How Hard Water Damages Your Plumbing

Hard water is a fact of life in Arizona, and it can cause a lot more problems than just cloudy spots on your dishes. Over time, hard water can have serious negative impacts on your plumbing, and leave you dealing with inefficiency, repairs, and frequent recurring issues. Many homeowners may not be aware of exactly how damaging hard water can be, which is why we’ve put together this guide to show you exactly how hard water damages your plumbing.

What is hard water?

Hard water refers to water with a high mineral content. These minerals most commonly include calciummagnesiumbicarbonates, and sulfates. The process of forming hard water begins underground. Groundwater in many areas comes in contact with limestone, where it picks up mineral deposits. When the water is routed into pipes for commercial and residential use, it maintains these mineral deposits unless it is filtered.

Water hardness is measured in GPG, or grains per gallon. This helps to evaluate the level of water hardness in a given area, and how it compares to the national average. Any value over 61 GPG is considered to be hard water. For example, research from the US Geological Survey shows that states in New England average a rating of 0-60 GPG. Central Arizona, including Phoenix, averages a rating of 61-120 GPG, indicating significantly hard water.

Frequent plumbing repairs and problems

The accumulation of minerals in hard water can impact your pipes, causing damage and even blockages. Over time, hard water causes pipes to corrode or even burst, creating a major plumbing emergency. Hard water also decreases the lifespan of plumbing fixtures and appliances, and increases the chances that you’ll have to replace them earlier than expected.

Water heater problems

Over time, sediment builds up in the bottom of a gas water heater’s tank. This can cause the heater to lose efficiency. Since Arizona has very hard water, sediment build up happens much faster than in other parts of the country. In electric heaters, limescale and sediment can build up on heating elements as well as the bottom of the tank. In both cases, this can lead to:

  • Reduced efficiency
  • Leaks
  • Corrosion
  • Higher utility bills
  • Reduced capacity
  • Reduced heater lifespan

To protect your water heater from the harmful effects of hard water, we recommend that you drain and flush the tank at least once a year. This can be completed on your own, or you can call a plumber for help.

Soap scum, mildew and water marks

Soap scum is the filmy white residue you can never quite scrub off your shower doors and is a major symptom of hard water. The minerals in hard water mix with the soap you use in your shower, and make it so some of the soap is left behind after rinsing. To reduce the formation of soap scum in the first place, switch from bar soap to a liquid or gel body wash.

If you leave soap scum alone for too long, it can continue to build-up and combine with mold and mildew causing some truly unpleasant odors. This is especially prevalent in the sink overflow, the small hole located underneath or across from your faucet, which can fail to drain correctly due to hard water. The soap scum that forms can produce smells that resemble sewer gas.

Shorter lifespan for pipes, appliances, and sewer systems

Hard water shortens the lifespan of many major appliances and systems in your home due to the amount of limescale and sediment buildup that occurs. Limescale on pipes can cause corrosion and blockages, which not only shortens the lifespan of the pipes but puts you in a position where you may have to pay for a costly repair.  Buildup in pipes can also result in an increase of water pressure, which can damage the entire sewer system and greatly increase the chances of a pipe bursting due to stress.

Higher utility bills

Due to mineral buildup caused by hard water, your water heater and plumbing system have to work harder to bring you the water you need. This leads to a faster rate of wear-and-tear as well as higher water and energy bills. Hard water can also make your washing machine less effective, leading you to use an extra rinse cycle, which wastes more water.

Hard water help: What you can do

The best way to address a hard water problem is with a whole-home filtration system. That way, mineral deposits and contaminants can be removed from the all the water that enters your home, and not just the water that come from specific faucets. At Chas Roberts, we specialize in installing whole-home water filters that use the following filtration methods. If you’re not sure which one is right for you, we can visit your home for a filtration assessment.

Particle filtration

Particle filtration removes traces of particles in water, including rust, sand, and clay. If you have well water, particle filtration can be helpful for removing sediments from the water.

Reverse Osmosis

To improve the taste of your hard tap water, Reverse Osmosis (RO) is a great solution. As one of the most popular water treatments in Phoenix, Reverse Osmosis uses a five-stage process to produce pure and great tasting tap water.


Distillation removes minerals, metals, and microorganisms from water. The distillation process kills potentially dangerous bacteria and leaves very few contaminants behind.

Ion exchange (water softening)

Ion exchange replaces the excess calcium ions in hard water with magnesium ions, softening the water with no adverse effects. This natural process can facilitate cleaner and better tasting tap water in your home.

Conquer hard water with Chas Roberts

Hard water can be difficult to deal with, but with help from the plumbing pros at Chas Roberts you can get rid of its ill effects for good. Our filtration solutions offer a range of options to improve the taste, smell, and hardness of your water. Contact us to get started with a water filtration assessment today.