Hard water and gray water
I’ve noticed deposits of white, crusty residue around the pipes and plumbing fixtures in my house. Is there a purification system that might solve this problem? And could that same system handle the wastewater from my laundry? I’d like to use this gray water to water my landscaped areas.
Elaine Marie Valadon, St. Clairsville, OH
Rex Cauldwell, a master plumber and electrician in Copper Hill, Virginia, replies: The reason that you have deposits forming on your pipes and fixtures is that you have hard water and need a water-softening system. The deposits you see are caused by a large amount of calcium and magnesium in the water. You can bring a sample of your water to a local water-pump dealer, who will test it and recommend an appropriate water-softening system. The biggest drawback to a water-softening system is that it needs to be back-washed constantly, which sends a tremendous amount of water down the drain. This backwash is salt water and cannot be used for watering plants, unless you are growing kelp.
On the other hand, your laundry water can be used for watering most plants and trees right out of the washing machine if you use a mild detergent without additives. Many people around here claim that watering plants with laundry water actually reduces insect problems. If you plan to use laundry water for irrigation, never use detergents that contain bleach or fabric softeners. Also, never put gray water through a waterconditioning system. It will ruin the system and void the warranty.