Does Hard Water Affect Plumbing

Many homes have hard water running through their taps. Unfortunately, hard water is a nuisance to homeowners because of the damage it causes to the plumbing system, appliances, and boilers. Understanding what hard water is and knowing the effects on plumbing will help you to make the right decision on how to prevent the phenomenon.

What Is Hard Water?

When it rains, water is often free of minerals. However, when water flows into the aquifers, it interacts with the minerals underground, primarily magnesium and calcium. The absorbed content changes the water from soft to hard because of the increased mineral content per gallon of water. While it is safe to consume hard water, it can create permanent spots on fixtures.

If the exteriors of your fixtures can be visibly destroyed by hard water, then the effect on the inside of the plumbing system could be even worse. Hard water leaves deposits on the water channels, and over time, these deposits accumulate until the opening in the pipe narrows. The situation can decrease water pressure and increase the chances of clogging. Perhaps the worst case is corrosion of the water heater, which can cause the unit to leak or fail.

How Hard Water Affects Plumbing

Hard water deposits can affect your plumbing system and appliances in the following ways:

1. Clogged Drains

Every time hard water flows through a drain screen or a faucet, calcium and magnesium attach to the sides of the pipe. As long as you continue running water in the system, more minerals will continue to stick to the pipe walls, thus causing a clog. The plumbing system gets damaged in the same way that plaque in human veins and arteries affects the flow of blood to the heart. With harmful mineral deposits, your water will flow slowly while also shortening the lifespan of the faucet materials, including steel, copper, and PVC.

2. Corrosion in Drains and Faucets

Hard water contains minerals with properties that are destructive to certain metal elements commonly used in plumbing. Magnesium and calcium can easily break down these metals, causing leaks, discolored water, or even breaks. In case you fail to repair the corroded section of the pipe, the whole component could disintegrate, forcing you to install a new plumbing system. Apart from pipes and faucets, hard water can corrode valves, fixtures, and appliances.

3. Reduced Water Quality

We rely on our plumbing system for clean water used for drinking, bathing, cooking, and many other daily chores. Hard water contains invisible minerals and particles. This makes the water safe for use but not suitable for the appliances. Minerals in hard water not only interfere with the performance of detergents and soaps, but they also cause the sticking of oils, dirt, and other substances on clothes and surfaces. This means that when using hard water, you must use a lot of cleaning products and take more time to clean your clothes and dishes.

4. Leaks and Broken Pipes

Leaks caused by hard water tend to occur in two ways. First, the minerals in the hard water corrode the piping materials, which eventually causes pores on the surface of the pipe. Over time, these pores grow larger until a leak occurs. Secondly, the minerals in the water may clog the water pipes, thus blocking their efficient flow. If the water is forcefully pumped, it can cause breakage of the pipes or a connection failure.

5. Energy Costs

Mineral deposits on fixtures affect the energy efficiency of your home. When the mineral residues settle on your clothes or dishes, you are more likely to rinse them a second or third time to ensure they sparkle. This will mean consuming more water and energy, which eventually raises the utility bills. Some washing machines and dishwashers can detect when items are already cleaned. With deposits on such devices, the sensors that detect the cleanliness may fail, thus causing the appliances to operate longer than they should.

Another energy cost when using hard water is incurred through investing in the products to remove the ugly deposits. Rather than purchasing several cleaning products, buying a water softening system would prevent these associated costs.

6. Water Heater Damage

Some larger appliances in your home, such as a washing machine, require a hot water heater to operate. However, heating hard water takes more time, and it’s more difficult to achieve the desired temperature. This not only shortens the life expectancy of the heater but also increases utility bills. Compared to using soft water, your bills may be higher by as much as 30%. While a heater may last up to 15 years, corrosion resulting from mineral deposits can reduce that life expectancy significantly.

Signs of Hard Water and Corrosion

There are many different signs that your plumbing is getting hard water buildup or corrosion. Read on to learn more.

Low Water Quality

Before noticing that your pipes have low pressure because of hard water, you may see traces of small particles or debris in the sink or shower. They are carried by the water as it flows through the pipes. These particles are evident in your drinking as a result of minerals in hard water, including calcium, magnesium, iron, and copper.

Increased Utility Bills

In case a pipe gets clogged due to the buildup of minerals, waste materials will get trapped in the fixture. This means that pipe pressure will increase to pump the water and may cause a crack to form in the plumbing system. Since a lot of water will be wasted from the leaking pipes and more pressure is required to pump the water, you will begin to notice a drastic increase in your utility bills.

Voided Warranties

Imagine not having warranties on your expensive appliances shortly after their purchase. Hard water deposits often void warranties offered by manufacturers. Warranties cover defects that result from issues arising as a result of the normal use of the product. Having breakage as a result of hard water may mean that you did not protect the appliance adequately. Consequently, the manufacturer might not honor your claim.

The Best Hard Water Solution

The good news is that you can easily fix a hard water problem. You can simply install a water softener in your home or business. Once installed, beads inside the water filter will remove the calcium and magnesium through ion exchange. The result is an effective method to eliminate these minerals before they reach your appliances or faucets. Water softeners always require the use of sodium to work effectively. The softeners can either be automatic, where the sodium tablets soften the water immediately when it reaches the home tank, or manual, which involves regular maintenance to free the minerals from potable water.

Rely on Local Expertise

Our plumbers at Anchor Plumbing Services perform trustworthy maintenance, repair, installation, and replacement services throughout the San Antonio area, and we offer a water softener system that removes the minerals from your drinking water. Our services are engineered by experts to protect your appliances and drainage lines from damage or corrosion. We also offer a complete range of plumbing options from drain cleaning to water heater maintenance to sewer line installation. Contact us today to get the best plumbing services.

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