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Problems Caused by Hard Water and How to Fix Them

Close-up of rusty bathtub faucet covered in calcium deposits and mold spots in grout.

Hard water may not seem like a significant household concern, but behind the scenes, it can be a nuisance to your plumbing, appliances, and day-to-day cleaning. Over time, the solidified minerals in hard water build up inside your plumbing and clog the faucets, appliances, and piping that utilize that water supply. Avoid these long-term issues by learning more about the potential problems caused by hard water and how to resolve them.

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The Most Common Hard Water Concerns 

Can Hard Water Ruin Your Pipes?

Yes. Over time, the continued mineral buildup caused by hard water gets heated and develops into limescale. This limescale accumulates and can cause corrosion and low water flow. This puts more pressure on your pipes to keep water flowing efficiently throughout your home.

Related Content: Removing and Preventing Limescale

Can Hard Water Cause Hair Loss?

Not directly. However, the excess calcium and magnesium in hard water can irritate or dry your scalp. The residue left can clog your hair particles and prevent hair products from fully absorbing. It can also result in dry, flaky skin, creating unhealthy conditions for new hair growth. This issue is often worse for those with a genetic or medical predisposition to hair loss or dry skin.

Can Drinking Hard Water Cause Health Problems?

No. There are no direct health problems associated with drinking hard water. In fact, studies show that hard water's health impacts can benefit some due to the supplementary calcium and magnesium it provides.

Overall, the health impacts of hard water are still being studied. If you have concerns about your health regarding hard water, it’s best to consult your doctor.

Other Common Problems Caused by Hard Water

Aside from affecting your pipes, hard water can significantly impact all areas of your home that utilize or regularly come in contact with your water supply, which is a lot. Here are some of the major issues associated with hard water:

  • Mineral buildup on and around plumbing fixtures
  • Frequent plumbing repairs or replacement
  • Residue in your showers and tubs
  • Rust or corrosion on pipes
  • Low water pressure
  • Water heater damage
  • High water bills due to overcompensation
  • Slow drains from mineral buildup
  • Cloudy or damaged dishware
  • Dull laundry
  • Reduced appliance efficiency
  • Irritated, dry, or itchy skin
  • Hard water stains
  • White spots and streaks left after cleaning

How To Test for Hard Water at Home

There are a few ways you can test your home for hard water using water directly from your faucet, including:

  1. Boil water. Use a clean teapot or metal pot,and boil a few cups of water. Once the water has finished boiling, pour it out and check the walls of your kettle or pot for a ring of white hard water scale. If you don’t spot a ring, you don’t have a hard water problem. If you do, the amount of scale left indicates how hard your water is. The more scale, the harder the water.
  2. Test your soap suds. Fill a jar halfway with water, then add 10-15 drops of dishwashing liquid. Close and shake the bottle for 10-20 seconds, then set it down to examine the suds. If you see plenty of suds and clear water below, you’re likely not dealing with a hard water issue. Conversely, you probably have hard water if you see minimal suds and cloudy water below.
  3. Use a DIY test kit. Home hard water test kits are available at most home improvement stores or online. To use them, you’ll submerge the test strips in a container of water and examine the results based on the color identification chart provided in the kit.

Hard Water Solutions for Your Home

Here are some tips about how to fix hard water:

  • Water softener system. The best solution for whole-home hard water problems is installing a water softener. This long-term solution will help guarantee that your entire home plumbing system is protected against the effects of hard water.
  • Showerhead filters. Since this won’t protect your pipes from hard water, we recommend using this solution with a water softener system if your skin or scalp is particularly sensitive to hard water.
  • Rinse aids. Again, this won’t resolve the issue of hard water, but in conjunction with a water softening system, you may find that adding a rinse aid to your dishwasher can help prevent mineral buildup inside the dishwasher and on your dishes.
  • Routine plumbing maintenance. We recommend scheduling routine plumbing maintenance regardless of hard water problems, especially for your water heater. Routine flushes will remove mineral buildup and keep your system running more efficiently.

Related: How to Choose a Water Softener: Buying Guide

Nix the Hard Water Problems with Water Softening Solutions

Don’t let hard water diminish the efficiency of your plumbing system, appliances, or even the quality of your day-to-day routine. Let the experts at Benjamin Franklin Plumbing assess your home’s hard water needs and provide the best possible solutions. Call us at 1-877-BEN-1776 [OUW9] or book an appointment online.

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