Plumbing equipment can be expensive to repair or replace. That’s why it is important for homeowners to maximize the lifespan of every component in their home. By paying attention to a few simple pointers, the equipment that so many of us take for granted will last for many years to come.
The quality of the water coming into your house has a drastic effect on the longevity of plumbing fixtures. In our area, we often see levels of chlorine that even exceed what would be found in the average swimming pool. Water treated with chlorine can be beneficial because it kills bacteria—at the same time, it is not desirable to drink. In addition to unpalatability, excessive amounts of chlorine in the water can also drastically shorten the life of plumbing fixtures. Toilets and faucets contain parts that are made of plastic (such as the flapper valve, fill valve, gaskets, or o-rings), which can break down after prolonged exposure to high levels of chlorine.
There is hard water in our area, meaning the water contains high levels of minerals like calcium and magnesium. One of the telltale signs that your home has hard water is a visible white crust on the faucet. This hardness will build up on many of the components in your home (such as the pipes and the water heater) and can be very hard to remove.
Hard water makes doing the laundry or washing the dishes more difficult because more soap must be used to get the job done. As the minerals from hard water build up along the sides of a home’s pipes, they can become clogged enough to make it difficult for water to flow through. This is actually very similar to the way cholesterol can clog a person’s arteries. (You might have seen pictures of pipes that once had a half-inch diameter which eventually became constricted to the size of a straw.)
There are a couple of ways to mitigate hard water: There is a traditional system that uses salt, and there is also a newer product on the market called a descaler. Descalers do not actually remove calcium and magnesium from the water. Instead, they change the chemical property of the water so these minerals do not attach themselves to fixtures. While this extends the life of the plumbing, it also makes it easier to clean the entire house. Tubs, showers, and sinks will no longer accumulate residue from mineral buildup.
High Water Pressure
Many homeowners will be surprised to learn that water pressure is even a factor in the longevity of their plumbing equipment. While not common in our area, excessive water pressure can be detrimental to plumbing fixtures. All appliances in the home are manufactured with a specific pressure in mind. Whenever we encounter situations where a homeowner expresses concern regarding water pressure, we will check the pressure and then determine if a pressure regulator should be installed.