Hard Water Basics: What Is Hard Water & What You Can Do About It

Over 85% of North American households live in areas with hard water. Yet many homeowners are still unsure of the effects of hard water on a house and what consequences their family may face because of it.

What Is Hard Water?

Hard water contains varying amounts of dissolved minerals like calcium, lead, and magnesium — with the very real possibility of many more. Water picks up these minerals as it trickles from its source and gets transported to your supply. The hard water level and specific minerals in your water depend on where it comes from and how long it takes to get to your home. The main reason many areas have different levels of hard water is because no supply is the same.

Hard water can have annoying to downright detrimental effects on your home and family, no matter the level. White, chalky residue on sinks and higher utility bills from appliances working overtime are just a few signs (and costly results) of hard water. Learn how to take the best care of your home and family by understanding the level of hard water in your area and its potential costly effects on your daily life.

Hard Water Map

Do you have hard water in your area? Explore the map to find out!

Top cities with hard water

  • Indianapolis, IN: Water in this area is supplied from surface and groundwater creeks containing calcium, magnesium and iron salts — producing a hard water rating of up to 20 gpg.
  • Las Vegas, NV: Water is carried into Lake Mead from the mineral-dense Colorado River resulting in 16+ gpg of hard water for homes in the Las Vegas area.
  • Minneapolis, MN: Manmade contaminants and mineral-heavy water from the Mississippi River, the area’s main water source, produce a 15+ gpg level for the Twin Cities.
  • Phoenix, AZ: Water is supplied to this area from both mineral dense groundwater and Lake Mead in Nevada, picking up additional minerals as it travels into the metro area and resulting in a 16 gpg level.
  • San Antonio, TX: Rainwater runs through soil and rock before it moves into the natural aquifers where water is collected, resulting in a large mineral collection of 15-20 gpg.
  • Tampa, FL: The water hardness fluctuates but can get up to 17 gpg during the dry season when there is less fresh rainwater to dilute the supply.

Without water softeners these minerals stay in the water you use every day, causing damaging effects.

View Our Water Softening System Selection

The Effects of Hard Water

Hard water can have harmful effects on your home and family. Find out the telltale signs of hard water causing issues around your home — you may be surprised by how familiar they sound.

The effects of hard water on skin and hair

  • Clogged pores and hair follicles due to film buildup
  • Flat, dull and brassy hair
  • Dry, itchy and sensitive skin
  • Natural oils stripped from the body causing a stiff, tight feeling
  • Mineral buildup on hair/scalp that can cause grease or dandruff

The effects of hard water on a house

  • Residue stains sinks, tubs, toilets and faucets
  • Spotty dishes from leftover calcium and magnesium
  • Clothing and towels fading and/or greying
  • Stiff, scruffy towels from rapid wear and tear
  • Appliances producing poor results and running down faster
  • Low water pressure from clogged drains and pipes

How Much Is Your Hard Water Costing You?

Remember that time you blamed continuously spotty dishes on an old dishwasher then splurged on a top-of-the-line appliance only to get the same results? Hard water may be costing you in more ways than one — learn the hard truth and then find a lasting solution.


  • Hard water decreases the efficiency of water heaters, dishwashers and washing machines, causing a need for more cycles and additional water and energy usage
  • Water-using appliances get worn out more quickly causing their lifespans to decrease by 30-50%
  • Mineral buildup increases the need for constant cleaning and purchasing of additional supplies and stronger detergents
  • Run down appliances combined with the effect of hard water your on skin and hair creates an increase in purchases of laundry detergent, household cleaners, and lotions.
  • Hard water uses 29% more energy to heat, skyrocketing electricity payments
  • Plumbing bills loom with potential bursts caused by clogs and extensive mineral backup

Preventing the damaging effects caused by hard water is simpler than you think.

Without water softeners these minerals stay in the water you use every day, causing damaging effects.

View Our Water Softening System Selection

How Water Softeners Work

Water softeners are the key to cleaner dishes, brighter clothes, lower energy bills and a healthier family — especially in places with critical hard water problems. Investing in a water softener makes life easier with minimal work needed from a homeowner.

Water softeners should be installed on a water pipeline before the water heater. After installation, the water softener will do the work for you — simply monitor salt level every 2-3 months.

The water softening process

  • Once installed, hard water enters the resin tank and flows through resin beads
  • Water circulates in the tank where tiny resin beads swap minerals in the water for the tiny sodium ions they’re holding
  • This iron exchange results in soft water that can then enter the home
  • When the resin beads have maximized their ability to hold the minerals they need to go through regeneration

The regeneration process

Minerals can not just build up in your water softener tank forever. An automated system is in place to start the regeneration process and flush minerals down a drain.

  • Resin beads are “washed” with a highly concentrated brine solution it creates from the salt tank
  • The brine solution forces the minerals out of the resin beads and replaces them with the sodium ions
  • Once the resin beads have been recharged, the brine solution along with the minerals are flushed from the softener down the drain

Water softeners are built to time the regeneration process without your aid. Depending on your machine, the process will occur in one of two different ways.

Older machines - A set timer on a predetermined schedule (i.e. every 3 days at 11pm) to regenerate no matter if the resin beads actually need it or not.

Newer machines - \tA computerized sensor monitors bead depletion and other metrics based on water use to regenerate only when needed. These demand-initiated regeneration softeners are ideal for saving money and energy by using less water and salt.

When to Refill a Water Softener

Generally homeowners should open the lid of their brine tank and check for a salt refill every 2-3 months. Water softeners will do the bulk of the work for you, but it’s important for you to maintain the salt levels so the machine can work properly. When a refill is needed it’s important to purchase high-quality salt pellets and fill your tank no more than half full to avoid salt bridging.

Key signs a tank is in need of a refill:

  • The salt appears overly wet or dry
  • The tank is less than half full of salt
  • Water has started to build up
  • A salt bridge has started to form
  • Salt is sitting at the same level as the last checkup

What to keep in mind:

  • Machine age: The older the machine, the more often you must refill because older machines are not as efficient as newer models
  • Level of hard water: The harder the water in your area, the more often you must check and refill your tank
  • Size of the tank: Naturally, the smaller the tank the more often you will have to refill it

Find a water softener to improve the quality of your family’s life and reduce the effects of hard water on your home. Enjoy better tasting water, noticeable cost savings and superior energy efficiency every day.

View Our Water Softening System Selection