"Hard" water has been causing Cindy and Tommy Jackson's dishwasher to malfunction, and other neighbors in Five Oaks say they are having problems with hot water heaters and showers clogging up, too.
"It appears we needlessly replaced a dishwasher," Cindy said. "The new $900 one isn't doing any better."
But she said her real concern is finding out where she and other Five Oaks residents can get more information about dealing with their "hard" water problems.
Joe Hardin, general manager of Laguardo Utilities headquartered on Woods Ferry Road, said the customers' complaints started in July when the utility started pumping most of its own water.
"We've been a purchased-water utility since 1979," Hardin said. But now Laguardo is starting to pump most of the water it sells from two wells at their new 2 million gallons-per-day water treatment plant.
These two wells draw "hard" water from underground reservoirs - water that's heavy or rich in mineral content, depending on your point of view.
Change began last summer
"We just started switching over in July and plan for the whole system to change over," Hardin said.
He also explained that the "hardness" of water is not regulated by either the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or by Tennessee Water Resource Standards.
"Our water meets or exceeds all the water resource standards," he said.
And "hard" water may be good for you, Hardin pointed out. It's water that contains calcium and magnesium, minerals which some people take as supplements to fight or prevent problems like osteoarthritis.
"As drinking water, it actually tastes better because it has calcium and magnesium," he pointed out. "And it's what our bones are made of."
However, calcium can cause problems in hot water, Hardin said. "Calcium starts to precipitate at 136 degrees," he said. "At 145 degrees, it falls out and creates sediment in the bottom of your water heater."
At those temperatures, the calcium also causes spots on glasses and dishes in the dishwasher.
'Turn down water temp'
Despite these problems, Hardin said there are some easy steps you can take to solve them. "First, lower the temperature on your water heater to 125 degrees," he said. "That will not only keep the calcium from precipitating, it will save you money."
He also advises customers to drain and clean their water heater once a year. "Ours isn't the only 'hard' water in Middle Tennessee," he said. "Some companies have even 'harder' water."
As for the spots on dishes, Hardin says he would recommend a product called Lemi Shine. It comes in three different products - one to clean the dishwasher and two to wash the dishes - and it's sold at Kroger, Publix and Walmart, he added.
He also said that there are filters you can have installed in your hot water lines to filter out the calcium if needed.
'Enjoy the taste'
But Hardin suggested customers not filter their cold water since it isn't affected by the calcium the same way. It just makes the water taste sweeter and adds calcium to the diet, he said.
If customers have more questions about their water, Hardin said they can call him at 444-3378 or contact Travis Owen, the chief operator at the Laguardo Utility District water plant. Owen's number is 547-6588.
A Facebook page has been created for customers to document their problems. Visit https://www.facebook.com/laguardowaterproblems to post and read.
Writer Connie Esh may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.