5 Common Hard Water Buildup Plumbing Issues

Oct 23, 2019 | Plumbing Advice

Did you know that hard water buildup can cause plumbing issues? When you move into a home with the appliances in place, you expect a house that performs to specifications. The water heater ensures that you always have a hot shower or bath waiting for you. The dishwasher saves you the trouble of hand-scrubbing, rinsing, and drying your dishes. The washer-dryer saves you hours of work every week, either hand-washing or laundromat-ing your clothes.

Hard Water Buildup Plumbing Issues Shower Head Buildup

But what happens when those basic technological luxuries start to fail on you for no apparent reason? Your showers are weak and unsatisfying. Your clothes smell like you didn’t even wash them. Your pipes and drains don’t act the way they should. This isn’t some water-related poltergeist trying to scare you out of the home. Chances are, you’re just dealing with hard water. While water in the New York area is traditionally soft, some regions run surprisingly hard water that could be negatively affecting your pipes, appliances, and home experience.

Today, we’re here to highlight five different household problems that seem unrelated until you realize that hard water is the underlying cause for everyone.

Shower Heads & Sprinkler Heads Stop Working

You know what it looks like when you see it, but you don’t know the cause. A showerhead that sputters and slowly loses it’s initial power and comfort over time. You may have a sprinkler head that seems to be closing its holes despite your best efforts to keep it clean and well-placed. Both of these problems are caused by the same source: Scale from hard water.

Hard water is water that has extra chalky minerals in it, like magnesium and calcium. Sounds healthy, right? In hard water, these minerals go way above and beyond, leaving a chalky residue on everything your water touches. For any fixture that has small holes to distribute water in a spray (like your shower head or sprinkler), that scale can clog the holes over time and eventually render your fixtures completely non-functional.

Sour-Smelling Clothing

Your clothes come out of the dryer, and they should be soft and fluffy, but they’re not. Instead, you can smell that awful lingering sour smell even though they didn’t sit in the washer for very long. And on touching your clothes, they may feel stiff or even crunchy like someone washed them with starch instead of detergent. The cause? You guessed it: It’s scale again.

When that chalky water residue gets on your clothes in the washing machine, it can fill up the fibers the same way it fills the holes in your shower head. It stays like starch and doesn’t wash away, reducing the effectiveness of detergent even to the point of preventing detergent from washing your clothes. Over time, clothes washed in very hard water get scratchy and sour instead of soft and fresh.

Persistent Toilet & Drain Clogs

Clogs are also a hallmark of a home running hard water. That chalky residue doesn’t stop in your shower head or washing machine. It also leaves a little bit of itself behind every time it passes through a pipe. This can cause buildup inside your pipes that eventually grows into a clog. So if your toilets and drains are constantly clogging and you live in a mineral-rich area, chances are you’re fighting hard water as much as you’re fighting clumps of cooking grease and vegetable peels.

Decreasing Water Pressure Over Time

That buildup in the pipes isn’t even limited to the normal side where we see clogs occur. Scale can also build up inside your supply pipes, the ones that lead from the city to your house, and then your water main to the faucets. Scale clogs in these pipes can result in water pressure that slowly drops over time as less and less water can get through the pipes to your taps. If you’re experiencing far lower water pressure than is appropriate for your home, hard water can be the cause.

Dishes With Residue Fresh from the Dishwasher

Finally, we come to the one sure-fire way to know if your taps are running hard water and if it’s becoming a problem. Clear drinking glasses show spots when there is any water residue left on them at all, and hard water is notorious for leaving those spots on your dishes. Hard water can even reduce the effectiveness of your dish detergent, meaning that even spot-resistant dishes may still be crusty with food when the dishwasher is done.

To run an undeniable test, simply run your dishwasher without the rinse aid you usually use. Are the clear drinking glasses spotty with pale white-beige chalky marks? That is scale, and it’s reducing the efficiency of your dishwasher every time it runs.

Is your home blighted with the poltergeist of hard water, reducing your comfort of living despite having all the modern conveniences? You’re not alone. Millions of Americans today live with hard water. They don’t even realize that their quality of life is being impacted by a constant patina of crusty water residue in their pipes and on their possessions. The good news is that the problem is also easy to solve with a variety of water-softening solutions. For information on how to maintain your NYC pipes and plumbing by whatever means necessary, contact Aladdin Plumbing today!

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