The majority of Americans have access to clean, safe water filtered through the public water systems. That being said, viruses and bacteria can still slip through the system and into your water, and about 80% of the country also has hard water in their tap. Hard water is a term for water that has extra deposits of minerals in it that are picked up as the water flows through the ground and plumbing. Water softener easily filters out these extra minerals, but what are the drawbacks and benefits to water softeners? Here we answer your most burning questions about your water, and explain how you can take charge of it in your home.

Is hard water safe to drink?

Yes, although very hard water with a greater concentration of extra minerals, often seen around big metro areas, can taste a little gross. Much of the minerals typically in hard water, like magnesium, are actually found in our food and essential for our health. However, untreated tap water still carries a risk of bacteria and viruses. For this reason, simple water treatments like a reverse osmosis system can be a good choice for your family’s kitchen sink, to ensure the cleanest and safest water possible. What does a reverse osmosis system do, you ask? It uses a simple process to filter out nasty microorganisms and even very lightly softens your water, less so than an all-out water softener system, which improves taste.

Why is there so much gross buildup in my shower?

If you have hard water in your home, it’s flowing into your sinks, showers, and bathtubs. The high content of minerals in the water slowly begins to leave a chalky residue behind, mostly made up of magnesium and calcium. Not only does it look gross, it’s a pain to scrub off.

Why is my washing machine or dishwasher not working as well as it used to?

Any appliance that uses water will slow down in efficiency because of the mineral buildup from hard water. The hard water buildup can even start to show up on dishes and cooking utensils. Gross! This is one reason a family may opt for a water softener and filtration system in their kitchen despite hard water being safe as drinking water.

Why do my skin and hair feel so dry lately?

People often report that they see a difference in their hair and skin when they switch to showering with softened water. The extra minerals in hard water can make soap less effective, leaving a filmy feeling on your skin. Hard water is tough on hair, often leaving hair more frizzy and dull than if you showered with a water softener system.

Okay, I have softened water. Why are my plants not thriving anymore?

Water softener systems often use sodium to help soften hard water, and high levels of sodium can spell bad news for plants over time. It’s like pouring salt water into your houseplants or garden. So yes, while softened water is typically great for the rest of your house, your plants prefer hard water when they can’t get natural rain.

Whether you’re debating on getting a complete water softening system, just curious about the state of your water, or wondering why your green thumb has seemingly been withering recently, hopefully these essential answers about household water can give you insight into your home’s flows.

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