Over 80% of homes have either hard water, water contaminants, or both—chances are you need some sort of water treatment system in your home to guarantee clean, healthy water. To determine if you have hard water or contaminants, have a professional plumber, such as Weather Master, test your water. The solutions can include a water filter and water softener.
Hard water is dissolved calcium and magnesium that accumulate to create the lime scale you see on faucets, appliances, and dishes. It’s not dangerous, but will shorten the life of your water-using appliances, clog fixtures, and limit the effectiveness of soaps and detergents. Most people use water conditioners or softeners to correct hard water and rust.
Water contaminants include lead, bacteria/parasites, rust/sediment, and contaminants that cause bad taste or odor.
- Lead can come from pipes installed before 1986 or from your water provider’s components if they are soldered with lead. It is odorless and tasteless.
- Bacteria and parasites are more likely if you have a well, but are possible even with municipal water. Some bacteria are natural even in clean water, but you want to remove those that come from contaminated water.
- Sediment is visible particles that collect behind aerators, in the bottom of water glasses, or in the bottom of dishwaters or toilet bowls. Rust can leave hard-to-remove red stains in tubs and toilets.
- Bad odor and taste can come from many sources. Municipal water can be treated with chlorine, affecting the smell. Well water is notorious for both bad taste and smell.
Water filters and reverse-osmosis systems can help with most contamination:
- Whole-house filters are installed in the main water line and remove sediment and rust where water enters your home.
- Undersink filters are installed under each sink, out of sight. Some filter one or two contaminants while others filter every type. However, they don’t remove any contaminants from water used in appliances such as ice makers and dishwashers.
- Faucet mounted filters are very visibly attached to the side of a faucet; like undersink filters, some remove a few contaminants while some remove every type. These are easiest to install, but provide limited effectiveness.
If you have hard water, you need a water softener or conditioner; if you have water that tastes and smells bad, you need some type of water filter. For most of us, a combination of both is the optimal solution — a water filter for contaminants and a water conditioner for rust and hard water buildup will work together to give the best water possible.