Most Americans think of water as basically “wet” and don’t consider its other attributes. But many residential water users have had to confront one of water's less-appealing characteristics: hardness. Water hardness is a measurement of the concentration of minerals—primarily calcium and magnesium, along with traces of other metals—that are naturally dissolved in drinking water. Using hard water can negatively impact a number of everyday activities, including showering, doing laundry, and washing dishes. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, there is quite a bit of variation in the mineral content of drinking water supplies across the United States. The agency found the softest waters in parts of New England, the South Atlantic-Gulf States, the Pacific Northwest, and Hawaii, while the hardest were measured in "streams in Texas, New Mexico, Kansas, Arizona, and southern California.” But no matter what part of the country you live in, hard water can become an issue. Its effects can, however, be mitigated by installing a water softener, which removes the dissolved minerals, typically by exchanging the calcium and magnesium ions with sodium or potassium ions. Is your water too hard? Here are just a few of the tell-tale signs that you may need a water softener.
Q: Every time I open the fridge, I get a whiff of sourness that I can’t identify. I’ve already cleaned out all the ol...
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