Calcium and magnesium (the hardness minerals) can have very damaging affects on your home’s plumbing as well as your ability to clean, even though the EPA has no published limits on these. The EPA maximum allowable level for iron as a secondary contaminant is .3 parts per million and for manganese is .05 parts per million. Small amounts of these minerals can create very noticeable, even damaging affects on your home’s water quality.
A water softener will provide very noticeably cleaner water if you have elevated levels of hard water minerals, iron, or manganese. Dissolved forms of these contaminants can be removed with a water softener while particulate forms are removed with a properly specified sediment filter.
Hard water interferes with many cleaning tasks; doing the laundry, washing dishes & glassware, shampooing your hair, cleaning your skin, cleaning bathroom fixtures & surfaces. Washing your hair in hard water may leave it feeling sticky and dull. Dishes and glasses get spotted and a film may build up on shower doors, bathtubs, sinks and faucets. Clothes can look dingy and feel rough and scratchy. Hard water can also cause a residue to build-up in pipes that can lower water pressure and prematurely end the useful life of water using appliances such as hot water heaters, dishwashers and washing machines.
AFFECTS OF HARD WATER, MANGANESE & IRON
Hard water scale (see photo below) can build-up inside water heaters insulating the temperature sensor inside the tank creating extra work to bring the temperature up to the set level. This reduces the life of your hot water heater and will most likely require early replacement. Some other affects of these contaminants include corrosion and scaling inside pipes and major staining throughout the home’s showers, bathtubs, and sinks. For more on hard water, see https://water.usgs/hardness. For those using their well water for outside lawn irrigation, iron and manganese can cause major staining of outside walkways, house siding and anyplace the water touches. See the link at http://lawn-irrigation.
WHAT A WATER SOFTENER WILL REMOVE
A water softener is effective in removing dissolved forms of iron & manganese and hardness minerals. To remove particulate iron or manganese, water filtration utilizing a cartridge filter with proper micron rating will be effective. Depending on the specific situation, this could require a series of filters with different size micron ratings to handle heavier levels in the water. Selecting the appropriate micron rating and style of filter can be determined by a water treatment professional based on water test results and other symptoms.