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How Hard Water Affects Your Plumbing


Hard water is a term that refers to freshwater containing high levels of natural elements like magnesium, calcium and trace metals. It is not harmful when it comes to a person’s health, but when it comes to the plumbing in the home, hard water can be harmful indeed. It can damage appliances and pipes, and it can leave unsightly mineral deposits in tubs, showers, sinks and everywhere else. Hard water can leave hair and skin with a dry feeling, and it can leave spots on dishes.

Where Does Hard Water Come From?

Water is always soft when it falls to the ground as rain. Rainwater around Boston, though, travels through the ground on its way to aquifers, and on the way, it picks up minerals, including calcium. The U.S. Geological Survey measures the hardness of water based on how much calcium carbonate it carries, with four different categories:

  • More than 181 milligrams per liter – Very hard
  • 121 to 180 milligrams per liter – Hard
  • 61 to 120 milligrams per liter – Moderately hard
  • 0 to 60 milligrams per liter – Soft

What Does Hard Water Do to Plumbing?

In addition to leaving mineral deposits in showers and tubs, hard water also leads to mineral buildup in pipes, appliances, and fixtures. These unseen mineral deposits can reduce water flow, cause clogs and stress fixtures or pipes. They can also result in appliances operating inefficiently or breaking down quickly. A water heater running hard water, for example, will have to heat the mineral deposits left by hard water along with the water itself. In these and similar ways, hard water can cause less efficient plumbing operation and require more frequent repair work.

What Can Be Done About Hard Water?

There are a number of products on the market designed to condition the water in your home. The most common and comprehensive solution is a water softener. A whole-home water softener system can be a cost-effective, efficient way to soften your water and make your plumbing last.

If you’re in Quincy or the South Shore, the professionals at Aspinwall Plumbing & Heating can test your water and offer soft water solutions to make your life easier. We also offer heating and cooling services. Call us today.

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