Unfortunately, many areas in the United States contain excessive amounts of minerals that cause water to become “hard.” Water is normally classified as “hard” if there is a significant amount of calcium and magnesium, sometimes expressed as calcium carbonate. The more calcium and magnesium you have, the “harder” the water is.

These minerals normally enter the water supply through soil, sediment, rocks and minerals. Other minerals can contribute to water hardness, but they tend to show up in insignificant quantities.

Mineral Hardness in Alabama Groundwater


Water hardness was ranked as one of the most common water quality problems in Alabama. While water hardness ranges from soft to very hard in Alabama, the Birmingham area tends to have hard to very hard water (Alabama Cooperative Extension System). If you’re from the Birmingham, AL area, you’re probably already familiar with hard water and its effects on your body, clothes, dishes, and plumbing system.

Hard water can cause mineral spots and staining, scale buildup in pipes and appliances, and decreased effectiveness of soaps and detergents.

After you discover a hard water problem, you basically have two options: only drink bottled water (highly inadvisable) or install some sort of water treatment device.

Is Hard Water Dangerous?

Drinking “hard water” is not bad for you. In fact, the calcium and magnesium can be said to contribute toward a healthy diet. While hard water is not “unhealthy,” it is definitely a nuisance. Hard-water rings around tubs, soap scum, and harmful mineral buildup in appliances are just some of the associated issues.

On the other hand, adding more sodium to your water can cause potential health problems for those limiting their salt intake. One way to get around to is by connecting the water softener to the hot water supply line only. You can also connect separate water dispensers or use a different mineral, such as potassium.

With that said, hard water is often tainted with other contaminants, such as chemicals, rust, chlorine, and lead. Even if you don’t think your home has hard water problems, we highly recommend professionally testing your water supply.

Test Your Water

Before you invest in a water treatment system, it’s a good idea to find out exactly what kind of problems or contaminants you have in your water supply. This will help when shopping for water softeners and water filtration attachments.

Once you receive the test results, you’ll have a much better idea about the quality of your water supply. If the results say you have hard water, we highly recommend contacting a professional for a whole-home water softener system.

When to Consider a Water Softener – Hard Water Signs and Symptoms

1. Skin and hair problems

If you have hard water, your skin and hair may still have some soap scum and lime scale deposits from the last time you bathed. This can clog pores and contribute to skin conditions and irritation.

Also, your hair may appear dull and feel dry. Soft water adds natural shine and softness to your hair, making it easier to manage. Additionally, the calcium and magnesium in the water can gather around your hair follicles, potentially worsening hair loss.

If you already have skin and hair problems, hard water will only make it worse.

2. Mineral deposits and spotting

The minerals in hard water will start to leave an accumulation of calcium deposits along the inside of pipes and around fixtures. Although this is rarely sufficient to close off a pipe entirely, it will markedly reduce the volume available for the water, and result in a spike in water pressure. High water pressure will cause leaks throughout your plumbing and can damage appliances.

Tired of removing mineral stains? Excessive minerals cause spotting and rusting around fixtures, appliances, drains, and dishes. By removing the minerals that cause the white spots and other discoloration, you will enjoy better-looking, longer-lasting fixtures and appliances.

3. Water heater and appliance damage

When the hard water inside the water tank interacts with the high heat, some minerals stick behind and cause scale buildup on the sides of the tank wall. This crusty scale can also build up inside pipes, fixtures, and other appliances.

Inside the water heater’s tank, the high temperature will remove the minerals from hard water and turn them into limescale that will gather on the tank wall. Limescale is an insulator, and its presence will change the temperature balance in the tank, leading to it overheating.

4. Clogged faucets and showerheads

Mineral deposits on showerheads and faucets will restrict water, leading to uneven sprays and even complete blockages.

5. No more suds

The mineral content of hard water makes it difficult to work up a lather with soap. You will find it harder to clean and bathe with hard water restricting the amount suds you can make.

6. Difficulty cooking and washing dishes

Hard water can produce spotting and scale on pots, pans, and other kitchenware. Additionally, hard water can make food cooked in water lose color and flavor. Some vegetables could become tough and shriveled.

What is a Water Softener?

A water softener releases sodium ions into the incoming water supply to counteract the mineral ions of hard water. These incoming ions will interact with a eliminate the hard water minerals, all without having to introduce harmful chemicals.

A water softener counteracts all the above problems and balances your water so that it’s safe for your plumbing. The way it does this is to release sodium ions into the incoming water supply; sodium ions counteract the ions of the minerals in hard water and eliminate them, all without needing to place any chemicals into the water.

The professional plumbers at OnTime Service will be able to find the right water softener system for you and your household. For instance, some homes will benefit from a reverse osmosis system that works in tandem with a water softener. Other times, all you need is a water filtration or softening system, not both.

Contact a professional plumber to test your water supply and recommend the right water treatment system for you.


OnTime Service has been faithfully serving homeowners for more than 40 years. Schedule Service today to ensure healthy water for you and your plumbing system.