Hard water is a common inconvenience, most often experienced with private wells but occasionally found in city or county municipal water supplies. The difference between hard and soft water is the amount of dissolved minerals present in it. Hard water is the result of soft precipitation — rain — seeping into the ground and absorbing minerals — chalk, magnesium, iron, calcium and lime — before it reaches the aquifer. Treating hard water requires removing the calcium, magnesium and iron and replacing them with salt ions to soften the water. Now that you know the difference between hard and soft water, here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of both water types and how they are treated.

Hard water


  • Due to the essential minerals present in hard water, it is considered beneficial as a drinking water.
  • It tastes good and contains lower amounts of sodium than soft water.


  • It leads to yellowed or dingy-looking laundry that loses its life more quickly.
  • Bathtubs, toilets, sinks and fixtures experience a buildup of scale, iron deposits and soap scum.
  • Dishes develop hard water spots when drying.
  • It requires increased use of laundry detergent and soap.
  • Harder-working appliances lead to increased energy consumption.
  • Hair may feel heavy or sticky after shampooing.
  • Your appliances may require more frequent repairs.
  • Scale and sediment build up in your water heater, decreasing its efficiency.
  • Rusted or obstructed plumbing pipes require additional maintenance or repair.

Soft water


  • It requires less soap and detergent, as it lathers more efficiently and requires less water to rinse the soap away.
  • Laundry is brighter and has a longer life span.
  • Dishes turn out cleaner and with fewer water spots.
  • Appliances don’t have to work as hard, prolonging their life span.


  • It contains a higher amount of sodium than hard water.
  • Folks with heart, circulatory or high-blood-pressure ailments are advised not to drink it.
  • Softening water requires the added expense of a water softener and salt.

There are several water softeners on the market designed to treat water for hardness. Before you consider installing a water softener, you should consult with a professional to determine the type of water-softening equipment you need. There are also several systems available that reduce the amount of sodium present in treated or softened water. These include reverse osmosis, distillation and deionization systems that can work together with traditional water-softening equipment.

McDonough homeowners seeking additional information or service regarding water treatment options can contact Delta The Educated Plumber. Delta Plumbing proudly serves customers of the greater Atlanta metro area.

The difference between hard and soft water, and how it affects your plumbing