What Is Hard Water? (Demo)

Hard Water

How Can It Affect Your Home?

Hard water can be a pain when you’re trying to wash your hands. But it does much more serious damage where you can’t see it.

Depending on where you live you may have what’s known as “hard water.” Hard water is heavy in minerals and can be very destructive to pipes and water heaters, leading to costly repairs. However, there are ways to minimize the effects of hard water and some water heaters handle it better than others. Here is our complete guide to hard water.

How To Know You Have Hard Water

Hard water is water that contains three dissolved minerals: calcium, magnesium and manganese. All water has traces of these minerals, but it becomes “hard” when levels go above three grains per gallon (51 parts per million). Your water can be tested for these minerals, but in most cases you won’t need to. You’ll notice the effects for yourself, including:

  • Soap will not “suds up” and reduced foaming/cleaning power from detergents
  • Soap scum in sinks and bathtub rings in tubs
  • Spots on clean dishes and shower doors
  • Clothes require extra rinsing or look dingy after being washed

Why Hard Water is Bad

Besides the effects listed above, hard water can cause serious problems. The most well-known problem is that it clogs pipes. That’s because the minerals in hard water have a tendency to collect on the inside of pipes build up, and lead to damage and clogging. (Faucets and other fixtures can also be affected).

Another serious problem from hard water is that it decreases the efficiency of water heaters. Because they can start to clog up from mineral buildup, they have to work much harder to heat water and thus use more energy. The result is higher energy bills month after month. Hard water can also damage and destroy heaters altogether.

Solving Hard Water

Fortunately, there are solutions to hard water. The most common solution is to “soften” it. This is done with an “ion exchanging” water softener unit which should be installed at or near where your water supply first enters the home. The unit contains salts that “soften” the water (counteracting the “hardening” minerals) and prevent or reduce the effects of hard water. There are several types of ion water softener, but all of them work well as long as the instructions are followed.

Note that water softeners attached to faucets are not a good idea, because they may make it easier to get soap to foam up, but they do not prevent damage to pipes.

How Tankless Heaters Can Help with Hard Water Deposits

These days more homeowners are choosing tankless water heaters, since they are far more efficient than traditional water heaters. But how well do these units work when you have hard water?

The results are generally positive. Any device that handles water can become clogged by hard water. Although tankless heaters are not immune to clogs, they have a lot going for them. For one thing, since minerals in the water tend to clump together when heated, tankless heaters spend a lot less time heating water, and only do so when hot water is needed. Hot water in a traditional heater sits in the tank, getting plenty of time to build up on the tank walls as a tankless water heater, flushes through as soon as it is heated. Tankless water heaters, like all water heaters, should be cleaned regularly. If that is done, then they outlast traditional heaters substantially, even with hard water.

The Noritz tankless water heater product line can help you fight hard water where it matters the most.

See our current line of products here.