If you’re unfamiliar with the term “hard water” as it pertains to water quality in a home, you may worry about the potential health effects it could cause. Hard water is incredibly common in home—affecting roughly ¾ of households in the United States. Luckily, it’s very unlikely for the minerals in your water—like calcium—which cause hard water to have any ill health effects.
However, the effect on some plumbing systems can be nearly devastating. You might find yourself replacing anything from the showerhead to the pipes sooner than you expected. Learn more about how hard water can affect your plumbing, and consider a whole-house water softener today.
What hard water leaves behind
Hard water leaves behind mineral deposits, which you’ve likely seen in the sink or shower before. Think about yellowish residue that gathers on the kitchen sink, or white spots around the bathroom drains. Look for spots that form on the end of your showerhead. If you’ve ever seen this type of residue, you likely have hard water.
You might also notice water spots left behind in dishes or soap scum in the tub and laundry, as hard water makes it difficult for soap to dissolve. Some people say they notice hair is dull and dry after washing when hard water is around.
How pipes are affected
When you have hard water, one of the biggest risks is to your pipes. That buildup you see on the faucets and drains is only a tiny indicator of what could be inside of the pipes. Those mineral deposits build up and continue to fill the pipes, reducing the volume available inside.
You may notice a slow drop in water pressure. Plumbers might be able to clean out the pipes with chemicals. At a point, however, nothing can be done, and the pipes may need replacement.
How appliances and fixtures are damaged
The same damage that afflicts the inside of the pipes could do a lot of damage to a number of appliances within the home. This includes…
- Sink faucets
- Water heaters
- Refrigerator lines
- Coffee makers
- Clothes washers
You may have to replace these items too soon. In fact, due to the diameter of the pipes leading into many of these appliances, you’re likely to notice the damage sooner than with the water lines in the home. Water heaters and boiler pressures can grow to dangerous levels when minerals take up space in the tank. And the cost of maintaining these systems can skyrocket.
The whole-house solution
For the best and most effective solution to hard water, we recommend a whole-house approach. A water softener works where the water enters your home, which means all the fixtures and pipes are protected from the damages of hard water.
Water softeners use a brine solution to “scrub” the water clean of minerals like calcium and magnesium. As it does, a salt solution leaves the brine, trading it out for the minerals, but the level of salt should not be high enough to cause concern. If the sodium levels in the water do concern you, you can always add in a secondary filtration system.