Perhaps you’ve heard the term “hard water” before. It may sound a little alarming in regard to your water quality, but it’s actually okay–for you that is. It’s another story when it comes to your plumbing system.
Hard water is water with a high level of minerals in it. Namely, we mean calcium and magnesium, and sometimes even a bit of iron. But like we said, while these are harmless to you, we can’t say the same for your pipes and plumbing appliances.
Scaling–or the deposits that get left behind from hard water–will impact your water heater worse than any other part of your plumbing system. While it’s relatively easy to clean scale out of a faucet, the same can’t be said when it comes to your tank water heater.
How Do Deposits Get Left Behind?
Have you ever discovered flaky residue, usually white or yellowish in color, developing around your faucet handles or your drains? This is the result of scaling created by deposits that get left behind due to hard water. These minerals simply don’t drain away as easily as water, clinging to a metal surface even as water rushes through.
This is how mineral deposits get stuck in your pipes, which includes those leading into and out of your water heater, and at the bottom of your water heater tank.
How Scaling Does Damage
Scaling negatively impacts your water heater in a variety of ways. For instance, mineral buildup will develop in the pipes and effectively block water from moving through if the scaling is thick enough.
Scaling also damages the tank of water heaters. Minerals develop at the bottom of the water heater tank, making it hard to heat water evenly. Pressure levels in the tank become unbalanced and efficiency is decreased overall. The worst part of this is that the minerals rattle around and subsequently accelerate corrosion.
The Signs of Scaling
Maybe the most apparent sign of scaling affecting your water heater is the noise it makes when it rattles throughout the tank. This sound is usually described as a knocking or popping. This happens as steam bubbles attempt to escape past the layer of sediment at the bottom of the tank.
Scaling can also impact the temperature of the water in the heater. This is actually even more true with a tankless water heater since the deposits can coat the heat exchangers and make it harder for them to do their job. You may also discover low hot water pressure if scaling has clogged up the pipes that lead out of your water heater.
“What Should I Do?”
The best fight against hard water and the subsequent scaling that occurs from it is prevention. Prevent hard water mineral buildup by having a whole-house water softener installed. Another way to prevent problems with your water heater is by scheduling routine plumbing and water heater maintenance.