News Feature | May 17, 2016

‘Hard' Tap Water Kills Appliances In Ohio

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,
@sarmje

faucet.reg

Tap water in an Ohio town appears to be killing appliances and leaving a filmy residue on dishes.

Residents in the Village of Lithopolis in Fairfield County have found “crud caked on sinks, white film covering kitchen utensils and corroded and cracked heating elements for hot water tanks,” according to WSYX.

One resident said she had to replace “two burnt out heating elements in just a couple of years. Also, sediment builds up regularly on the sink, refrigerator's water dispenser and the coffee pot,” the report said.

The village says it is providing clean water, and argues that builders may be buying cheap appliances, according to the news report.  

"You can't buy a Ford and expect it to drive like a Cadillac," Village Administrator Ed VanVickle said, per the report.

Testing by the news organization showed the water appears to be hard, including high levels of calcium. The U.S. Geological Survey describes the problem: “Hardness is caused by compounds of calcium and magnesium, and by a variety of other metals. General guidelines for classification of waters are: 0 to 60 mg/L (milligrams per liter) as calcium carbonate is classified as soft; 61 to 120 mg/L as moderately hard; 121 to 180 mg/L as hard; and more than 180 mg/L as very hard.”

Hard water is not just a problem for homeowners. It can complicate functioning during water treatment processes, as well.

“Water with a high level of total dissolved solids can reduce the life of reverse osmosis (RO) membranes. Dissolved solids consist of microorganisms such as viruses, protists and bacteria, as well as chemicals contained in hard water,” the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported.

Utilities often use chemical treatment and ultraviolet light to add extra safety when membranes degrade, according to the report.

In Lithopolis, the water utility acknowledged that it has been confronting some challenges.

"We use large tanks to soften our water for the residents," Mayor Ted Simon said. "At some point one of the valves was sticking."

And when a filter line busted over the winter, the utility pumped hard water for over a month, according to the report.

“Simon insists everything is now operational and in compliance. If the water is softened too much, it would cost more and could eat away at the pipes. For now, homeowners may see some calcium build-up,” the report said.

There are some actions homeowners can take. The news report recommended “flushing hot water tanks at least twice a year to prevent sediment build-up. Additionally, turn down the temperature to keep scaling and film to a minimum. Consider getting a water purification system for drinking and cooking or put in a home water softener. Prices can range from $800 to $5,000,” the WSYX report said.

For similar stories visit Water Online’s Water Membranes Solutions Center.

Image credit: "Running tap water," Joe Pell © 2007, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/