Hard Water Problems In Pittsburgh -- And How Soft Water Can Help.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, nearly 90 percent of American homes have hard water – mineral-rich water containing an overabundance of calcium and magnesium.
Hard water is tough on appliances and pipes. It also can be rough on you or your family's skin and hair.
Hard Water Prevention And Clean-Up
There are proactive steps you can take to stop hard water buildup from affecting your home or your family. This includes keeping your surfaces around water clean and dry, and using spray cleaner on shower doors and mirrors.
Home remedies can help temporarily. Most solutions involve white vinegar, which is a general household cleaning solution:
Chrome Faucets – Wrap paper towels or rag soaked in vinegar around the faucet and let it sit for an hour. Rinse and wipe it dry.
Shower Heads – Take off the shower head and soak it in white vinegar for 12 hours. Scrub with an old toothbrush, rinse and reinstall it.
Shower Doors – Spray with white vinegar or white wine to remove lime scale and hard water stains.
Dishwashers – Once a month, add a cup of white vinegar to your dishwasher and run it through a cycle.
Washing Machines – Add a gallon of white vinegar to the empty washing machine and run through a cycle with hot water.
Toilet Tanks – add three cups of white vinegar to your toilet tank.
Coffee Makers – Run a cycle unfiltered through the reservoir full of white vinegar to remove mineral deposits. Run two more full 12-cup brewing cycles with regular water to clean the coffee maker.
Sinks and Tubs – Spray the surface with lemon juice or vinegar, let sit for half hour. Wipe clean.
Shower Head Water Filters -- Perfect For Renters!
In addition to reducing chemical exposure when you shower, shower head filters can also improve your hair’s shine and feel, as well as support healthier, softer skin by minimizing contact with chemicals and toxins. If you choose a water filter that softens water as well, you’ll also notice that you need less soap, shampoo, and conditioner to get the job done as soft water helps very little product lather up quickly — saving you money with every single shower.
Shower head filters can be useful even — and especially — if you live in a dorm, rental home, or apartment, or somewhere that already features water filtration. Not all water filters are created equal, so unless you’ve done the research to know exactly what kind of water filter your water is passing through, it may not make much difference when it comes to your general health, hair or skin care routine.
Softeners and filtration systems need to be serviced regularly to be effective, so if your landlord or property manager isn’t on top of the recommended maintenance, a shower head filter can be a great choice to ensure your shower is not only safe, but easier on your hair and skin. An extra bonus? Your shower will also be easier to clean, since shower head filters make it less likely water will leave unsightly or hard-to-remove hard water spots and residue on the shower and fixtures.
Can Soft Water Cause Hair Loss?
The short answer is no. Many people may notice a change in their hair if they move from a location with hard water to a location with soft water, however this change is generally unrelated to the amount of hair you have (or whether it’s falling out)— rather it has to do with the quality of your hair. In general, other changes in your environment are likely causing any hair loss, specifically changes to your diet and stress levels. If you’ve begun eating more poorly than you’re used to, or recently experienced a stressful event like moving homes or starting a new job, the hair loss culprit is more likely that than your water quality.
How Does Hard Water Affect My Skin and Hair?
Soap scum isn’t just for your bathroom tiles – it can build up on your skin, too. The minerals in hard water leave a film around your epidermis that clogs your pores, trapping the natural oils and forming blemishes.
The natural oils in your skin work hard to lubricate and provide moisture. The film left around your skin clogs your pores, leaving your skin to feel dry and itchy.
Hard water may cause your skin to age faster. Dermatologist Dr. Dennis Gross says many of the impurities in hard water can form free radicals that damage healthy skin cells. This can lead to fine lines and wrinkles. This can also lead to a breakdown of collagen, a structural protein that helps your skin look and feel healthy.
How Does Hard Water Cause Bacterial Growth?
The School of Sustainable Engineering at Arizona State University has found that the hard water scaling normally found in the pipes of homes is an active environment for harmful bacteria growth.
The piping used in home plumbing, whether is copper or PVC, does not allow the bacteria to settle and grow, but over time, scaling from the hard water provides a surface for bacteria to grow on, increasing the risk of pathogenic bacteria such as Legionella, which can cause Legionnaire’s Disease.
Call Culligan before you have to call a plumber. Lime scale will reduce the flow of your water in your plumbing system by clogging up pipes. This is particularly a big issue for older homes with steel pipes. Your water pressure can lower over time, possibly needing to be replaced.
Can Hard Water Contribute To Skin Problems and Eczema?
The chronic, itchy skin rash that affects 20 percent of babies and young children is painful for your child, and a pain for you to deal with. Furthermore, while eczema conditions are known to improve with age, there is no true cure, and its regression is unpredictable in nature.
There are many preventative measures that people practice to mitigate the effects of eczema, or the chances of your child contracting it. Most are related to clothing, detergents, bathing, topical creams, certain diets, and prescription medicine.
But what about the effects of hard water on your baby’s skin? From the bathtub to the laundry, the water used during these essential life events can have an adverse effect on your child.
High levels of hard water in the Pittsburgh area are may be associated with atopic dermatitis (eczema). According to a new study led by King’s College London, living in a hard water area was associated with an up to 87% increased risk of baby eczema at three months of age, independent of domestic water chlorine content.
Lead author of the study Carsten Flohr, Ph.D. of the Institute of Dermatology at King’s College London, noted the purpose was not to study the causes and effects of eczema, but rather an association of homes that have hard water and the prevalence of eczema within those homes.
“We are about to launch a feasibility trial to assess whether installing a water softener in homes of high-risk children around the time of birth may reduce the risk of eczema, and whether reducing chlorine levels brings any additional benefits.”
How Does Hard Water Affect Clothing
As it turns out, calcium and magnesium can do a number on your laundry. The fabrics can stiffen and the color may dull if the dissolved minerals are not suspended in water when it is drained.
Many of your laundry detergents molecules are not being used properly, as they bind up the calcium and magnesium. This naturally leaves less of these molecules available to trap dirt and grime.
How Does Hard Water Cause Soap Scum and Spots
Soap scum is the white film that comes from the addition to the fatty contents of soap to the mineral-rich ions of hard water. These are technically called “lime soaps.”
This type of soap is ineffective in washing dishes, clothes or hair. Because of this, more soap is required to form a lather, and more can stick to your hair and skin. Synthetic detergents are less likely to make this reaction.
How To Fix Hard Water Spots On Fixtures and Appliances
Fixtures are often the hardest places to deal with hard water spots, because often you can’t see the heart of the problem. An easy way to deal with this, however, is to remove the fixtures (if you can) and soak them in a solution of vinegar or lemon juice. Even if it’s only a few hours, soaking fixtures helps dissolve hard water build up throughout the fixture and can access hard-to-reach places where build up can be causing the most issues.
If you can’t remove the fixtures, try filling a water-tight plastic bag with your vinegar or lemon solution and tying it to the fixture (rubber bands can be a great way to get this to hold.) Leave it on as long as you can, and you should find your fixtures running clearer than before.