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Clogged Pipe in a Commercial Building in San Jose, CA


The above photo shows what happens to a pipe that is exposed to hard water over a period of time.  Depending on the level of hardness minerals in the water, this clog could have developed in six to ten years, depending on the hardness of the water.

Water hardness is measured by the level of certain minerals—primarily calcium and magnesium—found in tap water, whether sourced from the city or a well.  Hard water minerals build up and cause spots on dishes, sink and shower fixtures, tubs, toilets, and dishwashers.  It causes poor soap lathering as well, so you need to use more soap in order to get something clean.  Over time, it clogs pipes, like the one above, and can lead to low water pressure and eventual blockage.

The unit for measuring water hardness if grains per gallon or GPG.  The Water Quality Association (WQA) measures hardness in the following table:



So, what to do?  A 2009 study commissioned by the Water Quality Research Foundation (WQRF) found that adding a water softener helps water heaters and major appliances operate as efficiently as possible, while preventing clogs in showerheads, faucets, drains, and pipes.


Water heaters are particularly vulnerable to the devastating effects of hard water.  This same study stated that water heaters using soft water maintained their original factory efficiency rating for as long as 15 years, while hard water cut efficiency by up to 48 percent.  In fact, some tankless water heaters using hard water failed after just 18 months.  Hard water minerals in pipes increase the amount of energy needed to heat the water in a water heater.  The harder the water, the more energy is required to heat.

In short, soft water can save money by keeping appliances operating at optimal efficiency, making them last longer.  With soft water, less energy is required to heat water. With soft water, less dish and laundry detergent and other cleaning agents are required.  Clothes can get clean even in cold water.

Save appliances, save money, save the environment.  # #