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How Hard Water Can Damage Your Hot Water Heater

Sediment buildup on a hot water heater heating element because of hard water

Hard water is notorious for harming residential plumbing systems, and one of the appliances most commonly affected is the hot water heater. If your home has hard water, you may already be aware of its impact on your plumbing fixtures and appliances. However, the effects on your hot water heater can be particularly damaging and costly. In this blog, we will explore how hard water damages your water heater and the best ways to reduce its impact.

What Is Hard Water?

Hard water contains high levels of dissolved minerals, primarily calcium and magnesium. These minerals are picked up as water moves through soil and rock before entering your home’s water supply. While hard water is not harmful to your health, it can wreak havoc on your plumbing system and appliances, leading to significant maintenance issues and decreased efficiency.

How Does Hard Water Affect the Water Heater?

If you ignore signs of hard water in your home, it will eventually have disastrous and costly effects on your water heater. Specifically, it will decrease the longevity and efficiency of your water heater. How does this work, exactly? Let’s take a closer look at the effects of hard water on your water heater:

Buildup of Minerals

When hard water is heated, the calcium and magnesium in the water precipitate out and form a buildup of minerals. This sediment accumulates at the bottom of your water heater tank and around the heating elements. Over time, this buildup can reduce the heater’s efficiency and lead to higher energy bills. The buildup of minerals can also cause hot spots that damage the tank and heating elements, shortening the lifespan of the appliance.

Reduced Heating Efficiency

The layer of mineral sediment acts as an insulator, making it more difficult for the heating elements to transfer heat to the water. This means your water heater has to work harder and longer to heat the same amount of water, consuming more energy and increasing wear and tear on the system.


Hard water can also lead to corrosion inside your water heater tank. As minerals accumulate, they can create tiny cracks and pits in the tank’s lining, leading to rust and eventually causing leaks. Corrosion weakens the structural integrity of the tank, increasing the likelihood of premature failure.

Ways to Prevent Damage From Hard Water

While these issues are certainly concerning, there are several effective ways to protect your water heater from the damaging effects of hard water. The most important steps include:

Install a Water Softener

One of the best solutions to combat hard water is to install a water softener. A water softener works by removing calcium and magnesium ions from the water and replacing them with sodium or potassium ions. This process, known as ion exchange, significantly reduces the hardness of the water, preventing mineral buildup in your water heater and other appliances.

Regular Maintenance and Flushing

Flushing the tank every six months can help remove mineral sediment that has accumulated at the bottom of the tank. This simple step can enhance the efficiency of your water heater and extend its lifespan. Additionally, inspecting the anode rod, a component that helps prevent corrosion, and replacing it when necessary can further protect your water heater.

Lower the Temperature

Reducing the temperature setting on your water heater can also help minimize the effects of hard water. High temperatures accelerate the precipitation of calcium and magnesium, leading to faster mineral buildup. By lowering the temperature to around 120°F, you can slow down this process, reducing the rate at which scale forms and extending the life of your water heater.

Contact Serv-All Water Conditioning for a Water Softener Installation

If your home has hard water and you’re concerned about how it might be affecting your hot water heater and other appliances, it’s time to take action. Installing a water softener is a proactive step to protect your plumbing system and ensure the longevity and efficiency of your water heater. At Serv-All Water Conditioning, we specialize in providing top-quality water softener installations and salt delivery services in Las Vegas, NV, and beyond.

Don’t let hard water wreak havoc on your home’s plumbing. Contact Serv-All Water Conditioning today to schedule a consultation and learn more about how a water softener can benefit you.