Hard Water – Why Your Appliances Don’t Stand the Test of Time
Appliances just aren’t built to last anymore. Washing machines, dishwashers, and water heaters seem to need repaired or serviced constantly. Leaks, inefficiency, and full breakdowns are just expected as part of appliance ownership, and the cost of repairs or replacements can seem like a necessary evil.
What if you could take steps to increase the life and efficiency of all of your water-utilizing appliances?
Step one to solving a recurring problem like this is determining the shared characteristics. What do all of these failing appliances have in common? They’re all connected to the same power source, but other appliances are still working at full capacity. They’re exposed to all the same elements as everything else in your home, with one exception; These appliances require water to function.
Hard Working Water, or Hard Water Not Working?
The water running to your home is used every day, several times a day. Running the dishwasher, the washing machine, showering, cooking, and cleaning all require a constant supply of clean, safe water. As hard as your water works, did you know that hard water doesn’t actually work, well, as hard?
In fact, hard water can actually stain clothes and dishes that were cleaner when you started washing them. Lime and scale buildup, soap scum, and hard water residue leave your clothes dingy and your dishes etched. This could lead to you running your appliances more, using more soap, and wearing out your appliances faster.
Water: Ingredients List
You may think of your water as containing nothing more than two hydrogen and one oxygen atoms, but did you know that there is a dirty-laundry-list of ingredients in your municipal or well supply? Calcium, magnesium, and iron are just a few of the minerals found in your tap. While they aren’t bad for you on their own, they may be contributing to the premature breakdown of your most used appliances, and your favorite clothes. They are the main culprit in your scale and mineral deposits on your tubs, sinks, and appliances.
These minerals cause the hard water, which can then wreak havoc on your plumbing, clog pipes, drains, and faucets, and damage the very equipment designed to help you clean your home.
A water softener can safely remove these harmful minerals, as well as any sediment in your water supply.
In 2009, the Water Quality Association commissioned a series of studies to exam the impact of hard water on standard household appliances and fixtures. You can read the whole study here.
The evidence here clearly illustrates the detrimental effects of hard water. The WQA research clearly demonstrates that years of efficacy can be stolen from the life of expensive equipment like washing machines and dish washers. A water heater repair or replacement can set a family back thousands of dollars. This is a devastating blow to the average American household.
Additionally, soft water requires less detergents, soaps, and cleaners to do their job. This can save you money both in cleaning products and in replacing clothes and dishes that wear out quickly due to harsh treatment. In fact, the average washing machine used 50% less detergent when using soft water, and dishwashers used 70% less.
Consider the savings on your utility costs, as well. In addition to requiring fewer cycles to clean your home, you can also use a lower temperature to achieve an even better result. Softened water can clean at a temperature of only 60 degrees, instead of the standard 100 degrees hard water needs to remove tough dirt.
Hard Water and its Impact on Efficiency
High Efficiency is an excellent option, and as sustainability measures increase, HE models are becoming more common in the average American household. These appliances cut energy costs and reduce each home’s environmental impact, but certainly present a large investment up-front.
Running hard water through a High Efficiency appliance has been proven to reduce a machine’s efficiency dramatically. This means all of those savings are being washed right down the drain. Literally.
Using demineralized or soft water extends a machine’s efficiency and keeps it running newer, longer.
If you read the care and instructions manual that comes with your appliances, most recommend using treated water to optimize the machine’s performance. Many warranties actually require the use of soft water, and using hard water in these appliances may void the warrantee entirely.
A softer may also help reduce the carbon footprint of the standard American home. Less energy can be used to get your home, laundry, and dishes cleaner. This also means less waste and less money spent replacing clothes, appliances, and dishes that are worn out by rough care. Reduced use of chemical solvents, detergents, and soaps lowers the amount of pollutant entering the water supply. This means water is easier to clean on a municipal level. This doesn’t just save money for your home and your city, but it takes a heavy toll off of your local ecosystem.
Minerals and Money
The Department of Energy estimates that the simple act of heating the water in your home accounts for up to 25% of your energy costs. The only thing that uses more energy is heating your entire home. When you consider how much of your paycheck is spent heating water so that it can clean properly, it become even more important that it’s done so efficiently. The simple act of using soft water significantly improves the efficiency of your water heater. An efficient heater can save you up to 29% per year on the cost of heating your water. The WQA study of 2009 clearly indicates the positive impact of soft water on a water heater.
“As for water heaters, the researchers found that when they used softened water, the units maintained their original factory efficiency rating for as long as 15 years.”
Regardless of the type of water heater [Gas, electric, HE, or tankless] evidence strongly suggests a correlation between the use of hard water and a significantly shortened life span of your appliance.
“Running hard water through the units cut efficiency by up to 48 percent. Scale buildup shortened the lifespan of the heating elements inside electric water heaters, and some tankless water heaters using hard water failed after just 1.6 years.”
In fact, each system that was used in the study was quickly broken down by the hard water, causing the end of the experiment.
Want More from a Water Softener?
We have discussed the many positive ways a softener can impact your home in our blog. Everything from better skin and hair to saving your clothes from the landfill. In short, hard water can make for much harder living. A softener can save you money, time, and years of hard-ache.