You may have heard the term “hard water” before, even if you don’t know exactly what it refers to. But hard water is the reason that your water heater needs routine professional maintenance!
Why? Because hard water is water with a high level of minerals in it that turns into something called scaling, which can have a detrimental effect on the inside of your water heater tank, not to mention your whole entire plumbing system.
Scaling is a build-up of the minerals calcium, magnesium, and sometimes iron. You may see a chalky white or yellowish buildup around your faucets and drain openings–this is scaling. It’s easy enough to clean up from your sinks and bathtub, but imagine that building up inside your water heater.
Read on to learn more about this issue, and to learn just why it’s so important to have professional water heater maintenance done once a year.
Deposits Get Left Behind
The mineral deposits that get left behind due to hard water aren’t able to drain away as easily as water. And these minerals make it harder for soap to break down too, so you’re more likely to see soap scum buildup. All of this clings to the metal surface of your drain openings and pipes, as well as the inside of your water heater.
Scaling Does Damage
Scaling has a negative impact on your water heater for a number of reasons. For one, mineral buildup can collect in the pipes that lead in and out of your water heater, blocking water from moving through if the scaling gets thick enough.
Scaling also damages the interior lining of the tank, making it hard to heat water evenly. Pressure levels in the tank become unbalanced, and efficiency is decreased overall. The worst part of all of this is that the mineral buildup can rattle around inside the water heater tank and lead to corrosion.
Notice the Signs of Scaling
Perhaps the most obvious sign of scaling impacting your water heater is the noise it makes as it rattles throughout the water heater tank. This noise is typically described as a popping or knocking sound. This occurs as steam bubbles try to escape past the layer of sediment that has formed at the bottom of the tank.
Scaling can also affect the temperature of the water in the heater. This is actually even more important if you have a tankless water heater since the mineral deposits can coat the heat exchangers and make it more difficult for them to do their job. You might also discover low hot water pressure if scaling clogs up the pipes that lead out of your water heater.
What You Can Do
The best defense against hard water and the subsequent scaling that can occur from it is preventing it, to begin with. And you can do that with the installation of a whole-house water softener. And then of course the other way to prevent it is to be diligent about water heater maintenance!