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A Hard Plumbing Truth

Faucet with white hard water residueIt’s no secret that hard water can cause serious damage to your pipes. For a lot of homeowners, this can mean extra time and money spent on maintaining or repairing the damage caused by hard water. However, most homeowners believe that they do not have this issue, or that the high mineral content of the water is filtered out by the city. Unfortunately, this isn’t quite the case.

Hard water plagues almost every homeowner, and it’s an issue everyone should consider. While locations with extremely high mineral content might have more of an issue and need to take serious precautions, everyone with a plumbing system should be careful.

Causes and issues with high mineral content

Hard water is water that has a high mineral content, unlike soft water. The high mineral content occurs when water percolates, or filters, through porous deposits of limestone and chalk. These deposits are made up primarily of calcium and magnesium carbonates. The high mineral content can cause damage and buildup in plumbing fixtures, resulting in bursts or breakdowns.

The high mineral content will often create deposits within the plumbing fixtures, whether they are residential or commercial. This buildup restricts the flow of water in pipes and impairs the flow of heat into water, which ends up drastically reducing the heating efficiency and might cause overheating of plumbing fixtures. If a system is pressurized it could lead to complete failure. There can also be issues with galvanic corrosion, which can pose even more issues.

Water softening

It is possible to soften hard water. This softening is often taken care of by detergents whose ingredients counteract the effects of hard water on plumbing fixtures and other piping. Due to this, water softening can be considered unnecessary. You can tell if you have soft water if you use soap and the soap lathers up easily when agitated, unlike hard water where it will not lather much at all.

However, if you want to soften your water, or if the city handles water softening, you must be aware that this can cause delays when water is sent to your home and will pose more challenges the larger the infrastructure. There are recommended levels of calcium (40-80 ppm) and magnesium (20-30 ppm) in drinking water, but your local city should ensure that all water is safe to drink, so you shouldn’t need to worry about filtering all your water if you are unable to.

Hard water, what can you do?

Over 85% of American homes have hard water. Obviously water softening isn’t exactly the solution. It requires additional equipment or city infrastructure, much of which is out of your hands. You might be dealing with water hardness issues and want to address it within your plumbing. The buildup of minerals could pose serious issues down the line, and you need to have a plan in place before then. Start by consulting a plumber. Do you have hard water? How can you fix it? What issues might you be facing? Once you have a plan you can work with a professional to address the issue and find the best solution.

Since this is a problem that affects the majority of Americans, you don’t need to worry about adverse health risks. There are no health risks associated with hard water, as hard water is only a threat to mechanical and industrial elements like pipes, metal, etc. You can invest in taps and water filters to lower the mineral content of your water, but that will only affect the water at the terminus of the pipe, not the entire pipe.

Ultimately, there isn’t much you can do on your own to alter the mineral content of your water. You need to work with a qualified plumber to address the issue and insure you won’t have a burst pipe or poor heating down the road. You can find out the water content and quality from your local water treatment manager, so that will give you a better idea of how to proceed. Remember, contact a professional today to avoid any major damage.

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