About 80 percent of American homes have hard water coming out of their pipes. This is possible courtesy of magnesium, calcium, sulfur, and other minerals dissolving into the water somewhere along its journey to your tap. Though there have been studies indicating associations between hard water and cardiovascular or skin issues, this generally does not constitute a health risk, even if it might lead to the feeling of not quite being clean after a shower or bath.
Unfortunately, hard water can have an impact on the health of your home plumbing system, and the damages may not be obvious until it’s too late and you’re already facing a costly repair. The reality is that hard water can do considerable damage to your home’s plumbing — the same minerals dissolved in your water will leave deposits in your pipes and appliances that will degrade them over time.
As these mineral deposits accumulate, they start forming layers in your pipe, constricting water flow and putting unnecessary pressure on your pipes. To identify if you have this problem, take a look at your showerheads, sinks, and faucets. See if there are white or yellow deposits that feel like limestone or sand and don’t dissolve easily in water. These are some of the more obvious signs of calcium buildup in your pipes. These can also deface your home’s fixtures, making them look ugly, crusty, or stained and can even find their way onto your dishes and clothing from your appliances.
As these deposits build up, they also begin to shorten the lifespan of your appliances. The fact is once your plumbing system starts leaving signs of these deposits in the exterior parts of your home’s fixtures, there is already so much more deposited in the plumbing system.
While these deposits may not get so bad that your pipes become completely blocked, it can result in periodic clogs in the piping as well as decreased water flow and pressure. So, take note of your water pressure. If your water suddenly starts running at a lower pressure without any reason like reduced supply from the city, an empty well or storage tank, there may be a clog building in your piping.
Addressing this buildup yourself can be difficult, if not nearly impossible because these pipes run along the full interior of your home. Worse still, these deposits may even start to eat through your pipes. While there are a few possible options for dealing with hard water, none is as instant and effective as installing a water softener system in your home to take care of all the extra minerals in your home’s water supply.
These systems use a process called ion exchange to replace the magnesium and calcium responsible for hard water with sodium. The tank processes your water, and then flushes the hard minerals out, recharging itself to continue the process as your house draws water. If you think your home is suffering from hard water, talk to a water treatment specialist. Many companies that offer water softeners and treatment services are also willing to test and diagnose your water for free.