What is Hard Water and How Do You Fix It?

by Jess 29. June 2016 10:48


Hard water is water that contains dissolved solids such as calcium and magnesium. The reason that hard water can become an issue is that it can cause scale deposits, or mineral deposits, in pipes, water heaters, on bathroom fixtures, and even on your pots and pans. Fun fact: the term “hard water” actually originally referred to the fact that it was hard to wash in. Soap doesn’t lather well in it.

Some other things you might notice if your home has hard water are:

  • Itchy / Dry Skin
  • Dingy laundry
  • Dry / unmanageable hair
  • A bad taste and / or smell
  • Cloudiness in your water

No one wants to deal with all of that, so what can you do?

Well, if you’re concerned about your home water quality, you have some options; water treatment, for one. You can actually purchase a water softener. In addition to the cost of purchasing the water softener though, there are a couple of things to consider. According to Consumer Reports, for every 1,000 gallons of water processed, you’ll consume 15-120 additional gallons of water. If nothing else, you’ll see that on your water bill. You’ll also see a bump on your electric bill, due to the cost of running the softening unit.

If all that seems like a little too much, you can try treating the symptoms rather than the problem. For instance, white vinegar can help to remove build-up on surfaces and dishes. It can also be used to descale your coffee maker or dishwasher. You can buy soaps and shampoos that are formulated for use with hard water. An occasional rinse with an apple cider vinegar solution can help to reduce the build-up of products in your hair that may still occur. Check your laundry detergent for special instructions for use with hard water. And, finally, check your water heater’s owner’s manual for instructions on flushing it.

Hard water isn’t all bad though! There is some evidence that drinking hard water can actually reduce your risk for osteoporosis because of the calcium in the water. There was also a 2004 study in Finland that suggests that the minerals in hard water may reduce your risk of heart disease.

Even if those things are true though, it is probably ultimately better to take steps to mitigate the effects that hard water has on your home. You can descale your coffee maker all day long, but there isn’t much you can do about the deposits that build up in your pipes. That is a much costlier fix further down the line.



Indoor Air Pollution: Is it Real?

by Jess 1. June 2016 09:08



Typically when we think about air pollution, we think of the air outside. We’ve heard about the various gases and particles created by cars, factories, etc., but did you know that the air inside your home could be polluted too? It’s true. The air you breathe inside your own home could actually be making you and your family sick.

 Indoor Pollutants

Some of the things thatcould be contributing to poor indoor air quality are more obvious than others. These are things like mold, smoke (both tobacco smoke and smoke from poorly vented fireplaces and cook stoves), and pesticides. Some less obvious pollutants are things like asbestos, formaldehyde, and lead that may be present in the building materials of older homes, radon (which enters from outside and can build up inside poorly ventilated homes), carbon monoxide from stoves and furnaces, common household products like cleaners, and VOCs (or volatile organic compounds.)


Causes of Indoor Air Pollution

Generally speaking the causes of indoor air pollution are lack of sufficient ventilation and proper filtration. Without those two things, pollutants like the ones mentioned above can build up and spread throughout an enclosed space like your home.


Risks of Indoor Air Pollution

Indoor air quality can significantly impact your health in both the short and long term. Some symptoms like itchy eyes or throat, headaches and fatigue may affect some people immediately and can be worse if they are particularly sensitive or already ill. In the long term, exposure to indoor air pollutants can cause things as severe as heart disease and cancer. Some research suggests that the effects of some pollutants compound as exposure time increases, so it’s important to tackle the issue sooner than later.



How to Prevent Indoor Air Pollution

The first step to preventing indoor air pollution is to remove the source. This can be done through things like mold remediation, encapsulation or removal of lead and asbestos, use of low VOC products, and even simply adjusting settings on gas appliances to reduce emissions. The next step is to address ventilation issues. Typically, heating and cooling systems don’t pull outside air into your home. That means that if the air in your home is contaminated by pollutants, that air will just remain in your home and be circulated throughout unless you do something about it. This one is actually really simple. When weather permits, open your windows or doors and let fresh air in. Also, use the ventilation fans in your bathrooms and above your stove. This will allow fresh air in and polluted air out, reducing the concentration of pollutants in the air inside your home. The final step is to clean the air. One way of doing this is to invest in an air cleaner. These are small appliances that pull air in, trap contaminants, and release clean air. Another way, is just to make sure you maintain and regularly change the filters in your heating and cooling system. That simple step will reduce the spread of pollutants throughout your home and help to keep everyone inside healthier.



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