Most of us have found ourselves thinking that things just aren’t made like they used to be. You’re likely to have found yourself longing for the appliances of old when your washing machine dies after only a few years, or your dishwasher keeps breaking down. While no appliance will last forever, there is something that could be taking a toll on your appliances; hard water. 

Hard Water and Appliances 

While magnesium and calcium are vital for healthy bones, they can create massive problems for your water using appliances. The presence of these minerals determines the water hardness levels and they are responsible for mineral deposits or scale accumulation.  

Hard water scale causes clogged plumbing, and it can trigger damage to water using appliances, causing them to become less and less effective over time. When scale accumulates around the heating element, the heat cannot be effectively conducted, so the appliance is forced to work harder and harder to create the desired water temperature. This can affect washing machines, water heaters, dishwashers and any other appliance that heats water. Since the appliance is forced to work harder, it creates additional strain that can lead to cascade failures that compromise the lifespan of the appliance.  

In a 2009 study commissioned by the Water Quality Association, the researchers found that hard water can significantly reduce the lifespan of an appliance. For example, washing machines with an expected lifespan of 11 years will last 7.7 years on average, while a faucet with a 9 year life expectancy will only last 5.4 years.  

Impacting Efficiency 

In addition to compromising the lifespan of your appliances, hard water can also create further costs in increased energy consumption and detergent use. The WQA research found that appliances using soft water used less detergent and soap. Additionally, soft water allows effective cleaning at lower temperatures. With soft water, detergent use can be dropped in washing machines by 50% and save up to 70% on detergent in your dishwasher. 

In softened water, the research team found washing machines could drop the water temperature from 100 degrees to 60 degrees and still offer tough stain removal. Depending on the stain, eliminating water hardness could immediately improve removal.  

The Impact of Hard Water on Your Water Heater 

One of the most costly hard water issues relates to your water heater. According to Department of Energy research, heating water could be as high as 25% of household energy costs. This means that water heating is the second largest energy expense, second only to heating your home. Unfortunately, hard water can take a massive toll on your water heater. Hard water cuts the efficiency of water heaters by as much as 48%. The scale build up inside a water heater shortens the lifespan of the heating element. Some tankless water heaters supplied with hard water have been shown to fail after only 1.6 years.  

Correcting the Problem 

Fortunately, there is a simple solution to the hard water issues affecting your appliances; a water softener. A whole house softener will remove the hard water minerals, reducing or even preventing scale accumulation. This will allow you to enjoy optimum energy efficiency and protect your appliances.

With more than 25 years experience in the residential and commercial water treatment space, Terry is a WQA (Water Quality Association) certified water specialist, LEVEL 3, as well as a WQA certified sales representative.  Terry currently sits on EcoWater Systems (a Berkshire Hathaway Company) national Peers committee, as a water treatment expert advising other water professionals with less experience on best trade and technology practices. EcoWater Systems of Nebraska is one of the biggest water treatment and water delivery businesses in the state.