IT WOULDN'T BE A PROBLEM IF...
I like to tell people, “hard water wouldn't be a problem if the rocks wouldn’t fall back out!” However, they do. Several events make this happen: heat, pressure change, pH change. The first of the three listed obviously happens when water is being heated in your water heater. Many of the new tank less or “on-demand” style hot water heaters specifically advise reviewing your water quality and treatment for hard water. Some even say that untreated water will void their warranty.
The lesson here is to know what your current water quality is and read the fine print on any new heaters or appliances.
Cold water scaling takes place where water is released out of a faucet, nozzle, or other fixture and the pressure change causes a change in the pH. These two factors working together cause the formation of scale.
Have any utensils that look like this in your kitchen?
THE MONETARY COST OF HARD WATER
It is fairly easy to assess the cost of the damage caused by the shortened life of water heaters or appliances. Simply look at their prices new, ask your local store how long they typically last, and you can pretty much count on getting half of that life in hard water areas (depending on how hard the water and how much you use the water in the home). That is not a scientific number, just an educated guess after serving a lot of residential clients since 2011. Also note that lower cost fixtures, appliances, and heaters are not made to stand up to heavy duty use in hard water. So you want to make sure to count the cost and make sure that buying 2x of whichever item in 1/2 the time does not add up to more than the higher priced, higher quality products.
One of the costs you don't see readily is the increased energy cost that scale causes. Here is why...if you have an electric water heater, the heating elements inside will get scaled quickly in a hard water area. Scale will act as an insulator and the elements will work harder to raise the water temperature.
If you have a gas heater the heat will come from the bottom of the tank. As the calcium falls out and builds up on the bottom of the heater, it builds up like concrete. As this progresses your heater must heat up all those rocks before it can raise the water temperature.
A Department of Energy estimate estimates that just 1/10 of an inch of scale could decrease the effeciency of some equipment by as much as 20%. This can be significant over time!
HEALTH COST: SCALE AND BACTERIA
As scale accumulates inside of a water heater, it creates a food source for bacteria. I am not trying to scare you with this information as most city supplied water has MORE than enough disinfection products in it to reduce the levels of bacteria. However, one of the questions I always ask my residential clients is, "does anyone in the home seem to be suffering from unseasonable allergies...having irritations while breathing?"
If they are I ask them if they had ever considered the issue to be water borne from showering? Honestly, I would not have thought of that prior to experiencing the allergic reactions my wife was having after moving to a different state and onto a different supply of water. Doctors had no idea what to do and wanted to over-medicate her and sign her up for surgery! Fortunately we didn't go that route and we figured out upon reflecting that it must have been the water supply. This irritation may be from bacteria, or other water borne chemical contaminants that are found in municipal water. We had always been on private wells before. Now I am always sure to ask because I know what a negative impact it had on her and no one seemed to have an answer.
Time to make some choices. You may already have known your water was hard or you may want to do some research. If you are ready for a hard water solution, check out the Housetron. You can go here right now to download a checklist and quickly assess if you have hard water in your home:
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