Hard water is a term that sometimes confuses people. What it means is water that has a higher than normal level of minerals such as magnesium and calcium in it. This isn’t harmful to drink, but it can be harmful for a home’s plumbing system. The reason is that hard water causes scaling, which is a major problem for pipes, water heaters, and other appliances. Hard water also creates other irritants in a home, such as difficulty creating soap lather and making clothing washed in laundry machines stiff, coarse, and faded. But for this post, we’re going to focus on scaling and what can be done about it.
What Is Scaling?
It has nothing to do with reptiles, nor anything to do with a progression of musical notes. The “scale” we’re talking about here is limescale. This is a substance that starts to form on the inside of pipes and water-using appliances because of minerals in the water. You’ve probably already seen scaling affect in your home before on pots, pans, and glasses. If you hold up a glass to the light and notice that it appears cloudy after it’s been washed, that’s the formation of limescale. The higher the mineral content in the water, the heavier the scaling.
What’s the Problem with Limescale?
You mean aside from spotty-looking wine glasses and spending more time trying to keep pots and pans clean? Limescale is a major issue for plumbing. The scale you see on fixtures or furnishings is minor compared to what will begin to build up in the pipes if you have hard water. The minerals in hard water include calcites, and these form a tough, hard buildup inside pipes. After a few years, the limescale on the walls can become thick enough to raise the water pressure in the pipes. This will lead to leaks and increase the frequency of clogging in the pipes. It can eventually clog up a pipe entirely.
Limescale is even worse for water-using appliances like water heaters. A layer of limescale inside a water heater tank can cause the system to overheat and breakdown. Limescale can ruin tankless water heaters even faster, since only a small amount of scale in the heat exchanger can stop water flow through the system entirely.
What Can Be Done to Stop Limescale and Hard Water?
Because hardness in water originates outside your home, the best approach is to have a whole-house water softener installed. This system uses ion exchange to swap the hard water ions for sodium ions, safely removing the hard water minerals. You must have a professional handle choosing the right size of water softener for your needs and then install it. The water softener will require occasional maintenance to refill its brine tank so it can recharge itself with sodium.
If you think you need a water softener in Lutz, FL or you need repairs to deal with limescale troubles in the pipes or appliances, you only need to get in touch with us. We have more than 25 years of experience handling home plumbing.