The effects of hard water on a water heater are numerous, from the production of scale to the premature failure of electric heating elements. The bottom line concerning the effects of hard water on a water heater can usually be seen in a utility bill. Increased cost to heat water is a common side effect of hard water. Another of the byproducts of hard water on a water heater is the production of sediment making its way into the water lines and creating a blockage. This type of blockage is commonly difficult to detect and can lead to a very costly repair bill in order to locate and remove the blockage.
Hard water contains calcium and magnesium, which can be useful to the human body; however, these minerals are very costly and damaging to appliances in the home. One of the most troublesome effects of hard water on a water heater is the buildup of scale. Scale is formed from heating the minerals in the water. Specifically, calcium scale and mineral deposits or sediment are the result of hard water in a water heater. As the scale builds up, it actually works to insulate the water from the heating effects of the water heater.
Scale buildup in a hot water heater can cost the homeowner incredible amounts of money as the heater struggles to heat water on a daily basis. On electric water heaters, the buildup of scale can actually cause the electric heating elements to burn out prematurely, requiring early replacement. This is commonly the result of buildup forming closely around the area of the heating element and creating a kind of heating chamber that overheats the element. This causes the element to burn out, while the other element continues the struggle to heat the water.
The scale can also make its way out of the water heater and into the water supply lines. This often results in a water blockage somewhere in the waterline. The scale can become packed into the waterline and form a type of concrete water plug, often requiring the aid of a plumber to remedy the problem. The excessive weight of the scale and deposits can also cause the bottom of the water heater to become bulged and even broken or cracked. The scale generated by the hard water on a water heater can also wreak havoc on other appliances, such as washing machines and dishwashers.