Hard Water's Impact on Pipes and Appliances

The hard water in your home’s pipes and appliances can have negative effects on your life that you may not realize. In this article, we’ll go over the impact of hard water on pipes and appliances and how you can limit its effect on your life. Read more to learn what you need to know about hard water and how it affects your house so you can make informed decisions about when to repair or replace appliances or start looking into water softeners and filters.

What is Hard Water? 

Hard water is simply water that has a high mineral content. Calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, manganese, copper and phosphate can all cause problems in your home if you have a lot of it. These minerals can create limescale when they combine with substances like soap or detergent. The limescale builds up inside pipes and around appliances like washing machines and dishwashers which will make them less efficient. It can also build up in your shower head creating unpleasant bath water. 

Finally hard water leaves unsightly white rings and streaks where ever you use soaps or other products containing fats and oils. On many occasions we find ourselves using more of our cleaning products just to clean up after hard water buildup rather than actually doing what we were trying to accomplish in the first place.

Consequences of Hard Water on Pipes

If left unfixed for long periods of time, these leaks could lead to structural damages as well as indoor mold problems. 14.5% of respondents said they had experienced some damage to appliances due to hard water while 5% had damage that required professional attention. Here are just some examples: Corrosion – Hard water can have a corrosive effect on pipes and piping systems. The presence of calcium carbonate, or other minerals in hard water forms a white efflorescence (lime scale) which is highly corrosive to steel, zinc, brass or copper in contact with it. Over time, these metals corrode at their points of contact with water flowing through them. This causes leaks from both inside or outside sources into homes. 

If left unfixed for long periods of time, these leaks could lead to structural damages as well as indoor mold problems. 14.5% of respondents said they had experienced some damage to appliances due to hard water while 5% had damage that required professional attention. Here are just some examples: Rusted Coffee Maker, Mildew in Dishwasher, Grey Soaps. 

Hard water has been known to cause soap scum build up and stains on clothing if not washed out properly. It can also build up minerals on surfaces such as sinks, showers/bathtubs, tubs, and toilets resulting in 'bathtub rings'. Hard water stains glass shower doors while leaving small mineral deposits behind after bathing or showering.

Consequences of Hard Water on Home Appliances 

Hard water can leave an unpleasant odor or film in clothes washed in it, be harder to rinse out of dishes, take longer to clean, have a rougher feel. Hard water does not impact food in cooked meals; however, hard water may interfere with baking (e.g., bread may require more yeast). It also impacts dishwashers by leaving behind a hard-to-remove layer of soap scum. 

The mineral composition of hard water also contributes to scale formation on kettles, coffee makers and instant hot water dispensers. Hardened scales make these appliances inefficient over time, but careful cleaning is usually enough to restore them for short periods of time. 

How to reduce the effects of hard water in your home?

The first step to getting rid of hard water is to determine how much it’s actually impacting your home. Do you have spots or film on your glassware? If so, it may be time to start thinking about getting a softener. However, if you’re noticing problems with your appliances — specifically older ones like those used in dishwashers, washing machines, and coffeemakers — it might be worth investing in a whole-house water filter. A water softener is a machine that adds sodium to water. This can help reduce hard water’s impact on appliances, fixtures, and fabrics. But, what if you don’t have a water softener? 

Here are some ways you can protect your home against hard water ’s negative effects: 

  • Clean surfaces with vinegar – Vinegar is mild acid which will counterbalance minerals in hard water, like calcium, that cause surface buildup over time. Just add 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water in a spray bottle (or dish soap) and wipe away any hard-water buildup on dishes, shower doors or even sofas. No surface should be too big for vinegar! (It also makes clean-up a snap.) 

  • Filters – These aren’t expensive or difficult to install but they may not be worth it depending on how much hard water runs through your house. Generally, you only need one filter near your faucet—if it’s hard at all—and another near your washing machine. The real cost savings of installing a whole-house filter depends on just how bad your hard water is.
  • Laundry detergent – Scour out those suds every other load to get rid of soap residue in order to keep dirt and grime from being ground into fabric fibers before cleaning ever takes place. Once grime has been ground into fibers, there isn’t really anything that can soften them again except fabric softeners , which contain silicone oils that coat clothes and prevent dirt from being ground into fibers later by friction while they’re hanging on clothing racks or sitting in bins at laundromats. 

After reading through our blog, do you believe your home or office space has Hard Water Problems? Get in touch with the Water Softener & Hard Water Professionals at Bulldog Rooter today to help you mitigate hard water issues and ensure your pipes last longer! 

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