Are you having problems with hard water and mineral buildup? Water is typically categorized as either soft or hard. Hard water, which contains a significant amount of dissolved minerals, can lead to the accumulation of mineral deposits. If you have hard water, you may start to notice a buildup of white scale on your faucets and showers, and your clothes and dishes may be more difficult to clean. Soft water, on the other hand, has fewer dissolved minerals. Many property managers, renters, condo owners, and homeowners prefer soft water over hard water because it minimizes buildup on surfaces, improves the effectiveness of soaps and detergents, and prevents premature damage to pipes and appliances. Let’s take a closer look at what hard water is, how to identify it, and explore ways to protect your pipes from mineral buildup.

What Is Hard Water?

At its most basic, hard water is water that has a lot of dissolved minerals, meaning there’s more than just H2O in the liquid. In most cases, those dissolved minerals include calcium, magnesium, and potassium. However, hard water may also contain traces of copper, iron, and brass. When these minerals build up inside your pipes and on your faucets and showerheads, it’s typically referred to as limescale, which is a chalky, white deposit that consists primarily of calcium carbonate. This residue is often unsightly and hard to clean.

Why Is Hard Water Bad for Plumbing Pipes?

Hard water poses a threat to plumbing pipes due to its propensity for scale formation. As hard water flows through the pipes in your Chicago building, it leaves behind traces of dissolved minerals. Over time, these mineral deposits can accumulate, create mineral buildup, and clog the pipes. In severe cases, the buildup restricts water flow, leading to increased pressure within the pipe. This combination of restricted flow and high pressure can result in cracks and breaks in the pipes.

If your building has copper or galvanized steel pipes, the reaction between the water and the pipe material can cause corrosion. Corrosion weakens the pipe walls, reduces their expected lifespan, and increases the likelihood of pinhole leaks and cracks.

How Can I Tell if My Chicago Building Has Hard Water?

In order to definitively determine if your Chicago building has hard water, you can have it tested. There are plenty of water testing kits on the market that tests for water hardness, bacteria, lead, nitrates, nitrites, chlorine, and pH. However, if you’re only concerned about hard water, you can simply look around your building.

Buildings that have hard water often have white stains or a chalky-looking substance on the sink faucets and shower heads. The white chalky substance is what’s left behind when the water dries, so anywhere where water dries in place is a good place to check.

You can also listen to your janitorial staff or cleaning crew. If your building’s water is extremely hard, they may be spending a long time scrubbing faucets and removing soap scum from showers and baths, and they may make comments about it.

Your residents may also be putting in more tickets than anticipated for their dishwashers and the laundry room. This is because hard water doesn’t clean as well as soft water. Dishes may be left with white spots. The laundry may still appear to be dirty, or the colors may appear dull. The reason for this is that the soap doesn’t lather as well. Instead, the soap mixes with the water and forms soap curds. It’s called soap scum. They form when the soap interacts with the minerals in the water, and it does not easily dissolve. Instead, it tends to get stuck in the fibers of the clothing, and it can act as a barrier to proper cleaning and rinsing.

How Can I Protect My Pipes Against Hard Water and Mineral Buildup?

While hard water is safe to drink and provides valuable minerals, it’s also a nuisance for your plumbing system and water-using appliances. Drain pipes are slightly easier to descale than potable water pipes. If you’re looking for a short-term solution, running a calcium, lime, and rust remover down your drain lines can help remove some of the buildup. However, potable water pipes can’t be treated with chemicals because it could make the water unsafe to drink. Instead, you’ll need a long-term solution that removes the mineral deposits from the water.

  • Water Softeners – Water softeners are often the go-to choice for softening hard water. These systems remove excess minerals and can improve the color, taste, and effectiveness of your water while nearly eliminating scale. However, these systems often use salt, so individuals who are sensitive to salt may not want to drink it.
  • Pex Pipes – Pex pipes are made out of a type of plastic and are resistant to lime scale buildup, which can help improve the longevity of your plumbing systems. It’s important to note that PEX pipes don’t remove minerals, so appliances will still be affected.
  • Reverse Osmosis Systems – Newer technology has made reverse osmosis systems more affordable and effective. These systems can remove many different types of contaminants, including lead, bacteria, sediment, and pesticides.
  • Sediment Filters – Installing a sediment filter can help remove unwanted particles from your potable water, including rust, dirt, and dust.
  • Epoxy Pipelining – Epoxy pipelining can help keep your potable water and drain lines clean and free of scale build-up. Since the surfaces are smooth and the material doesn’t interact with the water, scale doesn’t tend to build up as readily on the insides of your plumbing pipes. It also extends the useful lives of your existing pipes and doesn’t involve ripping out your current plumbing system and replacing it. This is an option for buildings when they want minimal disruption and an effective solution that doesn’t create a lot of mess or the need to hire additional contractors to repair holes in walls, ceilings, and floors.

Hard Water Quick Tips

  • Hard water occurs when there are an excessive amount of dissolved minerals in the potable water.
  • Hard water is denoted by the presence of grains, often depicted as grains-per-gallon (GPG)
    • Soft water is any water that has less than 3.5 grains-per-gallon
    • Moderately hard water has between 3.5 and 7 GPG
    • Hard water has 7 to 10 GPG
    • Very hard water has more than 10 GPG
  • Hard water can make it difficult to clean surfaces and get dishes and laundry clean.
  • Hard water leaves a white film if it’s left to dry in place.
  • Limescale buildup from hard water can restrict water flow through pipes and lead to cracks and breaks.
  • Limescale buildup can reduce the expected useful life of water-using appliances, including washers, dishwashers, and ice makers.
  • Lessening the impact of hard water can be accomplished by installing a water softener, reverse osmosis system, or with a sediment filter.
  • Having your pipes lined with epoxy can help prevent scale buildup and extend the useful lives of your plumbing pipes.

How Can NuFlow’s Pipelining Help Protect My Pipes from Hard Water and Mineral Buildup?

Epoxy pipelining can make it harder for the mineral buildup to attach itself to the interior walls of your plumbing pipes. The water also doesn’t interact with the epoxy pipelining, so it removes the possibility of pipe corrosion that can lead to pinhole leaks, cracks, and breaks. It also helps prevent chemical leeching from your plumbing pipes into your potable water.

If you’re interested in having your pipes lined with epoxy in order to prevent chemical leeching and limescale buildup while extending the useful lives of your current plumbing pipes, we’d love to talk to you. Epoxy pipelining is a great solution for all types of buildings, including condos, apartment buildings, public venues, municipal buildings, and even historic buildings.

To learn more about epoxy pipelining, don’t hesitate to contact us.