How Water Hardness Affects Plumbing Fittings

Hard water is a term that depending on where in the UK you live, you might be quite familiar with, but the impact that hard water and the treatment of hard water has on water systems is perhaps not as well-known.

What is hard water?

In the simplest of terms, hard water is water that contains a higher concentration of minerals, specifically calcium and magnesium. Water hardness within the UK varies based on location, with more south-eastern and central locations having higher amounts of minerals within their water.

There are many online tools and guides that will let you know the general hardness of the water that you’re dealing with and it’s always worth considering water quality when it comes to deciding on the kind of fittings to use.

Effect on fittings

Harder water tends to leave behind a build-up of residue know as scale and while most people will notice it on fixtures first, a white coating on outlets like taps and showers, but if this build up is present on the exterior, it’s also going to be accumulating on the interior of the pipework.

This scale can impede water flow, affecting water pressure and potentially accelerate issues like corrosion in metal fittings and pipework.

Protecting plumbing from hard water

There are a couple of common solutions for dealing with hard water and scale, the most common being to soften the water. While this will alleviate most hard water concerns, introducing corrosive materials, such as the commonly used chlorine, into metal pipework can also be detrimental. While a build-up of scale is bad and has potential to cause costly repairs, a minimal layer will provide some protection to metal fittings and help prevent pinhole leaks.

Picking the right fitting

Ultimately, the negative effects of hard water can shorten the lifespan of some fittings and systems, but for most, the impact is negligible, but there are alternatives like DZR brass fittings that are more resistant to corrosive materials.