The difference between hard and soft water is one that can play a major factor when deciding where to live. Usually there’s not a viable option to choose between water variety without installing expensive utilities to artificially soften water delivered to a property. While both soft and hard water is perfectly safe to consume, the issue lies in the effect that these types of water might have upon the water supply pipes and infrastructure. Here we’ll take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of both, and highlight some of the most important issues when considering how water style can affect a property in the medium/long term.
The overwhelming majority of bottled mineral waters are supplied from soft sources. This is because they are easier on the taste buds while also comprised of essential minerals from source. However – hard water is typically much denser in mineral content, so much so that the difference between taste and texture is very noticable even to the casual consumer. As a consequence hard water usually has a slightly more bitter or acidic taste, while very soft water may have a little more salty or rich texture. It is important to remember though that there is no evidence that either soft or hard water makes any difference to personal health.
There is a clear line of difference when it comes to washing in different waters. Hard water, due to it’s denser mineral content will likely dry out hair and skin – sometimes causing flaky scalp/dandruff etc. On the other hand, soft water may encourage a more oily skin texture and cause hair to become flat and listless. In general terms hard water can potentially be a nuisance, however the regular use of moisturizers and similar skin or hair care products will most likely solve the issue.
The Pipe Clogging Effect
Hard water can cause pipes to slowly accumulate mineral deposits. This will, over time, lead to degradation not only of the water supply (lower water pressure etc.) but also increase the risk of bacterial growth too. It’s one of the main reasons why areas with a harder water supply tend to also incorporate thicker and wider pipes to try to reduce the effect. To counteract the bacterial risk – which in most cases is minimal – most water authorities desalinate their networks every few years, yet those living in very old and isolated homes may find that installing a water softener can easily pay for itself over the longer term.
Central heating systems require water to run the radiators. These require ‘bleeding’ on an occasional basis mainly due to the build up of excess minerals (primarily calcium) that can cause them to fail. Those in softer water areas will likely need to perform such maintenance much less often.
So Should You Install A Water Softener?
Arguably yes – however for most domestic purposes these will be expensive and likely only devoted to certain water inlets to the property. In most cases it’s uneconomical to artificially soften water for anything beyond cooking or drinking needs.
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