How does hard water in Albuquerque impact your home?

You’ve no doubt heard your friends, neighbors, and family members all talk about the water quality here in Albuquerque. One of the most common subjects that gets brought up is the relative hardness of the water here in Duke City. In this article, we’ll review some of the impacts of hard water in Albuquerque and what you can do to soften the water in your home and protect your pipes and appliances.

What is hard water?

Hard water is water with a higher mineral content—calcium and magnesium are the two most common minerals—than other sources of water. Water hardness is measured in parts-per-million—even the mineral content of hard water is relatively low.

The hard water in Albuquerque can cause water deposit buildup on your faucets, fixtures, and shower heads.Measuring hard water

Most homeowners tend to think of “soft water” and “hard water” as two absolutes: in other words, water is either one or the other. This isn’t actually the case. Water hardness is actually a sliding scale, with a majority of American homes falling somewhere on the spectrum between “soft” and “very hard.”

Sources of hard water

Generally, cities and areas that draw water from groundwater tend to have more problems with hard water than those that get their water from surface sources, such as rivers and lakes. This is because groundwater—which constantly moves through rocks deep underground—has a higher mineral content than surface water.

Hard water and your health

Contrary to myths and urban legends, hard water is not bad for your health. In fact, as a minor source of calcium and magnesium—two nutrients your body needs—hard water is a net benefit. Many homeowners in blind taste-tests also prefer the taste of hard water.

Hard water in Albuquerque

According to data from USGS, the water in the Albuquerque metro area is rated as “hard.” Our groundwater sources are rated as “very hard.”

Hard water and your appliances

It’s when hard water and heat meet that things start to go wrong for your home. Heating hot water can lead to the formation of calcium carbonate, a solid, chalky buildup also known as “scaling.” Scaling is a big threat to your appliances since it has the potential to clog water lines and add additional wear-and-tear to the appliance. Let’s review the impact of hard water on three common home appliances:

  • Dishwasher: Hard water can be rough on your dishwasher, as the additional mineral content wears down the inside, interior components, and racks of the dishwasher. Hard water also leads to spotting and film buildup on glasses.
  • Washing Machine: Just like in your dishwasher, hard water is rough on the interior tub itself. However, there’s an additional effect: the minerals in hard water can more quickly leech the texture and color out of your clothes, causing them to fade faster and become worn thin faster.
  • Water Heater: This is where homeowners most often experience problems with hard water. The constant combination of hard water and heat in your water heater tank means calcium carbonate can build up through the years, even to the point where it reduces the tank capacity.

Hard water and your pipes

Everything that’s true for your home’s appliances also applies to your pipes. Here, the scaling effect caused by hard water flowing through your pipes day-after-day, month-after-month, and year-after-year can cause major problems. Calcium carbonate that forms on the interior of the pipes begins to restrict the flow of water through the pipe, which in turn increases the water pressure. This added pressure put additional stress on the rest of your home’s pipes, appliances, faucets, and shower heads.

If the pipes can’t handle the pressure, you’re looking at the potential for a pipe burst. The alternative isn’t much better: if the scaling builds up enough, it’ll block water from moving through the pipe altogether. At this juncture, you’re looking at a re-piping project for your home.

Consider a water softener

The water that comes out of the tap might be hard here in Albuquerque, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about hard water in your home. By having the plumbers at Wagner install a whole-home water softener, you can remove the hardness from your home’s water supply. The benefits of this include:

  • Reduced damage to your pipes and appliances
  • Reduced damage to your dishes and clothes
  • Less soap and detergent use
  • Better water heater efficiency

If you’re concerned about the impact of hard water on your home, give us a call here at Wagner and ask about our lineup of effective water softeners from Krystal Klear. These are some of the best residential water softeners available, and we’re proud to install them in Albuquerque homes. Call us to learn more!

Here’s how you can lower your summer electric bills in Albuquerque

What do you associate with summer? For many, summers in Albuquerque mean sunshine, hiking, golf, baseball, and outdoor adventures with the family. For far too many, however, there’s a reason to dread summer: high summer electric bills. If you’re one of these homeowners who is not looking forward to opening your utility bill this month, keep reading: in this article, we’re going to discuss some of the causes of high electric bills and some straightforward ways you can reduce your home’s energy use and save money.

Changing your thermostat by 1-2 degrees can help lower your summer electric bills here in Albuquerque.

Changing your thermostat by even just 1-2 degrees can help lower your summer electric bills here in Albuquerque.

Keep your AC in good, working order

If your electric bills have been on the rise, your HVAC systems are probably to blame. For most homes, cooling and heating makes up the largest portion of residential energy use—sometimes, even more than 50% of all the electricity used in the home is spent making it cool or warm. This means that the best way to lower your summer energy bills is by making your air conditioner and home more energy-efficient.

What causes inefficiency?

As air conditioners get older, they often don’t work as well as they once did. This problem typically manifests itself on two fronts: first, the AC unit is more likely to break down and need repairs, especially after heavy use during the summer. Second—and of consequence for your energy bills—older air conditioners just aren’t as energy-efficient as they used to be.

When you compare them to a new model, they’re not only old—all the wear-and-tear of multiple hot summers adds up—but they’re also obsolete, in that new systems on the market today are more efficient than ever.

Improve your cooling efficiency

What can you do about this? You’ll probably want to start by scheduling a checkup with our team on an annual basis. Maintenance is one of the best ways to get the most of any air conditioner, new or old, and can give your system’s efficiency a much-needed lift.

However, if you’re getting hit with the combo of high electric bills and frequent breakdowns this summer, you should also explore replacing your older air conditioner with a new system. Wagner installs new, energy-efficient Daikin air conditioners and heat pumps here in Albuquerque. If you really want to put a serious dent in your home’s energy waste and trim those bills, a new Daikin will do the trick.

Add insulation

On the hottest days of summer here in Albuquerque, your air conditioner works hard to cool your home. It’s actually fighting an uphill battle: not only does it need to cool down your hot home, but it also has to replace the cooled air that is being lost through your ductwork, into your attic, and through the roof. This same process is even worse for your energy-efficiency in the winter since heat naturally rises. Without anything to stop it, heat energy will rise right out of your home.

There are two ways to cut down on this energy waste: adding insulation or have a professional seal your home’s air ducts. Let’s start with insulation. Most homes here in Albuquerque have some degree of insulation, but could use more. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, northern New Mexico is located in Zone 5, which means homes here need to add R38-R49 rated insulation to an existing layer of insulation, and R49-R60 insulation to an uninsulated attic.

Additional insulation helps trap both cold (summer) and hot (winter) air in the living spaces of your home, keeping it from escaping through your roof. That, in turn, means that your HVAC systems don’t have to work as hard or as long, which both cuts down on wear-and-tear and helps lower your summer electric bills. That’s a win-win in our book.

Have your ducts sealed

Traditional HVAC systems send cooled aor heated air through the air ducts of your home and through vents to your living spaces. However, air is actually a pretty poor conduit for energy. This means that much of this cooled or heated air is being lost before it even gets to the vents. This is especially true in homes with leaky ductwork. Cooled or heated air quickly finds places to escape in tiny pinholes, cracks, or other gaps in the ducts. All-in-all, these leaks can mean that up to 20% of the output of your air conditioner is being wasted. That adds up to higher energy bills.

One of the reasons our team offers duct sealing services here in Albuquerque is because we know how much money this can save homeowners for years to come. We use specialized equipment to find leaks in your ductwork and then permanently patch them, so that the air leak is no more. No matter how new or old your home is, duct sealing can make a big difference in how much energy your home uses on a monthly basis, especially in the summer.

Make other improvements to lower your bills

Beyond making improvements to your air conditioner, insulation, and ducts, there’s many other things that homeowners can do to cut their energy bills:

  • Turn it up: Just increasing your home’s temperature by 1-2 degrees at the thermostat can yield major savings. Consider upgrading to a programmable thermostat that allows you to schedule these temperature changes.
  • Use your fans: Using ceiling and floor fans won’t actually cool down the temperature of the room, but it will make you feel a lot colder. This allows you to keep the thermostat higher and avoid paying to cool parts of your home that you’re not in at the moment.
  • Salad for dinner: Avoid using heat-generating appliances such as the oven or stove during the hottest parts of the day. Prepare more meals for the family using a crock-pot, or make cold dinners, such as salads and sandwiches.

Talk to our energy-saving experts here in Albuquerque

At Wagner, we love helping local homeowners find ways to save energy and get more out of their home’s air conditioner—including comfort. Contact us today to see how we can help you with your air conditioning, insulation, and duct seal needs.