From hard water damaging pipes to water softeners and RO systems, this episode of The Ask Johnny D Show covers quite a few water-related topics.
We hope you find the information useful! And remember, if you have your own home services questions, just click to the Ask Johnny D page.
A few highlights:
Are water softeners are a good idea? Absolutely. Hard water can damage your faucets. You can develop issues with hard water buildup on showers, shower doors, on the ends of faucets.
How good is RO system water? It would be comparable to good bottled water – and in some cases, better than bottled water.
Do I need to service my RO system? Of course. RO Systems definitely require maintenance. Normally, you’re going to be replacing filters every six months to a year.
How would I know if I had high water pressure? Without testing it, it would hard to say. A lot of times, customers will call when they do have high water pressure and you get complaints of the force of the water coming out of faucets. You can get pipes where they rattle or bang when you’re turning the water on. If you’re noticing that, it may be an indication of high water pressure.
What is an ideal water pressure level? Where I live (in Fountain Hills) it’s not uncommon to see water pressure in excess of 125 pounds. What we want to see is pressure below 80 pounds, and typically, somewhere between 50 and 60 pounds is ideal.
Steve: My guest today, as always, not surprisingly, it’s Johnny – Johnny D. Dargavel. You are the expert in what we call home services. Let’s talk about the challenges that home services can give the average homeowner.
I moved to Phoenix about three years ago and the first thing I noticed, I guess, like everybody who lives here is hard water. So Phoenix has hard water. What does that do to my pipes, and should I be looking at a water softener?
Johnny: Water softeners are a good idea. That’s what you typically see on the end of a kitchen faucet or a lavatory faucet where it looks like minerals on the end of the faucet or growing on the tip of the faucet where the water comes out.
That’s typically calcium. When we talk about hard water, that’s calcium that’s in the water. So a water softener will remove calcium and replace it with sodium or potassium. That’s when we talk about soft water, so we’re removing the calcium out of the water.
Steve: I don’t know; my pipes are maybe 30 or 40 years old. I’ve had hard water running through those pipes, through those faucets for that long. If I put a water softener in now is that going to gradually undo the damage, or has it been going on too long, if you like?
Johnny: It can help with installing a water softener. It’s about the quality of the water coming out of the faucet. Damage that’s occurred before that, it’s hard to say how relevant that would be. It’s a matter of the water that comes out of the faucet and what it does today in my opinion. What’s happened for 20 years isn’t going to make that much difference. To me, it’s a matter of taking the water that comes out of the faucet today and making it better and the effects of that water moving forward.
Steve: Right. A company like Isley can do a pipe inspection for me, can they?
Johnny: For sure. It’s a matter of assessing what you have and whether the hard water has affected your pipes in general. It’s more so that we’re dealing with the quality of water that’s coming out of the faucets and the damage that it does, like I said, to your shower doors, to your internal parts of the faucets. So it’s a matter of making it the best of it can be
Steve: So you’re absolutely treating the cause here rather than just replacing the shower door, which would be treating the symptom.
Johnny: It’s definitely a problem to be worried about, but in most cases when we have freezing pipes, that occurs if someone has ran a pipe across a roof, across the external part of the building or a house. We don’t get cold weather here very often, but when we do, when it gets down below freezing that’s a concern. So the only recommendation is if you have external pipes is to insulate those or if there’s a way to turn that water off to those pipes on a cold evening or night is to turn that water off so that doesn’t occur.
Steve: What about from a drinking water perspective? It’s not just water softening, right? Is this where we get into what you called a RO System.
Johnny: An RO System is for drinking water that can go to your refrigerator. It normally goes to a separate spout that’s on your kitchen faucet. But, it’s a water filtration for drinking water itself.
Steve: Now, is that something I have to change out? I have a little system under my sink right now. It has these cartridges in it, and I have to change them out every two or three months or something. Or does this thing only need a minimum bit of maintenance?
Johnny: RO Systems definitely require maintenance. Normally, you’re going to be replacing filters in it normally every six months to a year. It really depends upon how often and how much water that you run through the RO System.
There are tests that we can run on the water to see what condition the water’s in, but we normally recommend on a minimum to change the filters once a year. The membrane itself in the RO, if the filters are maintained properly, the membrane only needs to be changed maybe once every three to five years.
Steve: What comes out of that is essentially purified drinking water, right? It’s like having Dasani on tap or similar?
Johnny: It would be comparable to good bottled water – and in some cases, better than bottled water. What would come out of the faucet would be purified drinking water that’s been forced through an RO membrane.
Steve: Let’s talk about flow. I know that something that psychologists like to talk about, but we’re going to talk about it from a water perspective – water pressure, water flow. This is something I get quite a lot. When your flow isn’t as strong as you think it should be, like from a shower head or something, what’s that all about and what do we do about that?
Johnny: Well, there’s a lot to that. Out of a shower head, it can be for several different reasons. Shower heads do build up, especially if you don’t have a water softener. You can get calcium that will build up or particles that will get caught inside of a shower head. Typically, in a shower head, you have a filter or a screen that’s inside of the shower head itself. So sometimes if the shower head stops having proper flow, it requires removing the shower head and cleaning the shower head.
Steve: Is there a pressure that comes into the house that could be low? Or is that somehow tested by the city and everybody has the same pressure coming in and then it’s just your internal system that might be reducing the flow?
Johnny: That’s a good question also. The flow into the house is regulated by the city and the city produces pressure to the home. If you’re having issues out of one faucet – meaning, say, if you had a shower head that you were getting poor flow but the other shower heads or other faucets in the house work fine – then most likely your problem is in that one shower head, and you would want to look at that shower head to determine what the problem is.
But if we get into low water pressure or high water pressure to a home, that needs to be tested at the water entry of the home and can be tested with a pressure gauge to determine what pressure is coming into the home.
In most cases, we’re concerned with too high a pressure. Too low a pressure is another issue, but too high a pressure is a bigger issue, so we want to test the water pressure into the home and determine if a pressure regulator may be necessary on the home, which is a device that would give you a constant water pressure into the home with a pressure-regulating device.
Steve: Interesting. How would I know if I had high water pressure? Is it coming out the faucets at 100 miles an hour or what?
Johnny: Without testing it, it would hard to say. A lot of times, customers will call when they do have high water pressure and you get complaints of the force of the water coming out of faucets, that it’s extremely fast. You can get pipes where they rattle or bang when you’re turning the water on. If you’re noticing that, it may be an indication of high water pressure. The best way to test it is with a pressure gauge and hooking it to a hose bibb at the entry of the house to determine where your pressure is.
Where I live, I’m up in Fountain Hills and it’s not uncommon to see water pressure in excess of 125 pounds. What we want to see is pressure below 80 pounds, and typically, somewhere between 50 and 60 pounds would be where we would want to set that for the water pressure into the home.
Steve: Okay. That’s something to look out for, then. And, I guess, you guys can test that, right?
Johnny: For sure. Or they sell pressure gauges at most of the home stores, hardware stores, that you could be very easily set up and that you just connect to a hose bibb on the front of house to determine what your pressure is.