Purchasing a new house is an incredibly exciting process, whether the property is a first-time home, a dream home, a holiday home, or an investment opportunity. With such an important decision, there are a number of essential checks that must be made before the sale goes ahead, and plumbing is one of them.
Knowing how to check the plumbing of a property in Chicagoland is crucial during the buying process. Not only will thorough plumbing checks bring to light problems that may dissuade you from buying the house, but if you still decide to go ahead with the sale in light of the problems, you’ll know exactly what needs to be addressed going forwards.
Tackling plumbing problems head on will potentially save you a fortune on serious repairs and make sure your new home is perfectly habitable and safe for you, your family, or future tenants. Before you dive into buying a house, here are five ways to check for plumbing issues, and one essential tip to bear in mind when inspecting a Chicagoland property.
The first things that you should check are the water lines and drain lines in the property. These are two fairly simple tests but can reveal a lot about the plumbing. First, check down the drain for signs of corrosion, as whilst rare, this can cause problems. Second, check the visible water lines, such as those underneath the sink in the kitchen, and make sure there are no leaks or discoloration. It’s also worth checking the drainage, simply turn on the faucets, and check to make sure the drainage speed is suitable.
Water heaters generally have a lifespan of about a decade. Inquiring after the age of the heater will tell you how soon it’ll need replacing, and whether you’ll need to budget for the replacement if it’s nearing the 10-year mark. It’s also worthwhile assessing the water heater location, and how much damage potential leaks could cause.
Water pressure may not be the first thing that you look for in a new home, but poor pressure can be a nightmare to deal with. Testing the water pressure in the property with a pressure gauge will give you a pressure reading, that if poor, may reveal that the plumbing pipes need to be unclogged. If the water pressure is too high, it could start to damage the water heater and other appliances around the house.
There are many obvious signs of water damage that may be present when you’re shown around a property. If there has been a leak, either from pipes or the roof, then you may notice brown marks on the ceiling. Equally, there may be signs of water damage in the crawlspace or basement, so it’s important to stay vigilant and check for stains, obvious leaks, and any faulty repair work. Check the toilet for leaks or warping, particularly around the base, and ensure it flushes properly.
The last thing you’ll want to do when moving into a new home is to unexpectedly pay out for brand-new water supply pipes, so it’s certainly worth inquiring about them! It can be helpful to ask the age of the pipes and material, to determine either how long it’ll be until replacement is required, or whether the material is suitable for modern plumbing. If the pipes are constructed from galvanized steel or polybutylene, as an example, they’ll probably need replacing.
Asking questions and performing visual checks will reveal a lot of information about the state of the plumbing in your Chicagoland property investment. Yet, there are some assurances of plumbing adequacy that only a local plumbing service will be able to provide. For the ultimate peace of mind when buying a house, asking a plumber to take a look at the plumbing is a beneficial investment.
With a thorough check of the water supply, drainage, and water pressure, you’ll be able to get a clear indication of the state of the plumbing, and discuss the costs involved in resolving any problems. A skilled plumber will also be able to perform additional checks, such as performing video camera inspections on sewer lines, which may reveal problems that cannot be brought to light by visual checks or questions – unearthing clogs or deterioration in a sewer line after purchasing a property could come with a massive repair bill!
Arco Plumbing has been offering residential, commercial and industrial plumbing services in the Westmont, IL area since 1978. We are a family owned and operated plumbing company that truly cares about getting the job done right. Arco Plumbing has earned a reputation as one of the best plumbing companies in the Chicagoland area. You will find no better workmanship in the area.
We are more than happy to give advice on which solution is most suitable for your needs, depending on your Plumbing Services. We can inspect your property and discuss the various options with you. Our advice is free!
Once upon a time, lead was the primary material for all forms of plumbing pipe. Thankfully, plumbing pipe for commercial properties has come a long way since the early days of lead pipe usage. There’s now an abundance of materials to choose from for commercial plumbing.
Pipes have formed an indispensable part of plumbing for thousands of years. They’re used in residential, commercial, and industrial buildings to carry fluids to, around, and out of properties. A high quality of plumbing infrastructure is vital no matter the size, purpose, or design of your commercial building. This means that choosing the best material for your plumbing is incredibly important.
With so much variation between Chicagoland commercial plumbing pipe material, it’s not always easy to tell which material will be best for your commercial pipes…
Plumbing pipes come in many different varieties for all the different plumbing applications in commercial buildings. This means that there’s no single best plumbing pipe, but instead best types of material for different purposes, locations, and conditions. Determining which plumbing pipe will be best suited to different situations can depend on a number of factors, such as:
As every type of plumbing pipe is comprised of different materials and have varying degrees of performance in different situations, plumbing pipes often can’t be used interchangeably.
To determine which pipe is best for each occasion, it’s important to understand the main differences between common types of plumbing pipe, and what makes them best for certain applications.
While plumbing pipes all fulfill the same basic purpose, there are some major differences between pipes in commercial properties. Here are seven very commonly used plumbing pipes that you’re likely to find in most commercial properties in Chicago:
PEX plumbing pipes are exclusively used for water supply lines, often in smaller commercial premises. This type of plumbing pipe is incredibly flexible, color-coded, and requires minimal ongoing maintenance after the initial installation.
PEX pipes are more expensive than some water supply pipe alternatives, they’re relatively quick to install, are straightforward to cut, and are not prone to leaking. However, PEX pipes are limited to indoor installation, as they’re susceptible to damage from UV rays.
Stainless steel is one of the most expensive plumbing pipe options on the market, and due to the cost, it’s often not the preferred choice for many commercial applications, despite its superior aesthetic appeal in comparison to most alternative options.
However, in coastal locations where there’s a high risk of corrosion, stainless steel can be a highly effective choice. Stainless steel is also commonly used where superior strength is required. Both flexible and rigid stainless-steel piping are available.
Copper plumbing pipes are also available in rigid and flexible varieties, which are both used for water supply lines. Rigid copper pipes are easy to cut, although they can be more difficult to install than some alternatives, as soldering is required to connect the pipes.
Flexible copper pipes are normally used for short stretches of piping, such as to refrigerators; this type of piping does not have a high temperature tolerance, and due to this, is generally used indoors. Copper is a strong, corrosion-resistant choice, that has a good tolerance to pressure, but is quite expensive.
PVC plumbing pipes are a very modern option of commercial property plumbing pipe and are used for waste and drain lines, as well as vents. This type of pipe is lightweight, simple to install, and quite strong. PVC pipes can’t often be used in areas where there are extreme temperatures, as they don’t stand up well to extreme cold or heat. The piping is also not tolerant to UV light, and is normally used on commercial property interiors.
Brass plumbing pipes are ideal for hot and cold-water distribution and chromed brass is commonly used for waste lines. The material is highly resistant to rust and corrosion, which makes it a suitable choice for many applications. Brass is also very durable and has a considerably higher lifespan when compared to many alternative water supply pipe options. This type of pipe can be used instead of stainless steel for an easier thread.
Cast iron plumbing pipe is often used as the main pipe in commercial drain lines, but it can also be used for water distribution. These pipes are heavier than many alternatives, but can withstand high pressure, offer noise-insulation, and are resistant to fire. Cast iron pipes can convey large quantities of fluid, although the installation can be expensive.
CPVC plumbing pipes are used for both hot and cold-water supply lines. This type of plumbing pipe offers good heat resistance but is not as suitable for freezing temperatures. The piping can be installed easily and it’s suitable for high-pressure applications. CPVC is relatively inexpensive, despite its high performance.
While some plumbing pipes are flexible and strong, others are rigid and rust-proof. Choosing the wrong plumbing pipe could leave you with some very serious and expensive problems. For the ultimate assurance that your plumbing pipe is suitable for a particular purpose, consulting a trained commercial plumber in Westmont, IL is essential.
Arco Plumbing provides comprehensive residential and commercial plumbing services in Chicago, covering every plumbing project, including the selection and installation of plumbing pipes. Our experts are highly-trained and experienced in all forms of commercial plumbing, making us the perfect service to make sure that your plumbing is nothing short of perfect.
If you’re considering changing your plumbing, or require new plumbing pipe installation, then make our team your first point of call. Our commercial plumbing pipe expertise will provide all the guidance you need to select the best, most cost-effective plumbing pipe for your commercial property.
Bathrooms are one of the most unique rooms in the house, but when it comes to health and safety at home, that’s not always a good thing. An abundance of hard tiles, smooth porcelain, and sleek metal, combined with a lot of water, creates an environment where it’s very easy to slip and fall.
Nobody is exempt from the dangers of a bathroom environment, people of all ages injure themselves in the bathroom every year, a figure that is in the hundreds of thousands. A bathroom can be very dangerous, but it doesn’t have to be!
There are many small ways that you can upgrade your bathroom to make it safer, more practical, and better-looking – none of which have to break the bank. Here are ten excellent ways to lower the risk of slipping in the bathroom, whilst still keeping the beauty of your bathroom intact:
Tip One: Buy A Quality Bath Mat
Buying a bath mat is one of the least expensive and simplest investments that you can make to upgrade your bathroom. The small purchase can make getting in and out of the shower or bath much safer, and make sure that your feet are dry before you step onto your bathroom tiles or laminate flooring. Most types of bath mats will suffice, as long as the mat doesn’t slide around on the floor of the bathroom.
Tip Two: Invest in Shower Mats and Bath Tub Mats
While it’s understandable that you may not want your bathroom to become ‘the room of many mats’, twinning your bath mat with a non-slip mat inside your shower or bath tub is a wise investment.
It can get very slippery inside baths and showers, and a non-slip mat will help to make sure that you can stand and move around a lot safer. Slip resistant bath mats will also making getting out of the bath much easier.
Tip Three: Upgrade to Non-Slip Flooring
A step above a mat outside your shower or bath is to upgrade to non-slip flooring. Bathroom flooring is often made from materials that are easy to clean, to lower home maintenance, and materials that are resistant to water damage. Changing to a specialist non-slip material will still mean that your bathroom is easy to clean and resistant to water damage, but the surface will be a lot safer.
Tip Four: Install Bars in Your Bathroom
It’s often not the actual slip that causes an injury but hitting the hard bathroom floor. Grab bars or hand grips are an incredibly effective way to prevent most types of slipping accidents in the bathroom.
Bars can be installed anywhere in a bathroom, but they can be most effective in places around the bath or shower and around the toilet, where slipping is very common. There are many design styles to choose from for an aesthetically pleasing bar, so you don’t need to alter your bathroom design too drastically.
Tip Five: Keep Water Contained with Shower Curtains
Shower curtains are more than just a design feature, they’re very important for keeping water inside the bath tub and shower where it’s less likely to cause you to slip and fall. Investing in a quality shower curtain will help to prevent those dangerous little puddles forming just outside the tub that can very easily be slipped on.
Tip Six: Make Sure Your Bathroom Has Good Lighting
Being able to see the dangers in your bathroom is one of the best preventive measures that you can take to avoiding them. Good bathroom lighting, that lights up every corner of your bathroom, will help to make sure that you don’t miss any puddles of water or slippery spots on the floor.
Good natural lighting and night lights can be just as helpful as the main artificial lighting, so it’s worth making sure that your bathroom windows are unobstructed and even think about investing in a small bathroom night light.
Tip Seven: Install a Chair in Your Shower
A shower seat is a bigger investment than a bath mat, but it’s an essential if you or one of your family members has trouble standing for prolonged periods in the shower. Being able to sit in the shower can prevent a lot of accidents and make showering easier for many people.
There are different styles of shower seat available, including ones that easily fold up, so the shower can still be used as a standing shower for other members of the family.
Tip Eight: Refinish Your Bath Tub
An alternative to a mat inside your bath is to refinish the bottom of the bath tub. There are a range of textured agents available that transform the bottom of the bath tub into a textured surface. These can make the tub surface much easier to grip without having to add a separate mat to the tub.
Tip Nine: Invest in A Taller Toilet
A taller toilet is a brilliant investment for adult-only homes where there is unlikely to be a child that needs to use the toilet. Taller toilets are easier to use and can lower the risk of falling around the toilet area when sitting down or standing up.
Many general plumbing services in the Westmont, IL area cover the installation of standard and taller toilets, so you shouldn’t have any problem getting one installed in your home.
Tip Ten: Keep Your Bathroom Plumbing Maintained
There is a lot that you can add to your bathroom to make it a safer environment, but there’s also a lot going on behind the scenes that needs to be considered when trying to make sure that your bathroom is as safe as possible.
All that plumbing for your shower, bath, sink, and toilet should be regularly maintained as part of your standard home maintenance. Good plumbing home maintenance will help to prevent leaks that can lead to slippery surfaces and pools of water that may go unnoticed.
Arranging for a Chicago plumber who provides general plumbing services in your area to inspect your plumbing after any installation, or every now and again, will give you a peace of mind about the general safety of your bathroom.
You don’t need to completely overhaul your bathroom to make it a safe part of your home. Just taking on board a handful of the top tips here and getting your plumbing regularly checked, will improve your bathroom and make it safer for the whole family to use every day.
Although there are a wide variety of different reasons why pests are attracted to certain households, one of the most common is plumbing leaks and other related issues. This is due to the fact that water and the accessibility of it makes a building or home more appealing to pests and vermin. Even if you are fastidious about emptying and draining the sink after washing the dishes or emptying the bathtub after you’ve washed, rodents and insects can still find other parts of your property where they can find water.
Rodents, bugs and other home invaders can enter your home and find water at any point throughout your plumbing system, whether your garden hose, sewage line or your bathroom and kitchen faucets.
It is often the case that people don’t actually realize their home has a plumbing problem until they actually see signs of pests. There are some very common problems with plumbing though that can actually make it easier for pests such as rodents and insects to infest a property.
Leaks in your plumbing system can happen anywhere, but often they occur in places that you can easily check just by looking. By carrying out routine inspections of these areas you will be able to detect any leaks early and reduce the risk of pests infested your home. If you just see one bug drinking at the little droplets of water you left after your bath or shower, it may not be a sign of an infestation. However, if you regularly catch several bugs in the same place this is more than likely a sign that you have a big pest problem on your hands. While visible leaks are easier to spot, it is not just visible leaks that attract pests.
Some leaks happen in areas of the property that are harder to gain access to, like under your floorboards, behind the walls and even underground. Most commonly though, they do happen in the easier to access places. Worn washers can cause leaky kitchen and bathroom faucets. Rusting water control valves, fixtures or drains are all signs that there is leaking water somewhere.
When inspecting the hardware on sinks and the sinks themselves, check any cabinets you have and below and behind them if you can. Be sure to also check the sink trap or garbage disposal for any signs of moisture. You should contact a plumber if you do spot any as soon as possible, as they will be able to get to the bottom of where the leak is coming from.
Another common area you should regularly check for signs of moisture is underneath your fridge and freezer. If there is space beneath it, side a pan under to collect any water that may be there because of condensation and be sure to empty the pan regularly. For fridges with ice-makers, you need to check the line that runs to the freezer too as these are usually made from plastic and are susceptible to breaks and tears. Even just a minor tear in this line could produce the right volume of water to attract and satisfy a whole colony of pesky pests.
While inspecting your fridge for signs of leaks, you should take the opportunity to look at all other appliances that are connected up to your plumbing systems, such as your dishwasher and washing machine. It is also worth checking plumbing pipe seals where they come in at the walls. There should be some sort of sealant, like insulation, rubber gaskets or metallic plates. This prevents pests from accessing your property. Any gaps in these sealants are an easy way for all kinds of pests to get into your home.
As leaks are possible both inside your household and outside it too, it is vital that you inspect the outside as well. Make sure the spigots on the exterior of the property are free of leaks and inspect any hoses or sprinklers you have for leaks. While inspecting the outside of your house, check your air conditioner for any signs of leaks. If the drainage lines to the air conditioner are blocked there will be a pool of water around your air con unit. Get in contact with an air conditioner repair business if there is any stagnant water close by and do what you can to disperse the water. You need to also ensure that the condensation pans are empty.
We have covered in a lot of detail the type of leaks and moisture issues you should regularly check for to prevent the risk of pest infestation in your home. But, what bugs and other pests are most attracted to water. The answer is that most are in some way attracted to it, therefore, where there are unwanted leaks – eventually, there will be pests. This includes the likes of:
Now that we have covered the kinds of pests that could be attracted to any leaks you may have in your home, visible or hard to spot, you are probably wondering how you check for signs that you may already have a pest invasion in your home. There are a number of different, but common signs of infestations.
Pests like rats, mice, and cockroaches are known to be more active in darker areas of buildings and at night. However, you may still catch a glimpse of them in the light of day. If you do though, it may be a sign that your pest problem is serious. So keep your eyes peeled.
You should also be on the lookout for any dead bodies of pests that might have died after being attracted to a leakage. Check the crawlspace/basement and windowsills for bodies, particularly if you have recently found a leak or it had it repaired. If you find a number of bodies of the same species, this could be an indication that a colony of that pest or bug are living in or on your property.
Mice, rats and other vermin like them will build nests from the materials they find. Therefore, look for any shredded paper or fabric around areas where pests are likely to hide out, such as behind appliances and inside cupboards and cabinets.
Mice and rats have teeth that are constantly growing, which means they are always looking to chew on things. It doesn’t matter if it is sheet-rock, wood, wiring, plastic, insulation or even pipes – rodents will try and gnaw into it all. This means that they will not hesitate to chew on any furniture you have. If you spot any unexplained bite marks on table or chair legs, there is a strong possibility you have a rodent problem. Also be sure to check skirting boards, floorboards and furniture bases too.
Carpet beetles and garment moths are drawn particularly to things made from natural fabrics, like leather book bindings, upholstery, carpets, curtains, and rugs. However, fabric pests tend to damage woolen carpets the most. Woolen textiles that you dry clean regularly could still be damaged by these kinds of pests, if your home is under attack. The damage usually looks like irregularly shaped holes, in a similar way to leaves that have been eaten by caterpillars.
Furthermore, any new holes in the floors or walls of your home may suggest you have a rodent problem. This is even more likely if you have spotted burrows in sections of your lawn where the grass is longer or around your garbage store.
Rodents tend to use the same pathways to and from their nests, but don’t restrict your search to floors because both mice and rats are excellent climbers. Look for any giveaway signs of urine, droppings, grease marks and footprints.
If you spot any of the above signs of leaks and signs of pests, it is important to deal with them by hiring professionals that can deal with the problems. Failing to do this, could cost you even more money in the long run as well as increasing the amount you will have to spend on repairs.
There are many reasons you should be conserving water at home, the main two being that it will save you a lot of money in the long run and that using too much water is wasteful and harmful to the planet. However, all of us use copious amounts of water and it is sometimes a little tricky to see where we can cut back. Luckily, we’ve got a few sneaky tips on how to save water, even in the busiest of homes!
This may seem a little strange, but trust us, it’s a perfect way to conserve water and one that once you’re in the habit, you’ll wonder why you didn’t start using this sneaky little trick before! Think of all the water you waste at home from tasks such as: rinsing vegetables, rinsing utensils, boiling food (such as eggs and certain vegetables). If you’ve not used a harsh cleaning solution or chemical product, the chances are that you’re throwing away perfectly decent water.
Although you may not want to use this ‘dirty water’, it can be used for so many other things, such as: watering plants and washing the yard. Be creative when using up leftover water, just ensure that it only contains unharmful elements, i.e you’ve not used any harmful products (such as bleach) with it.
Whilst some people have no problem in collecting rainwater to drink and cook with (if you do this, you should first check that the area you live in has safe to drink rainwater. Regardless, you should do your research on how to properly filter and sterilize the rainwater first anyway), many haven’t got the time, nor do they really want to do this method of recycling rainwater. Instead, conserve rainwater to put in birdbaths, wash gardening tools, water the plants, and even flush the toilet!
If you have a habit of turning on the tap and leaving it whilst you do something else, you’re wasting a huge amount of water. Try to only turn on the tap when you actually need water. This means when you’re brushing your teeth, washing your hands, washing the dishes, and more. Just don’t leave the tap running!
Consider washing yourself or other items in a bucket or tub. This will conserve so much water! You can also fill up the wash basin for the same results.
If you love icy cold water to drink, you probably have to leave the tap running for a number of minutes before it’s at the right temperature for you. Instead of doing this, keep a jug, glass or other kind of container in the fridge especially for water. Top it up frequently and you’ll always have a refreshing drink at hand, stopping you from wasting a load of water.
A leak in your home may not seem like a huge deal if it is only small, however, there are so many different reasons as to why you should have it fixed as soon as possible. A small leak will save bucket loads of water in the long run, plus, leaving a leak only runs the risk of future larger problems (such as an even bigger leak, or even worse, mold and water damage in your house). Get leaks fixed quickly to avoid spending even more money on repairs and wasted water further down the line!
We all love to spend a long time washing the stresses of the day away, however, try to keep extremely lengthy showers to a minimum as the amount of water you’re using will build up, as will the price of your water heating bill. For everyday showers, keep them quick and only use up the water you need.
Do you ever try and flush away products down the toilet? Earbuds, sanitary products, excessive tissue paper, cigarette butts and more? If the answer is yes, you need to stop. Flushing away anything other than natural waste increases your water usage. This is because the water needed to clear away the excess junk increases. Instead, have a waste paper basket in your bathroom where cotton pads and buds, extra tissue paper and more can be thrown into instead. This will also reduce the risk of pipes becoming blocked, so it’s an all-round great solution.
Garbage disposals are great but when they are used often, they use up copious amounts of water. Rather than throw everything in the garbage disposal, invest in a compost bin. It will save you money and is a fantastic solution for the earth too.
We understand that everyone wants to have a sparkly and well looked after car. However, there comes a time when it becomes too much. Only give your car a good clean when it really needs some TLC. Better still, take your car to be washed professionally and ask them how they cut back and reuse water for the best environmentally friendly option. If you simply have to wash your car every weekend, use a bucket instead of opting for a hosepipe.
When it’s time to wash a pile of clothes, you should always make sure your load is perfect. This means no overfilling or underfilling your machine! Putting a huge load of clothes into your washing machine will mean that clothes are not washed properly, meaning you will have to wash them again – what a waste of water!
The same goes for loads that are extremely small, yes, your clothes will get washed well but by repeatedly putting in small loads of clothes, you’re wasting a lot of water. Wait until you have a reasonably sized pile of clothes before banging them into the wash. The same applies to colors, fabrics, delicates, etc. Make sure you’re putting the correct clothes together, so that you don’t have to waste water rewashing and/or correcting mistakes.
Sometimes we can all forget to take meat out of the freezer for dinner, resulting in us trying to defrost it quickly and conveniently by placing it in a bowl of water. This is great for a quick fix but if you are stuck in this habit, think of how much water you’re using up unnecessarily every day! Plan ahead and defrost meat and other food overnight by placing it in a covered dish in the refrigerator. It conserves water this way and is actually arguably healthier.
If you have an old-fashioned home, the chances are you have certain old-fashioned appliances that are not energy efficient. The toilet, washing machine and dishwasher are three household appliances that use up a considerable amount of water. Check to see if there are any other models that are more modern and could save you using a lot of water.
Pop a lid on top of your cooking pans to trap water and create steam. Doing this will speed up cooking time (cutting back on gas and/or electricity) and means you will conserve much more in the pan than you would sans lid.
The ways listed above only scratch the surface of ways for you to save water in your household. There are multiple ways you can conserve water and cut back on bills in your own home. It all depends on how you already use water and to what extent you want to cut back. However you decide, if you start to make changes now, water saving habits will soon become second nature to you and will result in heaps of positive results for you and your family in the future.
What is Hard Water?
You’ve likely heard the term tossed around in your lifetime, but how many of us have the slightest clue what “hard water” really is or what kind of effect it has on us or are homes? We’re envisioning only a small number of hands currently raised in the audience, which means that this is a great chance to address this nuisance of society (When we say society, we don’t just mean modern society. Even the Romans dealt with hard water; they performed regular maintenance on Roman aqueducts to remove the accumulating deposits that hindered water flow).
Hard water is a naturally occurring geological process characterized by the presence of the materials calcium and magnesium in our water. Hard water begins as rainwater, becomes groundwater, then filters through limestone, soil, lakes, and rivers. Along the way, the water picks up like calcium, magnesium, iron, and other elements.
The majority of American households experience some level of hard water. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, it is estimated that more than 89% of the water used by consumers in the US can be classified at some level of “hard” water.*
Effects on Humans
There have been a plethora of studies performed over the years on the effects of hard water. As one would expect, there are differing opinions on those effects. The consensus is as follows: There are no serious harmful effects of consuming or interacting with hard water. But the word “serious” is interesting in that sentence. When it comes to hard water, multiple people will define “serious” quite differently.
Skin – The minerals in hard water have a chemical reaction with soap, which makes it more difficult for soap and shampoo to dissolve. The result is soap scum, a nightmare not just for showers, but also skin. That scummy residue blocks pores, choking off the skin’s natural moisture and oils. Irritation follows, and with it, itchy, dry, and flaky skin. And, if individuals already have pre-existing skin problems like psoriasis or eczema, research suggests that they’ll be further irritated by hard water.
Hair – In its quest to aggravate you as much as possible, hard water even wants a piece of your lovely hair. Our hair follicles consist of a system of scales that run down the length of each strand. In healthy hair, the scales are smooth and cohesive. With hard water, the minerals interact with shampoo and lift the scales, leading to:
Rougher, tangled hair
Hair that is more difficult to wash
Eczema of the scalp in some cases
Hard Water’s Effects on Equipment and Plumbing
Hardwater is an equal opportunity nuisance, and its effects go beyond wrecking your hair and making your skin feel like sandpaper. Anything in your home that deals with water can turn into a scummy, scaly victim.
As you know, the minerals in hard water interact chemically with soap, the result of which is “scale” or calcium deposits. Scale is the chalky, off-white substance that remains after the water in your shower has evaporated. You’ll notice the appearance of rampant scale and soap scum more often than you should, meaning that you’ll find yourself in your bathroom or kitchen frequently throwing elbow grease at the problem.
Scale makes messy nightmares of bathtubs, showers, tiles, and fixtures. In the kitchen, hard water deposits produce a spotty and dingy look that appears on drinking glasses, pots, pans, dishes, and silverware. And soap isn’t always necessary to see the effects of hard water. Combine a runny toilet or a dripping faucet with hard water and you’re in for some unsightly rust stains.
The water-related technology in your home also pays the price. Hard water wears out and reduces the efficiency of dishwashers, icemakers, washing machines, and water heaters. And through the gradual buildup of mineral sediments, less water flows through these machines. Professionals estimate that these machines wear out 30% faster, prompting replacement before necessary.
But what about the piping running water into those machines? Your homes pipes are one of the hardest hit aspects of hard water. Scale builds up inside the pipes over time, eventually choking off the flow of water, which opens the door to a host of serious and expensive plumbing issues.
Laundry – Washing clothes in hard water is less than optimal. It’s difficult for soap and clothing to properly interact due to the added minerals in the water. Hard water decreases detergent’s lathering ability and makes it less likely that detergent will properly wash away. As a result, residue accumulates on clothing the same way soap scum accumulates on skin and shower surfaces. Freshness, softness, fragrance are all sacrificed in addition to appearance: washing over time results in a gray/yellowish tint that robs clothes of brightness. And it’s even worse for towels.
How Can You Fix Hard Water?
The first step is to address how “hard” the water is, which you can discover by purchasing one of the DIY kits on the market. If you discover that the problem is substantial, look into the various filtration systems available to consumers.
For drinking and cooking purposes, consider installing an ion exchange filter, either a pitcher or faucet model (experts recommend that you look for a model that allows you to switch between filtered and nonfiltered water. Ion filtered water doesn’t work as well for plant watering, for example, because of the high sodium content).
When it comes to laundry, you can purchase non-precipitating water condition, which arrests the minerals in hard water, prevents the minerals from interacting with soap and clothing, and allows detergent to function properly.
For your entire home, there are several methodologies from which to choose. The technology behind how these options work can get a little sticky, so we’ll give you a brief overview which you can use as a springboard into conducting your own research.
The main options are salt-based water softeners, salt-free softeners, and filters.
Also referred to as ion-exchange softener
Uses salt/sodium to change the chemistry of the calcium/magnesium in the water, thus removing changing the elements
Leverages a filtration tank system that cleans water before releasing into your home
Less ideal for drinking/cooking water and watering plants
Salt-based models are better at providing the real, slick feeling of natural water.
Salt-free Water Softener
With no salt present, calcium and magnesium are not removed or washed out.
Instead, the water is conditioned so that these elements lose their ability to bind to things like soaps and surfaces
The unwanted elements are still present, so water is not actually “softened”
Leverages an actual filter that allows water molecules through but blocks others, including calcium and magnesium
Softens water, removes any funny tastes/smells
Wastes significant amount of water in the process, making it very inefficient for some homeowners
These methods can also be used on a smaller scale on specific faucets and incoming pipes. Finally, as you research the best method for you, consider cost, maintenance, and installation.
Hard water creates serious problems for millions of Americans. Luckily, there are ways to curtail its effects, reducing it from a major problem to a minor inconvenience. If you’re experiencing some of the harmful effects of hard water and it’s ruining items in your home like your pipes, faucets, and water heater, call the Arco team. Whether replacing damaged parts or giving you the best advice to help you work through your problem, we’ve got your back.