Understanding How Hard Water Affects Your Plumbing System

Ever had problems with mineral buildup in your sink or shower head? Maybe you’ve noticed that your laundry came out stiff and scratchy. You probably have hard water in your plumbing.

What is hard water and how does it affect your plumbing? Discover how hard water happens and what you can do about it.

What Is Hard Water?

Hard water can corrode pipes with rust and limescale

Hard water can corrode pipes with rust and limescale

Hard water contains high concentrations of minerals, particularly calcium and magnesium. These minerals come from rocks and soil and dissolve into the water as it flows through underground aquifers and into homes. The amount of dissolved minerals in the water determines how hard or soft it is. Water that contains less than 60 milligrams of dissolved minerals per litre is considered soft, while water that contains more than 120 milligrams per litre is considered hard.

Hard water is common in Canada. Ontario and Prairie have the highest water hardness level, exceeding 180mg/l Some areas of Ontario, particularly those near the Great Lakes, may have softer water due to the influence of surface water sources. However, other regions, such as those with a high prevalence of limestone bedrock, may have much harder water.

How Does Water Become Hard?

Water hardness is primarily caused by mineral compounds such as calcium and magnesium.

Water supplies usually source water from surface water or groundwater. Surface water comes from lakes, rivers, and other bodies of water and tends to be naturally softer than groundwater. Groundwater, on the other hand, is found in underground aquifers and becomes hard as water filters through the ground carrying the minerals as it passes through the mineral-rich soil.

How Can You Tell if You Have Hard Water?

You can tell if you have hard water by observing the signs it leaves behind. Here are some of the most obvious signs of hard water:

  • Soap scum and film – Hard water can leave a residue of soap scum on your skin, hair, and clothing. This can also be seen on shower doors, bathtubs, and sinks.
  • Stains – Hard water can stain surfaces like sinks, toilets, and shower walls. These stains are typically rust or brown.
  • Reduced water flow – Hard water can cause mineral buildup in pipes, reducing water flow over time.
  • Dry skin and hair – Hard water can be harsh on your skin and hair, leaving them feeling dry and your scalp itchy.
  • Poor lathering – Hard water can reduce the effectiveness of soaps and detergents, making it difficult to create a lather.
  • Mineral buildup – Hard water can leave mineral buildup on faucets, showerheads, and other fixtures.
  • Shortened appliance lifespan – Hard water can cause mineral buildup in appliances like dishwashers, washing machines, and water heaters, reducing lifespan and efficiency.

How Does Hard Water Affect Plumbing?

Hard water can damage pipes and appliances

Hard water can damage pipes and appliances

One of the most common issues associated with hard water is mineral buildup inside all plumbing pipes. Over time, the minerals accumulate on the inside of pipes, reducing water flow and eventually leading to problems. This can also result in reduced water pressure, which can cause damage to pipes and fixtures.

Hard water can also damage appliances like dishwashers, washing machines, and water heaters. Mineral buildup can reduce the efficiency of such appliances, resulting on increase energy consumption and utility bills. If the buildup is severe, it can break down the appliance and require repairs or replacement.

Another issue with hard water is that it can cause corrosion of plumbing materials like pipes and fixtures. The minerals in the water can react with metal pipes and fixtures, causing them to rust or corrode over time. This can lead to leaks and further damage to your plumbing system.

Solutions to Deal With Hard Water in Your Plumbing

There are several solutions to address the issue of hard water in your home. Understanding the options can ensure that your plumbing system is in good working order and improve water quality. Here are some common solutions to hard water:

  • Water Softeners – Water softeners are one of the most effective solutions to combat hard water. These systems remove the minerals that cause hardness, such as calcium and magnesium, through ion exchange. Water softeners require regular maintenance, such as adding salt to the system, but they can significantly reduce the negative effects of hard water on your plumbing and appliances.
  • Descalers – Descalers use electromagnetic waves or other methods to break up and dissolve the limescale mineral buildup in your plumbing system. They do not remove the minerals from the water but treat it as it flows through the pipes. Descalers are low maintenance and do not require salt or other chemicals.
  • Reverse Osmosis – Reverse osmosis is a water purification method that effectively removes dissolved minerals from water. This system pushes water through a semi-permeable membrane that filters out impurities, including minerals that cause hardness. However, reverse osmosis can be expensive and unnecessary for all households.
  • Magnetic Water Treatment – Magnetic water treatment involves installing a magnetic device onto your plumbing system to reduce the buildup of minerals. This method is low cost and low maintenance but may not be as effective as other options.
  • Filtered Water Pitchers – Filtered water pitchers can remove some of the minerals that cause hardness from your drinking water. While they may not be effective for addressing hard water issues on your plumbing and appliances, they can be a convenient and cost-effective solution for drinking water.


Knowing the effects of hard water on your plumbing system is essential to maintaining the health and longevity of your home’s infrastructure. Consulting with a plumbing professional can help determine the most effective solution for your household’s needs and budget. By addressing the issue of hard water, you can help ensure that your plumbing system and appliances remain in good working order for years to come.

Your plumbing is essential for the function of your home, so take care of it. When needing an expert plumber in Caledon, turn to Plumbing Authority Inc. We are available 24/7. Call us now at 647-992-PIPE (7473) or email us at plumbingauthoritygta@gmail.com for inquiries.