Hard Water Damage to Chicago Plumbing: Prevention Tips

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Hard Water Damage to Chicago Plumbing: Prevention Tips

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Chicago's water sources have a high mineral content
Chicago's water sources have a high mineral content

Hard water poses significant challenges for Chicago plumbing systems, impacting everything from water quality to the structural integrity of pipes and fixtures.

With an average water hardness of 148 ppm (parts per million), Chicago's hard water can have detrimental effects on a home's plumbing system.

In this article, we will detail how hard water affects plumbing in Chicago homes, how you can test for hard water in your home, and the best steps to help prevent hard water damage.

How Does Hard Water Affect Chicago Plumbing?

Chicago faces significant challenges with hard water due to its high mineral content, primarily calcium and magnesium ions. Hard water can have serious effects on plumbing systems throughout the city, leading to various issues, including:

  1. Scale Buildup: One of the most noticeable effects of hard water on Chicago plumbing is the buildup of scale within pipes, faucets, and fixtures. Over time, the minerals in hard water can accumulate and form a thick layer of scale, restricting water flow and causing blockages. This can result in decreased water pressure and flow rates, as well as increased strain on pipes and fittings.
  2. Corrosion: Hard water can also accelerate the corrosion of metal plumbing components, such as pipes, valves, and fittings. The high mineral content in the water can react with the metal surfaces, leading to the breakdown of protective coatings and the formation of rust and corrosion. This corrosion weakens the integrity of the plumbing system, increasing the risk of leaks, bursts, and other structural failures.
  3. what you see here is also inside your pipes
    What you see here is also inside your pipes
  4. Appliance Damage: Chicago homeowners may experience damage to their appliances, such as water heaters, dishwashers, and washing machines, due to hard water. The minerals in the water can deposit on heating elements and internal components, reducing efficiency and lifespan. In particular, water heaters are vulnerable to sediment buildup, which can lead to decreased heating efficiency and premature failure.
  5. Faucet and Fixture Wear: Hard water can cause visible damage to faucets, showerheads, and other fixtures in Chicago homes. The mineral deposits can leave behind stains and spots on surfaces, making them difficult to clean and maintain. Additionally, the constant exposure to hard water can cause deterioration of seals and gaskets, leading to leaks and drips.
  6. Increased Maintenance Costs: Dealing with hard water issues can result in higher maintenance costs for Chicago homeowners and property managers. Regular repairs and replacements due to hard water damage can add up over time, making it a costly problem to address.

Understanding the effects of hard water and taking proactive measures can help stop these issues and extend the lifespan of plumbing in your home.

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Can I Test for Hard Water in My Chicago Home?

If you suspect that your Chicago home may have hard water, there are several methods you can use to test its hardness levels.

Here are some ways Chicago residents can test for hard water:

  • Home Testing Kits: One option is to purchase a hard water testing kit from a local hardware store or online retailer. These kits typically come with testing reagents or strips and include instructions for use. RainSoft provides free water hardness test kits for you to use in your Chicago home.
  • Contact Your Water Utility Provider: You can contact the Chicago Department of Water Management or your local water utility provider to inquire about the hardness level of the municipal water supply in your area. Many water utility providers offer water quality reports that include information on water hardness.
  • Visual Inspection: In addition to formal testing methods, you can also perform a visual inspection of your plumbing fixtures and appliances for signs of hard water buildup. Look for white or yellowish deposits on faucets, showerheads, and other surfaces, as well as limescale deposits inside appliances such as kettles and dishwashers.

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What Steps Can Chicago Homeowners Take to Prevent Hard Water Damage?

Chicago homeowners facing hard water issues must take proactive measures to prevent damage to their plumbing systems and appliances.

Water Softener

Installing a water softener system is one effective approach to treat hard water at the source. These systems use ion exchange technology to remove minerals such as calcium and magnesium from the water, effectively reducing its hardness.

Chicago Water Pros provide extensive water softening options to the Greater Chicago Area to help combat the effects of hard water damage.

When considering a water softener, look for systems specifically designed to handle the hardness levels typically found in Chicago's water supply.

Repiping With PEX Tubing

Addressing existing damage is essential if your plumbing has already been affected by Chicago's hard water. Once scale buildup occurs, there is no effective way to remove it, and the affected plumbing will need to be replaced.

When replacing your plumbing, PEX (cross-linked polyethylene) tubing is generally more effective against the effects of hard water damage. PEX tubing's smooth internal surface is less prone to scale buildup compared to metal pipes such as galvanized steel or even trusted materials like copper piping, leading to possible pinhole leaks.

routing new PEX tubing through walls
Routing new PEX tubing through walls

Alongside its hard water effectiveness, PEX tubing also offers several advantages, including its durability, resistance to corrosion, and longevity. We have an article detailing the benefits of repiping with PEX.

By taking proactive steps to prevent hard water damage in your Chicago home, you can protect your plumbing system and appliances from costly repairs and replacements, ensuring the longevity of your plumbing infrastructure.

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Get a Quote for Repiping Your Damaged Pipes in Chicago

Here at Repipe Specialists, we've fully replaced plumbing damaged by hard water in thousands of homes across the USA with modern Uponor PEX tubing. We continually get positive customer feedback from customers about their whole home repipe experiences. We often exceed their expectations on:

  • Speed: Our repipe crews typically complete a repipe in a day, returning on another day for wall patching.
  • Convenience: Through our One-Stop Repipe™ Process, we handle everything from permits, to wall patching, to inspections.
  • Cleanliness: Our crews are trained to protect your home while working (we cover all surfaces with protective sheeting), and to clean up fully at the end of each day.
  • Peace of Mind: Repipe Specialists is a fully licensed plumber in every state we operate in, and we back all of our repipes with a lifetime warranty.
  • Financing programs: To help take the sting out of unplanned repipe expenses, we offer several financing programs.
  • Price: As a specialist that performs hundreds of repipes a week, we can deliver high-quality repipes at a lower cost vs generalist plumbers. We have an article that covers repipe cost factors in detail. Our quotes typically range from $4,500 to $15,000 depending on the size and complexity of your project.

Schedule a free in-home consult, and one of our local repipe consultants will explain all your repipe options and provide you with a written, fixed-price quote. Fix hard water damage in Chicago, repipe with PEX.

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About Repipe Specialists

Expert Repiping at an Affordable Cost

Since our founding in 1991, we've been completing residential and multi-family building repipes to the highest standard.

With over 75,000 repipes completed, we've perfected our  One Stop Repipe™ process: providing you with a high quality and convenient repipe experience while offering significant savings compared to traditional plumbers - plus, our work is guaranteed for life.

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