10 Problems with Hard Water: Hard Water vs Soft Water

10 Problems With Hard Water

Do you have a hard water supply at home? If you’re not sure what it is or are unaware of it, you may be surprised to know this issue can be identified by scale buildup or rusting. Have you ever thought about the problems hard water can cause?

The top 10 problems with hard water are:

  1. Scale buildup on appliances and fixtures.
  2. Reduced lifespan of appliances.
  3. Dirty and spotted dishes.
  4. Difficulty cleaning.
  5. Excess use of detergents and soaps.
  6. Irritated dry skin and hair.
  7. Unpleasant water taste and smell.
  8. Fading clothes and laundry.
  9. Frequent plumbing repairs.
  10. Increased water bills.

While having some minerals in tap water is okay, a high mineral content can be a major problem. Hard water can cause some significant issues for homeowners. Without further ado, let’s have a look at these problems!

Learn more about hard water in my article on hard water.

10 Common Problems with Hard Water

Hard water does not pose a health risk but brings other issues. Here are ten of the biggest problems hard water creates:

1. Scale Buildup on Appliances and Fixtures

One of the most common issues with hard water is a scale or mineral buildup on your fixtures or appliances. If your tap water is hard, you may notice mineral deposits developing on the showerheads, faucets, and appliances.

When hard water evaporates, it leaves behind calcium and magnesium deposits on the surface. Over time this keeps building up and forms a white film.

Other than looking unpleasant, this scale buildup may add a foul taste to the water you drink.

2. Reduced Lifespan of Appliances

The buildup of minerals on floors, faucets, etc., may be visible to the eye, but sometimes it can form in areas you’re unable to see—for example, the dishwasher, pipes, or the water heater.

The minerals in hard water corrode your appliances and reduce their lifespan by almost 30 to 50%. You will need to replace your appliances much earlier with a reduced lifespan.

The table below shows the impact of hard water on common appliances.

Appliance Average Lifespan (Years) Lifespan With Hard Water (Years)
Electric Water Heater 13 6.5
Dishwasher 10 7
Gas Water Heater 11 5.5
Washing Machine 11 7.7
Faucets 9 5.4
Toilet 6.5 2


3. Dirty and Spotted Dishes

Hard water is also responsible for giving your dishes that dirty and unclean look you notice when they come out of the dishwasher.

You may mistake these spots for leftover food. However, they are a mixture of mineral deposits and soap that remains after using hard water.

4. Difficulty Cleaning

Cleaning is no longer easy if you have hard water in your home. Any sink, bathtub, or dishes that come in contact with hard water become very hard to clean.

Hard water leaves scale deposits on these surfaces, so you will need extra effort to eliminate them.

Other than your dishware, doors and shower walls also develop a thick residue coat of minerals and soap.

5. Excess Use of Detergents and Soaps and Soap Scum

If you have hard water in your home, you will notice that your detergents aren’t as effective as they should be.

Hard water contains minerals that prevent soaps and detergents from blending and forming foam or lather. As a result, you may want to add some extra soap to clean your dishes and laundry!

Homeowners, therefore, often purchase expensive cleaning agents and chemicals to clean their dishware if they’re using hard water.

6. Irritated Dry Skin and Hair

Besides fixtures, appliances, and dishware, hard water can cause problems for your hair and skin.

Mineral deposits left on your skin leave the skin dry and cause irritation and itchiness. People with eczema are more likely to face the adverse effects of hard water.

The mineral deposits, that hard water leaves in your hair, dull the hair’s natural shine. The damage worsens as these minerals block the hair shafts causing them to dry out.

Read my article about the signs of hard water on your hair.

7. Unpleasant Water Taste and Smell

Apart from the damage it can cause, hard water often smells and tastes very unpleasant. You will notice a metallic smell from your water if there’s a high amount of iron.

Also, as magnesium in water reacts with other bacteria, it can produce a foul rotten egg smell.

How your water smells and tastes depends on the combination and concentration of minerals. Overall, hard water doesn’t taste or smell nice! A water softener can improve the taste of your drinking water.

8. Fading Clothes and Laundry

Minerals like magnesium and calcium in hard water react with your laundry detergent, impacting its effectiveness.

Moreover, hard water strips away your clothes’ colors more quickly than usual. Hard water also leaves rusty and chalky stains on clothes, making the fabric scratchy and stiff.

9. Frequent Plumbing Repairs

Steel pipes aren’t very good at handling hard water. The minerals present in hard water can easily damage these pipes as the water flows through them.

Over time, these pipes may corrode or rust. So, you will then need to reach out to your plumber for a pipe change or repair. Hard water can increase the need for plumbing repairs.

10. Increased Water Bills

Besides frequent repairs, you may also notice an increase in your water bills if you use hard water. Your plumbing system will need to work harder to allow water flow because of the mineral buildup in the pipes.

That can easily result in problems like cracked pipes and leaks. Even a tiny leak can waste gallons of water over the year, giving you higher water bills.

Hard Water vs Soft Water

When it comes to water quality, one of the most significant factors to consider is water hardness, which is determined by the amount of dissolved minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, in the water. Soft water has low mineral content, while hard water has high mineral content.

While hard water is not harmful to drink, it can cause a range of problems around the home. Hard water problems include soap scum buildup, reduced water pressure, clogged pipes, and decreased lifespan of water heaters and other appliances that use water. Soap scum can also make cleaning more difficult, and it can cause skin irritation and hair damage.

On the other hand, soft water does not have the same issues that hard water does. Soap lathers better in soft water, which can help improve cleaning effectiveness. Soft water also helps reduce the buildup of minerals in pipes and appliances, which can help prolong their lifespan.

There are different ways to treat hard water, such as using water softeners, which remove the minerals that cause hardness. Water softeners use a process called ion exchange to replace the calcium and magnesium ions with sodium or potassium ions. Water softeners can be installed in the home, or there are water softener services that provide regular maintenance and testing.

In terms of taste, some people prefer the taste of soft water, while others prefer the taste of hard water. Taste is subjective and can vary depending on the mineral content of the water.

Overall, it is important to understand the hardness of your water and the potential problems it can cause. Testing your water hardness can help you determine whether you need a water softener or other water treatment and filtration solutions to improve your home water quality.

FAQS – Home Water Questions

Does hard water affect your skin?

Hard water can cause dryness in your skin, leaving it tight andirritated. Moreover, hard water may worsen conditions like eczema, sensitive skin and psoriasis.

Can hard water damage hair?

Hard water contains many minerals that adds a layer of film on the hair, making it hard for moisture to reach inside. As a result, your hair can become dry. Hard water is known to cause brittle hair, breakage, and hair loss.

Final Thoughts on Hard Drinking Water

From your skin and hair to your pipes and appliances, hard water can negatively affect anything and everything it touches.

If you face the above problems, you may have hard water running in your taps. In that case, find a quick solution because you may be spending much more on repairs and replacements than you think!

The Filter Guy

Scott Birch is a water filtration installer and designer. He has worked in the industry for many years and is very familiar with and knowledgeable about residential water treatment equipment. Scott enjoys helping people get the most out of their water filtration systems and ensuring that their homes are getting the best possible quality of water.

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