Nearly 90 percent of American homes have hard water - water containing high levels of calcium and magnesium, according to The U.S. Geological Survey. The hardest water is commonly found in the states that run from Kansas to Texas as well as in Southern California. Hard water on its own is bad enough, making it difficult to wash clothes and dishes and leaving scaling on your pipes and showerheads as well as nasty brown rings in your sinks and toilets. However, it is also costing you money.
Research by the Battelle Institute found that with hard water, showerheads lost 75 percent of their flow rate in less than 18 simulated months and could not maintain the required flow rate because of scaling.
Water heaters are also negatively affected by hard water. When using softened water, researchers found that all the water heaters tested maintained 100 percent efficiency over a simulated 15-year lifetime, but with hard water, the gas and electric heater efficiency dropped by 25 percent - an incredible loss in energy resulting in significantly higher costs. In the case of the new instant tankless water heaters, hard water caused them to completely fail to function because of plugged-up scale, or mineral build-up associated with hard water, after only 1.6 years of simulated use - about a tenth the normal life of the appliance.
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