Is Hard Water Wrecking Havoc on Your Home & Life?

Recently, I have been weighing out the pros and cons of different homes and all the features that homeowners and potential homebuyers find valuable and I think I've found the most under-valued item in  the City of Edmonton: Water Softeners!

Why water softeners, you ask? Well, because Edmonton has some seriously hard water!  If you've lived here through a winter season without a water softener, you'll know what I'm talking about.

First of all, let's discuss what hard water is.  Hard water is water that has a high mineral content.  Minerals, such as calcium, limestone & magnesium may be found in higher quantities in hard water. Seems harmless enough, right? Wrong! These minerals are the same minerals that build up in caves from water dripping and they create the beautiful formations we know as stalactites and stalagmites. They're lovely to look at in caves when we go exploring, but that exploration shouldn't be such a short trip down the stairs to the utility room in your home!  Okay, okay - I know that is an extreme comparison, but it does make you stop and think doesn't it?

Now, take a moment and think about all the places in your home that are directly exposed to water on a regular basis:

  • Hot Water Tank
  • Humidifier (commonly attached to your furnace)
  • Kitchen Faucet
  • Dishwasher
  • Showerheads and Bathtubs, Bathroom Sinks & Toilets
  • Washing Machine
  • Refrigerator Water Dispenser / Ice Maker
  • Plumbing in the walls, etc

Now, visualize with me the hard white build-up on some of these items. See it? Have you ever tried to get that stuff off? If you have, you've likely done one of two things: given up and resigned yourself to living with it or tossed out the offending item and gotten a new one.  Or, you've gone to the store and purchased a product like CLR® to try to get it cleaned off, just like you saw on TV. But, you're only cleaning the surface, not the inner-workings and the pipes, so are you really solving the problem?

Do a quick search online for "effects of hard water" and you'll find a ton of great information from experts including plumbers, appliance companies, water softener manufacturers and even healthcare professionals. You'll learn that hard water can cost you thousands of dollars during your lifetime, as it causes up to 50% faster wear and tear on your home's plumbing systems, appliances, your dishes, your clothes and even your hair colour.  You will spend more time and money trying to deal with fixing the problems caused by hard water than you would have if you had simply prevented it in the first place.

Don't believe me? Think about these every-day examples for a moment:

  • Your laundrey detergent just doesn't seem to lather up well, so you use more than the manufacturer recommends. Why?  Hard water.
  • Your skin seems to be always dry, flaky, itchy and your hair is always staticky and no amount of skin cream or conditioner gives long-term relief. Why? Hard water.
  • Your dishes come out of the dishwasher all spotty and foggy.  Your laundry comes out of the dryer looking dull and your towels aren't fluffy and soft.  Your bathroom never quite looks sparkling clean.  Why? Hard water!
  • Your hair colour looks faded and brassy very soon after visiting the salon. Why?  You got it! Hard water done it.

How much extra are you spending on all of these things because of hard water? How much would you save each month or year if you could prevent this from happening? 

Some people believe that if they just buy a brand new house that they are better off because everything is new, so all they have to do is maintain it and it will last longer and be worth more than an older home when they decide to sell in the future, but they skip out on getting a water softener system built in because it isn't considered a standard appliance and the builder may not include it in their advertised pricing. So, the new homeowner forgoes the up-front expense thinking everything will be fine in their brand new untarnished home.  Seems reasonable, right?  Wrong!  Hard water mineral deposits start building up and doing their dirty work behind the scenes from day one and that new home, those new appliances, new clothes, new dishes are going to look old and worn out 50% faster than if you had just put in the water softener sytem right away.  Who has money for that kind of waste?  Not me!

So, what can you do? If you currently own your own home, call a plumber right away and ask them how soon you can get a water softener installed in your home. Be sure you get a local licensed professional who knows what they are doing and ask if they can by-pass your hot water tank (trust me - I learned that lesson the hard way and just bought myself a new hot water tank! That's a story for another time.)

If you're currently looking to buy a home, ask your Real Estate Agent to look for homes that have water softeners.  The houses that have a water softener in them are worth more in the long run because they will cost you less in the future.  Because this topic is not commonly discussed and water softeners are undervalued, homes with water softeners are often priced similarly to comparable homes in the area, so you're likely to find a bargain by searching for homes that have them.

In conclusion, remember that the greater Edmonton area has hard water and you need to protect your biggest investment by preventing unnecessary wear and tear on your home, your possessions and your body by avoiding and preventing hard water at the source.

Have questions about buying or selling a home in the Edmonton area? Get it touch ~ I'd love to help!

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