Water is referred to as Hard Water when it contains an elevated concentration of minerals like magnesium and calcium. While this type of water is safe for human consumption, it can leave ugly, hard to clean spots on your appliances, increase wear on clothing, and the scale deposits from the hard water shortening the life of your water heaters.
Even worse, over time hard water causes scale buildup inside your water supply pipes, thereby restricting water flow and damages your pipes. Knowing exactly how hard water damages your plumbing can help you determine what is at stake and what you can do about it. Now, let’s hit the ground running.
How Does Hard Water Damages Your Plumbing?
The visible buildup on the outside of your fixtures and appliance is only one small part of the overall accumulation that is happening in your plumbing, and they are the least of your worries. After some time, your plumbing accumulates calcium, magnesium and other minerals and they build up until they narrow the opening of the pipes and reduce the amount of water that can flow through your pipes.
Now, these mineral deposits are unlikely to block your pipes completely. However, they can decrease your available water flow, lead to the formation of clogs and reduce your water pressure. While these minerals accumulations are too small to block your drains on their own physically, the ions can react with soap to create soap scum which hardens as it moves down the pipes. The harden soap scum can clog toilets, interfere with garbage disposals, and create plugs which can slow drains.
In addition to the hard water minerals creating hazards inside of your home, they can also be hard on the inner working of your plumbing, as this could lead to problems like joinery gaps and pinhole leaks. The more minerals accumulate in your pipes, the more internal pressure it can experience, and this can lead to issues like mold growth, drips inside of the walls, and sometimes indoor flooding. Altogether, hard water outcome leads to less efficient plumbing which could also mean more repairs over time.
What Can You Do To Prevent Hard Water From Damaging Your Pipes?
The solution to your pipes suffering from scale build-up is relatively simple: you can use water conditioning products, get a water softener device, or use a reverse osmosis water treatment system.
You can use water conditioning products to deal with mildly hard water. However, the most common effective solution is a water softener system. A water softener is a device that trades the hard water minerals for sodium ions. The outcome is that these minerals are removed effectively from the water before it reaches your faucets, appliances, and travel through your plumbing.
In the case of reverse osmosis water treatment system, impurities in the hard water are removed through a semipermeable membrane. The little filter traps all kind of contaminants and not just hard minerals. However, these systems are usually more expensive than water softeners appliances.