Hard water may taste and smell bad, but the real problem is the toll it takes on your fixtures, pipes, and appliances.
Hard water can affect the longevity of any appliance in your home that uses water. That includes washing machines, dishwashers, water heaters, refrigerators—even coffee makers! Hard water can cause a myriad of problems, but appliance longevity is one of the most serious, as repairing and replacing appliances can be costly.
Learn more about hard water, appliance longevity, and what you can do to save money?
What Is Hard Water?
Water “hardness” refers to the amount of dissolved calcium and magnesium in the water. Rainwater is considered “soft” because it is generally pure and free of minerals. However, once absorbed into the ground, it can wind its way through soil and rock, such as limestone, and pick up high levels of calcium and magnesium, which are carried to the groundwater supply.
If you have hard water, you may notice you need to use more soap or detergent to clean clothes, dishes, and your body because soap doesn’t lather well. In fact, the term “hard water” was coined because the lack of soap lather made it “hard” to wash anything.
Other signs of hard water include:
- A film on your hands after washing them.
- Mineral buildup around your faucets.
- Cloudy spots or film on glasses and silverware from the dishwasher.
- Clothes that have stains are stiff or don’t look clean after washing.
- Soap scum that frequently needs to be scrubbed in your shower.
About 85 percent of homes in the United States have hard water.
One way to measure water hardness is in milligrams of calcium per liter, or mg/L. These are the guidelines for determining the hardness of water:
- Soft water has 0–60 mg/L of calcium.
- Moderately hard water has 61–120 mg/L of calcium.
- Hard water has 121-180 mg/L of calcium.
- Very hard water has >180 mg/L of calcium.
Hard Water And Efficiency
The minerals responsible for hard water can cause limescale buildup and clog pipes that carry hot water. That reduces the flow and water pressure in your shower and faucets and can block the pipes completely, causing them to burst.
Limescale can also clog the pipes and valves in your appliances and reduce water flow, which reduces the efficiency of appliances.
It can also cause damage to parts—requiring repairs and parts replacements—and shorten the lives of appliances by 30–50% and increase energy bills by 29% due to reduced efficiency.
For water heaters, every five grains per gallon of water hardness will cause a 4% loss in efficiency, and showerheads can lose 75% of their flow rate in less than 18 months. So, the harder the water, the lower the efficiency over time.
Hard Water and Your Appliances
In the 1970s, appliances were built to last 30 to 50 years; today, it is down to about ten years. So, it’s difficult to keep appliances running without hard water, further reducing longevity. Here’s a look at how hard water can reduce the lifespan of fixtures and appliances:
|Appliance||Expected Lifespan||Lifespan With Hard Water|
|Washing Machine||11 Years||7.7 Years|
|Dishwasher||10 Years||7 Years|
|Toilet||6.5 Years||2 Years|
|Faucet||9 Years||5.4 Years|
|Electric Water Heater||13 Years||6.5 Years|
|Gas Water Heater||11 Years||5.5 Years|
When washing machines and dishwashers lose efficiency because of hard water, you need more water and soap to clean. As more water is used, more limescale builds up and further affects the performance of your appliances.
What You Can Do
The best solution to hard water problems is a water softener. Aqualite offers whole-home systems to meet your water needs.
Our whole-home water filtration systems produce the purest, safest, and cleanest water possible.
We offer Chlorostatic™ conditioners and bacteriostatic softeners.
Chlorostatic™ water conditioners reduce hardness, chlorine and chloramines, and unpleasant tastes and odors.
Bacteriostatic water softeners inhibit bacteria growth and filter, soften, and refine water.
An ion exchange swaps calcium and magnesium ions with sodium or potassium ions with these systems. The hard water passes through a bed of ion exchange resin, producing soft water.
The softeners have SilverShield® Protection, which is based on NASA technology and inhibits bacteria growth.
We also offer Puronics® “Green” conditioner or filtration systems, which don’t require salt or potassium. Because there is no such thing as a salt-free softener, these systems don’t change the hardness of the water, but they do reduce limescale buildup. That will positively affect your pipes, appliances, and fixtures but won’t solve other hard water problems like soap lathering and skin and hair dryness. The Water Quality Association suggests thinking of water softener benefits using the acronym “FEEL”:
- Function: No clogged faucets
- Efficiency: Appliances are more energy efficient
- Extended Life: Appliances and plumbing last longer
- Look: Fixtures and appliances won’t tarnish or stain
Call Aqualite Today
The first step is to get a home water test done by a professional. Aqualite offers free at-home water testing, whether from a municipal supply or well. The test will take 10 minutes or less and identify potential problems and health risks your water may pose.
After the test, our helpful and friendly technicians will answer questions and provide recommendations and solutions tailored to your needs.