How Hard Water Damages Pipes and Appliances

Brad LackeyWater Damage, Water Damage Prevention

Faucet aerator with limescale

Faucet aerator with limescale

Although we would like to have appliances that lasts us a lifetime and never have to worry about it again, but we all probably had to dealt with some broken appliances. A broken washing machine, leaky dishwasher, or a water heater that suddenly stopped working. Not only do you have to replace or fix the appliances itself, but there could also be water damage on the property from these damaged appliances.

Maybe you spend some time wondering why the appliances are broken because you just bought it a couple of years ago. One of the culprits that shortens the lifetime of the appliances is the usage of hard water.

What is hard water?

You might sometimes hear this term in comparison to soft water, but without an exact idea of what hard water actually means.

Hard water refers to the water that contains high mineral content; the hardness of the water is determined by the amount of Calcium, Magnesium and trace amounts of other minerals in there. The higher the amount, the harder the water. According to U.S. Geological Survey, 0 to 60 mg/L (milligrams per liter) of calcium carbonate in the water is considered soft; 61 to 120 mg/L as moderately hard; 121 to 180 mg/L as hard; and more than 180 mg/L as very hard.

To see how hard water is affecting where you live, check out this map by U.S. Geological Survey:

Water hardness map

In the United States, over 85% of the water is hard water, so it is very likely your water at home has some kinds of mineral contents. Although hard water is safe for us to consume, it is not so good for everyday appliances.

Over time, hard water often results in limescale, or hard water scale buildup. You might notice an off-white chalky deposit in your bathtub, pipes, washing machine, or other appliances; especially in appliances that require hot water. Eventually limescale hardens to almost a rock-like texture if you do not scrub it off. It is a clear sign that hard water is damaging your appliances when you see limescale buildup.

How hard water affects pipes and appliances

Besides the fact that you might need to scrub the dishwasher or bathtubs once in a while, there are more damages to hard water than you would expect. If there is water running through the appliances, the chances are hard water is doing some sort of damage.

Reduced efficiency and lifespan

Hard water reduces both efficiency and lifespan of household appliances. Faucets, toilets, and coffeemakers are some of the examples. Here are some of the other main impacts to other common household appliances according to a study by the Water Quality Research Foundation (WQRF):

  • Water heater: Running hard water through the heater reduces the efficiency by 48%. Scale buildup shortened the lifespan significantly; the hardest water (over 180 mg/L) can reduce the lifespan of water heater by half.
  • Showerhead: Showerheads lost over 75% of flowrate within 18 months when using hard water. Not to mention hard water has been know give people dry hair and skin.
  • Dishwasher & Washing machine: The machines require more dish soap and laundry detergent to wash the dishes and clothing. Usage of softened water can reduce detergent and dish soap usage by 50%. The small costs add up in the long turn and it could be causing you a fortune!Pipe clogged with limescale

Clogged pipes

The minerals in hard water are very small to cause any clogs, but when hard water comes into contact with soap, it generates soap scum. This hard substance, looks very much like limescale, hardens when it travels down the pipes. As time goes on, hard water will continue to generate limescale and soap scum in the pipework of the appliances such as refrigerator and inside the sinks.

Because you cannot physically see buildup on the inside, by the time you notice the damage is usually too late. There could be pinhole leaks on the pipes. Even worse, if the pipes are clogged frequently, the internal pressure increases and it can lead to other water damages such as bursting pipes, mold growth, and flooding.

As you can see, using hard water in your home can be very costly and dangerous.

Contact for professional water damage restoration

Before looking into a water softener to avoid future damages, you have to take care of the current damages on your property.

If you see any signs of water damage, contact us for emergency water restoration in Northeastern Indiana at (260) 420-1502. ServiceMaster by Restoration Contractors is available 24/7 to respond to any emergency requests. The technicians will also keep the contents in the house safe by removing it from the damaged areas quickly. We will then extract any standing water and restore all affected materials from any water damage.

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