Hard water shortens the life of your water-using appliances, pipes, and plumbing fixtures (like faucets), increasing the chances of having devastating water damage to your home. Because you can’t see the damaging effects of hard water until a leak or flood occurs, the key is taking the proper steps to prevent the damage caused by hard water.
Hard Water for Dummies
Here in south Florida, the water is extremely hard, meaning it has one of the highest concentrations in the country of the dissolved minerals calcium, magnesium, and manganese and lets not forget other chemicals used in treating the water supplied by the processing plant! As soon as untreated hard water runs through your pipes, the calcium crystallizes. The crystals adhere to one another and to pipe and appliance surfaces, immediately producing damaging limescale buildups. This is especially true where there is heat. Limescale is highly conducive to rust, which leads to corrosion, which leads to devastating water damage. Limescale buildups not only reduce the efficiency of your water-using appliances but, worse, damage them and your pipes, severely reduce their longevity, and put you at risk for severe water damage from a compromised appliance or pipe fitting.
• Limescale buildup in pipes and valves, especially where hot water runs or collects, causes pipes and valves to rust, corrode, clog, and leak.
• Limescale buildup in plumbing fixtures like faucets, causes them to calcify and leak.
• Limescale buildup in the hoses of washing machines causes the hoses to leak.
• Limescale buildup in hot water heaters causes them to rust and leak.
Inherent in all of these problems is the potential for devastating water damage to your home.
An Ounce of Prevention
Hot water heaters can be one of the most damaging appliances in your home. Some hot water heaters that last up to 25 years in another locale will last only a couple of years in Pompano Beach or Ft. Lauderdale.
A tell-tale sign of a failing hot water heater is a puddle of water underneath the hot water heater, indicating a slow leak, or rusted or corroded fittings on the top of the heater. Because water heaters are under pressure, a small or slow leak can quickly flood your home.
Luckily, there are a few ways you can increase the longevity of your water heater, along with your other water-using appliances and your pipes, and thereby prevent water damage from a leaking hot water heater or other water-using appliance.
• Install a water-softening unit on your plumbing system to treat hard water. This can drastically extend the life of your hot water heater, your pipes, and your other water-using appliances. Water softeners remove calcium and magnesium ions from the water, thus removing the potential for limescale buildups.
• Install an expansion tank on your hot water heater.
• Install a PRV (pressure regulating valve), especially if you have very high water pressure, above 90 PSI. High water pressure can cause your hot water heater to fail prematurely.
• Flush (drain) your hot water heater annually, which helps prevent sediment buildup.
• If your hot water heater is installed in a closet or attic instead of in a basement or utility room, install a pan with a threaded valve, made especially for a water heater, so that you can route the water to an outside drain.
• Install a water-detection system on the hot water heater, which automatically shuts off the appliance when the sensor detects moisture where there should be none. Many of these sensors sound an alarm and can be connected to home alarm and automation systems.
• Install a whole-house water detection system, which shuts off the water supply to any water-using appliance when the sensor detects moisture where there should be none.
• Turn off your water heater and its water supply during extended absences.
• Turn off the main water supply during extended absences
If you do become a victim of the ravages of hard water, call on the professional experts at Flood & Fire Restoration to restore your home and assist you in preventing future damage.