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Recent increase in water hardness?

Original post made by wimchatta on Oct 17, 2010

Recently we've been noticing a dramatic increase in hard water stains, have attached an image of a glass from dishwasher adjacent to a glass de-stained with vinegar. Wondering how widespread the prevalence is, hence this post...

Comments (32)

Posted by Chris, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Oct 17, 2010 at 1:36 pm

It looks like you need to join the rest of us who threw in the towel long ago and went with a soft water system.

Posted by us too, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 17, 2010 at 6:46 pm

It tends to wax and wane, but yes, right now is *very* bad - we are having to re-wash most of our dishes as they don't come clean in the dishwasher...we are having a guy out to service our water softener next week and we will hook it up again. I don't like softened water in the shower (it feels slimy to me) but I will suck it up for clean dishes again!

Posted by Yup!, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Oct 17, 2010 at 10:24 pm

We recently noticed the same increase in hard water issues, and had to tweak our water softener system in order to clean our glasses sufficiently. Seems to happen every late summer/early autumn.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 17, 2010 at 11:29 pm

It is not just a problem with the water. Dishwasher detergents are now phosphate free and that makes the problem worse. Pennsylvania democrats passed a bill that requires dishwasher detergent to be phospate free, and 15 states adopted the bill. However, California did NOT. So companies are choosing the cheap way and sell the same phosphate free detergent in all states, rather than make a phosphate free kind for the 15 states that require it and one with phosphate for those state, like California, that do NOT require it.

We had an old box of dishwasher detergent with phosphates. When we washed the dishes with that (same water), no problem, dishes came out clean. The problem is the water combined with phosphate-free detergent.

Call dishwasher detergent companies and complain about it. Why should California suffer for some bill that Pennsylvania passed? California does not require phosphate free detergent, so why should we be forced to use it?

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 17, 2010 at 11:39 pm

Forgot to include a link to an article about the problems with phosphate free dishwasher detergents:

Web Link
Web Link

Again, it is not the water that is causing the stains on the dishes. And not all states have to use phosphate free detergents, but companies are choosing to make one product for all states.

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Oct 18, 2010 at 8:59 am

Stacey is a registered user.

I put a cup filled with a bit of vinegar in the top rack. Works well.

Posted by Lee, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 18, 2010 at 9:17 am

I use a product called Glass Magic every time. Seems to work.

Posted by JS, a resident of Birdland
on Oct 18, 2010 at 9:23 am

We've noticed this as well. After recently spending $300 to fix our dishwasher, we looked into soft water systems. "Kinetico" reps are in our garage right now installing the new system. Their demo regarding hard water - Pleasanton's hard water - is very eye opening. Looking forward to clean dishes, skin & clothes.

Posted by Joe, a resident of Siena
on Oct 18, 2010 at 9:31 am


Regarding hard water in Pleasanton, I see more and more of my neighbors installing a soft water system. I think I'll look into as well. I have a feeling it will be expensive, but the water is so hard that it's difficult to keep the shower clean as well as the water dispenser from the fridge.

Posted by sharon, a resident of Amador Estates
on Oct 18, 2010 at 9:41 am

our water has been worse than usual for a couple of months now. had to replace a 5 year old dishwasher, as the heating element was destroyed from the deposits. even with the new dishwasher, dishes and glasses have been coated with a thick film. tried a couple of different detergents--will try the vinegar idea. it really is frustrating! also clothes coming out of the laundry have an odor to them.

Posted by A KR Resident, a resident of Kottinger Ranch
on Oct 18, 2010 at 10:15 am

I agree with all that the water has changed for the worst recently.
Maybe the water supply company can shed some light on it. Is it Zone 7?
We get our bills from City of Pleasanton. If we all write to the supplier they can tell us what is different.I believe part of our water comes from the mountains and partly from the wells locally. Maybe the mix has been changed recently.

Posted by KC, a resident of Country Fair
on Oct 18, 2010 at 10:34 am

As far as I am concerned, the water in Pleasanton has always been HORRIBLE. we have soft water which does help but its still BAD. AND NO..the dishwasher detergents are not the cause, its the water. wake up! and yes, it has definitely been worse the last couple of months. We got a new dishwasher about a year ago that we absolutely love. Does great in this hard water Pleasanton has and my dishes come out pretty clean and film on them. Does it do any good if we complain to the water dept?

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 18, 2010 at 10:58 am


The water may be part of the problem, but the dishwasher detergent is a big problem. Google it, it is a problem not just in California but in other states as well. Phosphate-free detergent is what causes dirty dishes, the companies have not come up with a good formula without phosphates that also cleans dishes.

Some blogs suggested to use Borax along with the detergent. I did that and the dishes do get clean that way, but the borax seemed to destroy the dispenser for the dishwasher (new dishwasher) - it took quite a few times before the damage was done. Now that we replaced the dispenser, we have been using detergent with phosphate (a friend gave us a few boxes), and our dishes are clean, and we have the same water as the rest of Pleasanton (we do not have a water softener).

Posted by Meghan, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Oct 18, 2010 at 12:08 pm

We run a rinse wash with vinegar in our dishwasher now and then to clean it out, but I've wondered about putting a little in with every wash like you mention, Stacey.... About how much do you put in with each load?

I didn't realize that the phosphates had been taken out of dishwasher soaps and that it was part of the problem. I had just thought it was because of the hard water. I like the natural solution to the problem though. Why should we complain about companies actually doing something that's good for the environment, even if they did only do it because it was better for their bottom line?

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Oct 18, 2010 at 12:49 pm

Stacey is a registered user.


I started doing this because when this topic came up here before, someone else had suggested it. So I tried it and it works well. It helped eliminate most of the build-up of white residue in the dishwasher, which can be rubbed off easily with a finger after a wash. I haven't measured the amount. It is probably about 2 fluid ounces. I put a little Pyrex desert cup in the top rack and fill it about a quarter to a third with white distilled vinegar. When it's done, the cup is full of hot water with some white residue settled at the bottom. I also use the vinegar to descale faucets, showerheads, the water dispenser from the fridge, etc. You have to leave it soak a bit to give the acid time to work into the scale.

Posted by SL, a resident of Ponderosa
on Oct 18, 2010 at 12:55 pm

Any recommendation environmentally friendly and effective water softener systems for Pleasanton?

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Oct 18, 2010 at 12:57 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Another alternative: a friend swears by a gadget like this: Web Link

Posted by artlover, a resident of Birdland
on Oct 18, 2010 at 3:06 pm

Chemical/salt water softeners can not also be good for us....

I remember when we first moved to Pleasanton and receiving this incredible glossy publication from zone 7 about- water! I'm thinking to myself what a WASTE of paper, and resources. Obviously the money wasn't going to alleviate the end of the summer water quality issues. They had glossy brochures to print!

They dug that big well on Santa Rita that was supposed to address this very problem.

Hey Zone 7- what gives?

Posted by Dave, a resident of San Ramon
on Oct 18, 2010 at 7:34 pm

Yes, Zone 7 supplies the water to the City of Livermore, California Water (Livermore's other water department), the City of Pleasanton and DSRSD who supplies water to Dublin and the Dougherty Valley in San Ramon.
On Santa Rita, if you are referring to Santa Rita and Stoneridge, this is not a well, it is a deminerealization plant (not to be confused by a reverse osmosis plant).
For those of you that want to be responsible stewards of the environment, water softeners are not the answer. For example, the City of Dublin once tried to outlaw water softeners, if you call them to ask if it is okay to install one, they are directed to say "yes you can install a softener, but we would prefer a conditioner". A water conditioner does not require the use of sodium or potassium.
Please let it be known: If it is found that a consumer or their contractor illegally discharges the backwash from a water softener, the law has been broken. If the City catches yoou, lucky you. If a fish dies and the department of fish and game catches you, your insurance is going to cancel you when they have to pay out a $40,000 plus fine, I do not know what happens if the EPA catches you.
The backwash discharge has to be legally discharged into your sanitary sewer, the key word here is lagally, there are thousand of illegal connections that, because of the possibility of backflow, could contaminate the home or the neighborhood. For those of you legally discharging into the sanitary sewer, you are costing us all extra money to make reclaimed water...parks and golf courses cannot be watered with salt water, it will needs to be removed from the sewage system in order to reclaim it.
Is there a great water conditioner out there??? I haven't found a great one, they need to be replace about every 10 years (the carbon filter), the pre filters need to be replace every 1-3 months depending on usage. Is that being green? replacing filters all the time?? Its a tough call. I like the vinegar in the dishwasher, thios just does not help with your shower doors or the car washing (which will be outlawed soon because of the copper in our brake pads).
If you have any questions please don't hesitate to call.
Dave Ferguson
(925) 416-0966
Mr. Rooter Plumbing of the Tri-Valley

Posted by Tango, a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Oct 18, 2010 at 11:35 pm

I have lived in Pleasanton for37years and yes the water is hard. We have learned to live with it. I have always called it "chewable water" Our family in Oragon bring gallons of their own well water with them when the visit. There are times when I wish I could run my own pipeline to our Oragon home and ship the water here. Haven't had a problem with dishwasher or laundry machines.

Posted by Meghan, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Oct 19, 2010 at 8:11 am

Thanks, Stacey!

Posted by Member, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Oct 19, 2010 at 8:32 am

I have found that the water problem is worse at certain times of the year. I think we have been in that time of the year for the last few months. I think it is related to when more of the water supply is pumped out of the ground as opposed to water from Sierra runoff. The groundwater has more dissolved solids in it, and that is the problem. People think their dishwasher has worn out, but it is just that the water has so much dissolved solids in it. Those dissolved solids (calcium, etc.) are left on glassware, etc. in dishwashers and on other things in other places.
It does seem to get better again after a few months. I think the problem is least noticeable in the winter and spring.
A dishwasher should be run without dishes every month or so with about half a cup or so of vinegar added as it fills with water, and then let it run a complete cycle. You can run regular glass at the same time, and it will clean them up. But don't run other things like metal that will be harmed by the acid in vinegar.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 19, 2010 at 9:30 am

I would like to try the vinegar in the dishwasher but have concerns.

Is it safe? Ie, does not damage the dishwasher in the long term?

If like some said above, it would damage pots and pans, what does it do to the plumbing?

How much is safe to use but still gets the job done?

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Oct 19, 2010 at 11:44 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Run an experiment and find out. Put vinegar in a metallic bowl and report back how long it takes for the metal to get damaged. Put water in another metallic bowl for control.

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Oct 19, 2010 at 11:45 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Web Link

CaCO3 + 2CH3COOH = Ca (CH3COO)2 + CO2 + H2O

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Oct 19, 2010 at 11:50 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Calcium carbonate makes a great antacid for your tummy.

Posted by Dave, a resident of San Ramon
on Oct 19, 2010 at 12:41 pm

Member, when you state sierra run off, Zone 7's sierra runoff is not directly from the sierra's as ebmud and smud's water, zone 7's sierra runoff is collected from the delta. Interestingly, the well water zone 7's are not 'true' wells, they add water to the underground water supply to save for a not so rainy day. By nature of the water being stored underground is where the hardness comes from.

Posted by SteveP, a resident of Parkside
on Oct 20, 2010 at 9:44 am

SteveP is a registered user.

I installed a Sear's elite water conditioner 2 yearsa go and it jhelped a lot. No more scale and build up around our sinks, fixtures and the marble countertops.
Contrary to what was presumed above, if you use potassium instead of salt, it's actually good for you and your landscaping (if you capture the water). Not every conditioner will allow you to use potassium, so check it out carefuly. You should definitely avoid salt---that's what the Dublin agency was concerned about, not potassium.
It's really too bad we can't tap into EBMUD's water from the Hetch Hetchy reservoir. Now, that's some good water!
And to think, some [removed] wanted to remove the dam there and stop the flow of that pristine water.

Posted by dave, a resident of San Ramon
on Oct 20, 2010 at 9:48 am

Hetch Hetchy belongs to san francisco, ironically, the hetch hetchy pipeline runs through sunol. ebmud uses various other reserviors.

Posted by Paul, a resident of Valley Trails
on Oct 20, 2010 at 12:54 pm

Dave is correct. Zone 7 did build a demineralization plant which is very effective at removing hardness from Zone 7's well water. The problem is that the City of Pleasanton has their own wells. These wells are not softened and are why you are geting such hard water. Furthermore, the City of Pleasanton has no intention of softening the wells since it has never been included in their Capital Improvement Plan. That is why the hardness is seasonal. It is cheaper for the City of Pleasanton to pump their own hard well water rather than pay Zone 7 for the softer surface water that Zone 7 treats from from the Southbay Aqueduct. Because of issues related to the feeding of the disinfectant, Pleasanton's wells have also been the cause of the chlorine odor that some neighborhoods get. The City of Pleasanton has always been happy to throw the blame at Zone 7 when most of the problems have been caused by Pleasanton's own wells.

Posted by BK, a resident of Hart Middle School
on Oct 23, 2010 at 4:42 pm

An article published in Feb 2009 mentioned about a new 'mineral processing plant on Hopyard Road' that was to start operations in June this year. I wonder what happened? since we still don't see any improvement.

Web Link

Posted by BK, a resident of Hart Middle School
on Oct 23, 2010 at 4:43 pm

See this web link --> Web Link

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