Angie's List: Hard Water

There are several options when looking to buy water softeners.

INDIANAPOLIS - You're not alone if, after washing your dishes or running them through the dishwasher, you still find spots.

For Nathan LaGrange, his family saw other negative effects.

"It's just really hard and our clothes were pretty dull and it's hard to lather up and all kinds of stuff like that. So listening to my wife and my girl go 'My hair! My hair!' So yeah, we needed one. We have an old house, too, so all the pipes in it were getting corroded and stuff like that, because of all the hard water," LaGrange said.

LaGrange is not alone. Eighty-five percent of US homes have problems with hard water.

"Hard water is water that is over one grain of hardness. It's high in mineral content, specifically, those metals would be calcium and magnesium. They are considered to be hard minerals, because, specifically, when they are heated, they precipitate out and form a hard scale," said Mark Timmons, US Water Systems.

That hard scale can clog your pipes and lead to leaks. It also reduces the lifespan of water-using appliances, like your water heater. It may be time to have your water analyzed by a water conditioning company.

"You can also get an analysis from your local water utility or health department and both of those organizations don't have a vested interest in the outcome," said Angie Hicks of Angie's List.

And they'll tell you if it's time to get a new water softener. The cost is anywhere between $400-1,500 and now, they're more user-friendly.

"Now, they are almost fully electronic. They measure the amount of water that you use and they only regenerate or recharge when they need to, based on the actual water usage. So, they are very salt efficient these days. They may use 50-75 percent less salt than they used to," Timmons said.

Here are some tips before you buy a new water softener:

  • Test your water first, to make sure you have hard water.
  • You can either buy or rent the equipment for a small monthly fee.
  • Investigate the product and the company supplying it and that the installation company is certified.
  • Once you have it, don't forget to maintain it with adequate salt.