3 Signs Hard Water Is Ruining Your Boise Home’s Plumbing

September 27, 2017

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All too often, we have customers call us with extensive pipe damage who end up having to completely repipe their home (which can cost up to $15,000 in the Boise area).

You see, Boise has “hard water”. And over time, hard water causes limescale buildup inside your home’s pipes that, if left untreated, can destroy them. 

Wondering if hard water is killing your home’s pipes? Check for these 3 signs:

  1. Gradual loss of water pressure
  2. Calcium deposits on faucets
  3. Frequent leaks in piping

We’ll explain these signs in more detail later on. But first, let’s take a quick look at what hard water is and how it can harm your home’s piping.

What is hard water and how can it harm my plumbing?

Hard water is basically water that has a higher amount of minerals (calcium and magnesium) than “soft water”. 

So how do minerals get into the water? Well, as rainwater falls from the sky it’s initially soft. But as it travels along the ground, it picks up minerals from rocks and soil. So when it comes to how hard your water is, it really just depends on where you live and the type of terrain in your area.

According to the USGS map below, Boise has hard water.

Boise is in a “white” area, meaning our water has 120-180 milligrams of “hardness” per liter of water. And, according to the USGS, this means our water is hard. Source

So what does that mean for your home’s plumbing? Well, over time, the dissolved calcium and magnesium in your water will settle and cling to any surface they come in contact with. And over time, this layer of dissolved minerals builds, creating a thick coat of “limescale”.

Eventually, that limescale will block your pipes completely or eat through them. And if you don’t spot the signs of trouble in time, you could end up having to replace your entire home’s plumbing.

So let’s look at some of the signs that hard water is attacking your pipes and what you should do if you spot them.

Sign #1: Gradual loss of water pressure

If you’ve noticed that your home’s shower, toilet, faucets, etc are slowly losing more and more water pressure over time, that could be limescale building up inside the pipes. That layer of limescale builds and slowly closes off water flow until it’s non-existent.

Here’s an example of what the inside of your pipes look like as limescale builds inside them.

What to do:

If you’ve noticed a gradual loss in water pressure, note the appliance(s) that seems to be suffering from water pressure loss. Then, have a professional plumber inspect those appliances

They’ll determine if the problem is actually limescale or not. If it is, they’ll recommend whether you need that pipe replaced or just professionally cleared.

Sign #2: Calcium deposits on faucets

Do your faucets or shower heads look like this?

If so, those are calcium deposits (a form of limescale) caused by hard water. And if the faucets look like this, you most likely have just as much, if not more, limescale building inside your pipes.

What to do:

To remove calcium deposits on faucets, you can remove the aerator (seen in the picture above) and soak it in vinegar for a few hours.

However, you’ll also want to have a professional inspect your pipes. They’ll determine if there’s excessive buildup inside the pipes that needs to be removed via drain clearing.

Sign #3: Pipe leaks

Limescale build up doesn’t always clog up pipes: sometimes, it can eat through them completely. And when that happens, small leaks appear in your pipes.

So keep an eye out for leaks in your home’s piping. We’re not saying that all pipe leaks are due to limescale build up, but yours could be (especially if you notice the other signs above).

What to do:

If you have a leak in a pipe, have a professional repair the leakinstead of trying to DIY

A professional can determine whether the clog was caused by limescale build up or not. From there, they can make a recommendation to protect other pipes from future limescale build up.

See the signs? Have a Boise plumber inspect your plumbing

If you think hard water might be negatively affecting your home’s plumbing, contact us.

We can inspect your home’s piping and give you professional solutions that will protect your plumbing.

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