Finding Plumbing Issues Early

3 Ways Hard Water Causes Problems With Your Plumbing

by Chris Bowman

If you're trying to decide if your home needs a water softener, you may want to think about what hard water does to your plumbing. Hard water can create a lot of issues with your plumbing, so soft water could be worth it for that reason alone. Plus, there are many other benefits of soft water for your home besides just making your water more gentle on your plumbing. Here are some ways hard water can affect your plumbing.

1. Scale Causes Valves And Handles To Stick

One of the most annoying things about hard water is that the scale buildup collects on every part of the plumbing in your home, including shut-off valves and faucet knobs. If you use the valves or knobs regularly, you don't have much problem since the scale doesn't have a chance to accumulate.

When you don't use a valve for a long time that you never have to turn or that you rarely use, then they can get stuck in place due to the hard water scale that accumulates on the inside of the valve. This is a problem because when you have a plumbing emergency, the valve is stuck and won't turn the water off.

You can prevent this problem by turning the valves occasionally even if you don't need to turn off the water. If you have valves or faucet handles that are stuck now, call a plumber to repair them before you need to use them in an emergency.

2. Scale Builds Up In Pipes

Scale can build up in your plumbing pipes and contribute to clogs. Scale might even flake off and cause debris in your water. Scale clings to the pipes all the way to the end of the faucet. When the water pressure seems low from your shower or kitchen sink, it could be due to scale clogging the aerator or shower head.

You can remove the aerator and showerhead and soak them in vinegar overnight to get rid of the scale. Scale may never be a problem in your pipes unless it causes frequent clogs. If it ever has to be removed, a plumber can do it with a hydro jet that blasts all the scale off the sides of the pipe.

3. Mineral Scale Collects In The Water Heater

Hard water is bad for a water heater. The scale can build up inside the tank and affect the heating elements or cause clogging. Your plumber may be able to flush out the tank to remove some of the scale, but the scale will come back and shorten the life of your water heater. A water softener could be a permanent solution since a plumber installs it before the hot water heater so the appliance is protected from scale.