Hard water refers to water that has a high content of dissolved minerals. The most common minerals dissolved in water are positive ions (cations) of calcium and magnesium although a number of other metals may be present in small amounts.
Water hardness is not a black and white issue. Hardness covers a wide range of possibilities. Hardness is commonly measured in grains* per gallon (gr/g) or milligrams per liter (mg/L). To convert from gr/g to mg/L multiply by 17.11. The U.S. geological survey calls 60 mg/L or less soft water.(That is about 3 ½ grains.) Hard or very hard water is anything above 120 mg/L. In between those levels is moderately hard water. Most of the U.S. has water in the moderate, hard or very hard ranges.
There is some evidence that hard water is good for our health due to the extra minerals we get from drinking it. But hard water is definitely not good for the health of our cleaning equipment.
As water gets hotter, it can not hold as much calcium. So, the calcium precipitates out of the water in the form of calcium carbonate. This crud coats the inside of any pipe, hose or part the water flows through. This coating is especially harmful to heat exchangers because the coating acts like an insulation that slows down heat transfer. You will now require more fuel and more time to keep your water hot. At current fuel prices, you don’t want that additional expense!
The calcium carbonate coating is like making your hoses narrower. If you don’t descale on a regular basis, flow rates will drop, hoses and other parts can even fail completely if the build-up remains excessive. One TM manufacturer demands a water softener for their warranty to be effective.
Detergents are less effective in hot water. Soft water offers a significant savings on chemical usage while leaving less residue. This is another potential savings for soft water users. Your clients will also appreciate the benefits. With increasing awareness of the amount of chemicals coming into our homes and the trend toward “green” this is an advantage you can market.
One home water softener manufacturer promotes a study by Purdue University** stating that fabrics washed in hard water tend to wear out 15% sooner compared to those cleaned in soft water. We don’t know if these numbers hold true for to carpet cleaning, but it can’t hurt and likely extends carpet life to clean with soft water.
By Scott Warrington
Interlink Supply / Bridgepoint Systems
* The “grains” used to measure hard water is a weight equal to 0.0648 gram. It takes 437.5 grains to make one ounce. This is the same grain used to measure specific humidity.
** From “Benefits of Using Soft vs. Hard Water in Laundering Operations” published by Water Quality Research Council, Purdue University.