Learn Why Hard Water Is Bad For Your Appliances (and save money!)

Hard water kills appliances

Hard Water costs you money by ruining your home's appliances and fixtures.

Hard water is a problem that, although it does not impact your health, can cost you thousands of dollars over a lifetime of home ownership. Hard water is caused primarily by elevated levels of calcium and magnesium along with other dissolved solids that are present in your well water.

Hard water is a nuisance. It can cause deposits on plumbing fixtures, spots on dishes and glassware, cut the effectiveness of detergents and soap when washing clothes, and showering. And in extreme cases, over time, cause scaling which restricts the water flow into your home's plumbing system.

Where hard water can cause severe damage that often goes unnoticed, and cost you serious money is with your home's appliances. Deposits can shorten the life of appliances significantly causing you to have to replace or repair them more frequently than in a home without hard water. Any appliance that uses water, from your water heater to your coffee maker can be affected.

How Hard Water Ruins Appliances

Calcium and Magnesium cause scale build-up and mineral deposits which can clog your home's plumbing. It can also cause damage over time to water-consuming appliances wearing the down and making them less efficient, and more expensive to operate over time. They become less and less effective and eventually fail, requiring replacement.

In 2009 the Water Quality Association (WQA) commissioned a study to determine exactly what the impact of hard water is on typical household appliances and fixtures. The results were a bit shocking.

Some of the results were:

  • Washing Machine - Expected life 11 years  - Expected life using hard water 7.7 years
  • Dishwasher - Expected life 10 years  - Expected life using hard water 7 years
  • Toilet - Expected life 6.5 yearsExpected life using hard water 2 years
  • Faucet - Expected life 9 yearsExpected life using hard water 5.4 years

As you can see, hard water can cut the life of appliances and fixtures significantly, over 60% in the case of toilets! In general, hard water takes years off the life of appliances like dishwashers and washing machines which are expensive to repair or replace.

The Water Quality Association "WQA" study also found that with soft water, appliances use less soap and can be run at lower temperatures, saving you money on energy and consumables costs. In fact, detergent use dropped by 50% in washing machines and 70% in dishwashers using soft water. These are significant savings over the expected life of your appliances.

Hard Water and High-Efficiency Appliances

As we become, more environmentally conscious many of us are opting to buy high-efficiency appliances which can save money over the long run and reduce our energy consumption. However, high-efficiency appliances can have a considerable up-front cost.

If hard water is being run through these appliances, the efficiency decreases significantly over a relatively short period. That means you may not be getting the savings that you expected when you bought them. In fact, if you read the fine print, many manufacturers of high-efficiency appliances will void the warranty if hard water is run through the machines.

The Most Expensive Problem Caused by Hard Water

The Department if Energy estimates that heating water is second only to heating your home when it comes to energy use. In fact, water heating can account for between 14% and 25% of your home's energy costs annually. The effects of hard water impact gas, electric, and tankless water heaters cutting efficiency by as much as 48% and shortening the lifespan of units by years. In fact, tankless water heaters that were tested failed after just 1.6 years.

Fixing Hard Water Problems

The good news is that hard water issues can be eliminated by installing a whole house water treatment system. The cost of the system can pay for itself relatively quickly by extending the life of your plumbing, fixtures, and appliances. Skillings & Sons have been helping New Hampshire, and Massachusetts homeowners diagnose and treat their home's well water for over 40 years. If you have any questions about the quality of your well water or are thinking of addition a treatment system, give us a call! We're always here to help.

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