coating on the inside of your pipes. If your home has lead or copper pipes or pipes with lead solder this coating has a beneficial effect by preventing lead and copper from leaching into your home's water supply. Mineral buildup in sink aerators may restrict water flow. Simply remove the aerator, clean it with vinegar, and replace.

-------------------------------------------------------------- Should I get a home water softener?

A water softener can improve the aesthetic qualities of your household water. For example, soap products perform better in softer water. But a water softener does not improve the safety or quality of water as it relates to health. In addition, if water is too soft it tastes peculiar and makes your coffee, soup, lemonade, and whatever else you may mix it with taste odd.

Most water softeners exchange sodium for existing calcium and magnesium in the water and therefore, increase the sodium content of the water. For this reason, soft water tends to be corrosive, doing gradual damage to household plumbing pipes and fixtures. There is evidence that softer, more corrosive water contributes to the leaching of lead and copper from pipes and connective solder into a home's drinking water. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined that even small amounts of lead in drinking water are a potential health hazard.

Ion exchange water softeners also discharge a sodium brine into the wastewater system. These unnatural quantities of sodium eventually find their way into the general environment.

The sodium increase in softened water may be a concern to you.

The cost of softening water is another factor that must be taken into consideration. According to a Consumer's Report article published in January of 1990, water softeners can waste from 15 to 120 gallons of water for every 1,000 gallons of water processed. The decision to purchase a home water softener is therefore one of personal preference.

Grains per gallon conversion

Milligrams/liter (mg/l) divided by 17.1 = grains per gallon

Example: 267 mg/l divided by 17.1 = 15.6 grains

This article is occasionally revised and was originally based on information obtained from the City of Tucson "Hard Facts about Hard Water" for which we are very grateful. For more information from Tucson Water, please call 791-4331.