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Is Hard Water Damaging Your Plumbing System?

The water running through your home’s pipes is used for many daily tasks. Whether it’s water for drinking, doing laundry, watering the plants, or taking a shower, as long as the water is clean, you’re happy! Right? Unfortunately, it’s not always that simple.

What is hard water?

Hard water is a term used for freshwater that contains high amounts of natural minerals like calcium and magnesium. As water comes down from the sky as rain, it is as pure as it can be. Once it hits the earth, this water is subjected to whatever is in the environment around it. The water collects these excess minerals as it travels from the ground into aquifers, which is why the hardness of your water is determined primarily by your location. 

There are several ways to know if your home has hard water. If your home has a hard water supply, you may notice that your drinking glasses aren’t crystal clear or your hands still feel slimy after rinsing off the soap. You might also see a white, chalky stain on your faucets. There may be a film left behind in the bathtub or shower. Hard water isn’t dangerous for humans to use or drink; however, hard water can cause significant issues with your home’s plumbing system over time. 

What issues can hard water cause?

As hard water is heated, cooled, and running through your pipes, it can leave behind calcium deposits and other mineral build-ups. The minerals in hard water react with many cleaning supplies, which only exacerbates the problem. Read on to discover some of the effects of hard water:

  • Reduced water supply
    • When hard water runs through your pipes, it leaves behind trace mineral deposits on the inside. In time, these small deposits can become a big issue. When there is less space for the water to flow through, you will see a reduction in your water supply.
  • Increased stress on pipes
    • Because of the deposits left behind by hard water, the pressure inside your pipes can build up. This pressure can cause excess stress on your plumbing system. In the worst-case scenario, you may see leaks and burst pipes. 
  • Film/scale deposits on tiles and fixtures
    • While it’s not dangerous to your health, nobody likes seeing a film build-up in places that are supposed to be clean. Using soap may worsen the problem, as some cleaners react with the minerals in your water, producing more scum. 
  • Spots on glasses and dishes
    • Hard water can make a mockery of your hard work washing dishes. You may notice hard water spots left behind when examining your dry glassware. These cloudy spots are remnants of the excess minerals in hard water. 
  • Less effective washing of clothes
    • When you use soap with hard water, it can produce soap scum due to a chemical reaction. This soap scum can reduce the amount of suds and effectiveness of your washing machine.
  • Life shortening of appliances that utilize water
    • Your dishwasher or coffee maker may not last as long as the sales receipt suggests. Build-up from hard water in your pipes can cause problems, but imagine how much worse it can be when the pipes and connection lines are smaller! Tiny sprayer nozzles in the dishwasher and fill tubes in your coffee maker can get blocked quickly, leading to pressure build-up and leaks. Water heaters are hit especially hard in this arena; your water heater has to work twice as hard to heat the water in the tank and the deposits left behind by hard water. These deposits can also form around the heating element, further weakening its ability. 

What can I do about it?

First, you can test your water and determine the hardness level of your water. You can get this information by contacting your water provider and requesting a recent water testing report. You can also purchase a water hardness test kit from your local hardware store. 

If your water is only mildly hard, you can purchase water conditioning products that can be helpful. However, if your hard water levels are high or you want a simple way to treat all the water in your home, installing a water softener system is the most efficient solution. 

Understanding what hard water is and how it affects your plumbing can help you determine what, if anything, needs to be done about it. Contact Plumb One in Birmingham, Alabama, to learn more about your options to protect your home from hard water damage. Our team of professional plumbers can help you make the best decision for your home and provide the required services. All it takes is one call to get started!