Mineral Deposits in Water: Detection, Removal, and Prevention
Caroline "EPC Extraordinaire" Coppola
Mineral deposits, or hard water deposits, occur when there are high levels of calcium, iron, copper, and magnesium in said water. Hard water is formed when minerals are picked up underground as it passes through rocks and soils creating “hard water.” Eventually, the hard water enters into the water supply making its way into the homes of millions of people. Hard water is abundant- over 85% of the water in the US is hard water, but don’t worry! Hard water doesn’t pose health risks, however, it can pose a threat to your pipes. Keep reading to find out how to detect, remove, and prevent mineral deposits.
Hard water deposits occur due to build up of minerals in water- specifically calcium, iron, copper, and magnesium. Over time, this build up causes hard water stains, a decrease in water pressure, and eventually, clogged pipes due to excess mineral deposits. One way to detect if you have hard water is to look for hard water stains on your plumbing fixtures. If you see mineral deposits (a white film or red rust-like stains are just two examples or many) on your plumbing fixtures, you have hard water. Stains are not indicative of buildup or clogged pipes, but it could be a symptom of a larger issue! If mineral deposits are becoming a larger issue in your home, you will begin to see signs. First, it’s very likely that you will see tiny white specks, or the minerals, in your water. This is a sign that there could be mineral buildup in the pipes. Next, you will start to notice the water pressure is getting worse. As the minerals build up, less water will move through the pipes, decreasing the water pressure and eventually fully clogging the pipes.
It is extremely important not to let mineral deposits build up to this point. If a pipe is fully clogged, the only fix is to replace the pipe that is clogged. Unfortunately, there is no safe way to clean these pipes, as they are directly connected to the water supply. Using chemical cleaners would cause chemicals to leach into the public water supply. While hard water deposits aren’t a health risk, drinking the chemicals associated with cleaning these deposits are, and can lead to poisoning and death. To recap: don’t clean mineral deposits in water pipes with chemical cleaners!
If you are unlucky enough to have to replace a pipe or pipes, there is a way to prevent this from happening again. Homeowners with hard water issues should invest in a water softening system. A water softening system uses salt to pull the minerals out of the water before entering the pipes. This removes the majority of the minerals from your water, ensuring soft water and clean pipes for the future.