How Hard Water Wrecks Hot Water Heaters

One of the easiest ways to tell if your home has hard water is to boil a pot on the stove. If you see a white sediment or film on the side of the pot after the water boils out, you likely have hard water. The mineral content of hard water can get so high you may visibly see sediment floating in a glass of water. Sometimes, the only way to correct this problem is by installing a water softener system.

What Exactly is Hard Water?

Hard water essentially is water that has sediments of minerals in it, and commonly includes sediments of magnesium, calcium and other minerals. It is important to know if your home has hard water because this sediment can be problematic for your home’s pipes and water heater. The sediment in hard water coat the pipes. This is called scale, and it’s more problematic in your water heater because of the heated temperature of the water.

What Scale Does To Your Water Heater

Regardless of whether you have an electric or gas hot water heater installed in your home, scale ultimately decreases the efficiency of your unit. More specifically, scale decreases the ability of heat to transfer to the water. If the scale is left unchecked, your water heater will use more energy to heat the same amount of water.

If scale is left to accumulate long enough, it can even displace water in your tank. This means less hot water is stored inside your unit, and the amount of available hot water for your family to enjoy is reduced. More importantly, this problem can decrease the lifespan of your hot water heater and require you to pay for a replacement unit more quickly.

What You Can Do To Stop Scale

Unless you have a water softener system you’ll need to maintain your water heater regularly. To remove the accumulated scale and sediment, you will drain and flush the tank of your heater approximately every three to six months depending on how hard your water is. Always follow the instructions and manufacturers recommendations for this kind of maintenance. If you’re not experienced with working on plumbing, or feel a little squeamish about draining your water heater, you should call your local plumber, and let them take care of it.

Remove Minerals the Easy Way: Water Softener Systems

While removing the scale from your water heater is important, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. While you can take steps to remove scale and sediment from your hot water heater regularly, installing a water softener in your home will prevent the scale from accumulating in the first place.

Whether you choose to install a water softener in your home or regularly drain and flush the tank of your heater, you will need to do something about hard water and its effects on your hot water heater. This is why I highly recommend water softener systems. They require less maintenance and increase the lifespan and efficiency of your water heater. This means you save money on hardware as well as electricity.

Peter Wendt is a freelance writer from Austin, TX. He enjoys hiking, camping, and clean water. When he moved to the hill country, he’d never heard of artisian water–that is, until his hot water heater was destroyed by all of the sediment that built up over a few years. After draining a hot water heater for the first time, he decided to install a water softener system from American Water.

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