tap waterYou’ve probably heard the term hard water before, right?

But do you know what it really means?

Or, more importantly, the problems it can cause in your plumbing and in your life?

Hard water is water with higher levels of minerals, such as magnesium and calcium, in it. Hard water isn’t a problem everywhere but is usually found in areas where the groundwater has to run over rocks full of limestone or calcium.

You can usually detect hard water by its taste and appearance, but if you’ve had hard water most of your life this may be difficult. A quick way to determine if you have hard water is to take a look at the hard water map from the USGS.

Now that you have a better understanding of hard water and looked at the map, let’s take a look at the problems hard water creates in your plumbing.

1. Lime and Mineral Deposits Damages Pipes and Appliances

Since hard water contains more lime and minerals than normal, it makes sense that as hard water flows through your pipes and appliances, the lime and other minerals flow through the pipes as well. Eventually, the minerals buildup in your pipes and appliances and create problems.

Mineral deposits in your pipes can reduce water flow and create clogs. At its worst, hard water deposits can cause pipes and plumbing fixtures to leak and fail. Hard water can ruin seals and washers in fixtures, block valves, and damage the fixture’s finish.

Just as hard water damages your pipes, it can damage your appliances as well. The deposit and build up of minerals can cause appliances to work harder to run and even decrease their useful life. What appliances are affected by hard water? Any that use water – from the ice maker to the water heater, they’re all vulnerable.

To remove hard water deposits from pipes, you can use CLR or vinegar and baking soda. This also works to remove calcium buildup in hot water pipes. If your buildup is more advances and has entered the clogging stage, you can schedule our drain cleaning team to clean out your drains safely and completely.

2. Scale Buildup and Film Harms the Appearance of Tile and Fixtures

Just as mineral deposits are building inside your plumbing and appliances, it can build on the surface of fixtures as well. Ceramic tile and ceramic plumbing fixtures are the most susceptible to white scale and film buildup. The buildup is visible and usually can even be felt with your hand.

Hardwater mineral deposits are easily cleaned and removed if they aren’t left to buildup. Once built up, they can cause staining and damage to finishes that isn’t reversible.

3. Hard Water Makes It Hard to Clean Dishes, Clothing, and Hair

Hard water also takes a toll on your dishes, clothing, hair, and skin.

Think about it. You’re using the same water that contains minerals and scale that clogs pipes and ruins fixtures on your dishes and on your body.

If you have a dishwasher, you may have noticed spots on glassware even though you just finished a cycle and they are supposed to be clean. This is hard water. You probably notice this less if you wash your dishes by hand, but it can still be a problem.

When it comes to your washing machine and clothing, the same thing is true. Hard water decreases the amount of suds in the washer and that translates to clothing that isn’t washed as well.

When your taking a shower or bathing in hard water, you may notice your hair or skin feels dry or looks dull. This usually happens because it’s more difficult to rinse off shampoo and soaps in hard water.

If you have hard water, you may want to install a water softener system to fix the issue and prevent all of the above problems from happening. To find out more, contact the team at Simpson Plumbing today.