Welcome back to the Richard Piet show. A brand new series getting ready to start right now, we’re calling it Gordon Water Wisdom drops of wisdom from Gordon Water. See what we did there? Yeah, a little bit of a water reference, of course, because water, in all seriousness, has been something of concern over the last few years. As we hear about municipal water systems and challenges with those and questions about the water quality and folks wells even and things like that. And so we’ll spend some time talking about that with Tom Duisterhof of Gordon Water Systems, which is well known here in West Michigan and certainly hope to make it well-known to you if you aren’t already familiar. Tom, welcome. Thank you.
Yeah, thanks for having me, Richard.
So in a moment, we’re going to talk a little bit about hard water and why it is a problem, how to get rid of it, that sort of thing. But first, let’s talk about your company. Tom and his brother, Steve, are the second generation owners overseeing Gordon water. Isn’t that right?
It is our father, Gordon Duisterhof started Duisterhof’s Water back in 1973 and it was difficult for people to fit on a check and spell it. So he changed it to his first name. A little easier, but yeah, a lot easier, quite frankly. So yeah, we’ve been 48 years plus and so it’s been an exciting journey. Steve’s been there 35 years. I’ve been there 25, and we’ve grown from a small location downtown Kalamazoo to four locations Portage, Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, Rockford.
You know, the process of making water better has changed in that time, hasn’t it? There’s more options.
There are a lot of options and it’s pretty interesting to look at all the different things that are available. And primarily, those options are coming in ways on the drinking water front. There is a tremendous amount of options in that space, and we can talk about that another time, but water softening. My father started as a Lindsey dealer and then a couple of years into it, he bought some these cool looking, non-electric Kinetico water softeners. And we’ve been a Kinetico dealer ever since, quite frankly. And both of those pieces of equipment were very unique, and they were very efficient and very good at doing what they were supposed to do. And that was remove hardness and a particular type of iron.
Ok, and that’s what we’re going to focus on in this. And frankly, the second episode as well, talking about some of these things and in future episodes, we’re going to talk more about Kinetico and the systems and how to make sure you’re asking the right questions when you’re considering a system and that sort of thing. But let’s focus on hard water for a second here. I think a lot of us know it when we see some of the effects of it, but maybe we don’t know a whole lot about it. Tom, what is hard water?
You know, hard water is a nice nickname, is what it is, and it comes from the fact that water in general is called a universal solvent. And oddly enough, when rainwater falls and it lands on the ground and it percolates down through the ground, it starts dissolving those rocks. And when we have our wells, whether it’s municipal wells or private wells or even water, let’s say, Lake Michigan. Here in West Michigan, there’s a number of municipalities that pull off the lake. That water is hard as well, and what that means is the water has dissolved rock. We pump it into our homes, either through a city pipe or our own pipes. And when that water either gets heated like in your water heater or it’s the showerhead or the kitchen faucet or bathroom faucets in the water disappears, the H2O goes away. Guess what’s left? The dissolved rock and that’s the white crusts we see building up. It’s literally rock reforming because the water has evaporated.
Interesting. Well, that’s exactly what I was talking about when I was saying that. Sometimes we may not know that we have hard water, but then we see the effects of it and we wonder, Well, what is that? And that is one of them. That’s more obvious are those deposits that are left?
Yeah. And the deposits are not that. They’re not as visible are the ones inside your appliances and your water heater. We have seen water heaters cut apart that have pounds and I mean pounds of rock chunks that have come back out of solution in the water heater because of the energy of the water heater. And they formed on the sides and then they slough off and land in the bottom. And we’ve seen, I don’t know, 10, 15, 20 pounds of rock in bottoms of water heaters in the back.
Wow, that’s incredible. So. That just means that there’s less water filling the tank, I presume.
Right? Oh, that and a few other things such as you’ve got to spend a lot more energy to heat the water because you have an insulated barrier of rock between your water and the heating element.
Boy, that makes a lot of sense when you describe that. Sure. Why would it run well
With all of that? Yeah, exactly.
Yeah, the notion is then we have to take some steps to eliminate this problem, and that’s really the core of your business is learning to find a way to do that. But as well, there are some benefits to having softer water, are there not?
Oh, of course. And we just touched on one briefly there with the water heater. But again, back to the visible ones, the ones you can sense and see, what we don’t realize and maybe what you realize when you’re having to scrub around a faucet or clean the showerhead because it’s got a bunch of buildup on it, is you’re spending a lot more time and you’re probably, quite frankly, using things that are hard water deposit removers, you know, like a CLR or something like that. That’s right. You’re spending a lot of money and quite frankly, elbow grease and time in trying to clean those fixtures. Keep them looking good, the sinks, the faucets, the showerheads. You’re using more cleaning chemicals than you need to a lot more. The hidden ones are the ones in the shower. People think, Oh, I’m all rinsed off. Well, guess what? The soap and the hard water react on your skin and on your hair, such that it actually leaves, and it sounds kind of gross and can be a soap curd, a little bit of a layer of soap and hardness that were fighting each other in the water, are stuck to your skin, and it can create itchiness. We’ve had people say, Oh, I get this in the winter, you know, my skin dries. But it’s not only dry skin, it’s actually a layer of the soap scum that they’re seeing and soft water doesn’t give you that. And in fact, you use way less bar soap or body soap or shampoo or even conditioner because you don’t have to battle all of that hard water soap scum type stuff.
And yeah, and back to the water heater, it’s incredible. There was a study done years ago, years ago, 27 seven percent, almost 30 percent more energy to heat water that has hardness in it than soft water. And that’s because you have an insulated layer. Whether you have an electric water heater, the hardness builds up on those long elements that protrude into the water. Or if you have a gas one that obviously is at the bottom and goes around the tank and then exits out at the top. But that builds up on the lining of the water heater. What’s quite interesting is the new tankless water heaters. Yeah, those have a clause in them that say, if you have hard water, your warranty is voided. Whoa, yeah, because their tolerances are so close, they’re transferring the heat so quickly that if they had hardness build up. they’re going to plug and you’re not going to get very good flow. And they’re not going to transfer the energy. They’re not going to transfer the warmth yeah, to your water. So you save money. You not only extend the life of your water heater, but you save money in the the number of years it’s functioning. You’re saving up to 30 percent on your energy costs in your water heater. And that’s just incredible.
It is, and this makes a lot of sense. I mean, if you were to take a couple of buckets of gravel and load it on the bottom of your water heater and close it up and turn it on, it would make a ton of sense that you would not feel the hot water get hot quicker because it has to go through that. This makes perfect sense.
What you’re saying? Yeah. And again, it’s that hidden thing, so I’m glad we’re talking about it. People don’t think about it because you can’t see it or feel it right. Mm hmm you know, and back to the skin and hair in the shower, we’re talking body soaps and shampoos and conditioners. But then out of the shower, what what happens a lot of times is people will apply lotions because their skin itches. It feels funny. And so I’m not saying people totally eliminate shampoo or conditioner or soap in the shower or even what they might put on for lotions afterwards. But I can guarantee you that just like in a water heater, you spend more money to heat the water. You’re spending a whole lot more money on shampoo soaps, haircare products and skin products than you need to. If you had soft water, incredible.
So someone’s listening to this time, and they’re saying, OK, I need to know what my situation is with hard or soft water in the house and they call you, what can they expect to have happen?
Well, the very first thing and again, having 48 years of history and counting. We certainly want to better understand the needs and concerns that they have. And the best way for us to do that is not only listen to them on the phone or communicate via email or text. But we really part of our proven process is to have one of our water specialists stop and test the water in the home, even if it’s municipal water. We have discovered with a number of municipalities, especially those fed by large municipal wells, water hardness and water chemistry can vary within the city or municipality because different wells can feed different areas of a city. So private well or city water, we like to come out and test the water and confirm really what hardness, iron and some of the other characteristics are. But the other thing is we need to look at the plumbing and not only the in and the out, but the drain. We have to make sure there’s an appropriate drain and space. Some people have have limited space, so all of those things come into play because we we have the largest selection available for water treatment in West Michigan, and to recommend something over the phone, we can give you a range, but it’s really a range and we do have a 90 day performance guarantee. And for us to apply that, we have to be able to get in and test the water and review the plumbing and all of that.
Well, that makes sense to you. Don’t know what the problem is until you actually identify it and you need to go right to where the folks are in order to do that. So that makes plenty of sense. And what we’ve done now is right here in the show notes is the link to Gordon Water. Or you can just type it in gordonwater.com and you’ll see all the information you need to see to make contact with Tom and his team and find out what the situation is with the water in your home. And so we’ve set the scene. Gordon Water Wisdom Series will continue and you’ll find it here. A special series, The Richard Piet Show.