The Cost of Hard Water: How it Impacts Your Home and Wallet

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If you’ve been considering buying a water softener, you might be slightly put off by the price.

Water softeners are expensive, costing at least a several hundred dollars.

But have you ever stopped to think about how not having a water softener might also be costing you money – and how a water softener might actually help you save money?

In this article, we’ve discussed the expense of hard water, and the effects it has on your home and wallet.

📌Key Takeaways:

  • Some of the costs involved with hard water are associated with reduced appliance efficiency, repairs to broken appliances and leaky pipes, limescale cleaning solutions, and extra soap for washing your hair, dishes, and clothes.
  • Find out whether or not you have hard water by conducting a water hardness test.
  • You can avoid all the costs associated with hard water use by installing a water softener system.

💸 5 Costs Of Hard Water

Let’s take a look at the 5 costs associated with using hard water in your home.

Hard Water CostYearly Estimate
Inefficient Appliances$225-$275
Appliance Repairs & Replacements$10-$150 (for repairs)
$250-$1,750 (for a new appliance)
Limescale Cleaning Products$25-$100
Repairing Clogged Or Leaky Pipes$15-$250+
Extra Soap & Personal Care Products$40-$130

1) The Cost Of Inefficient Appliances

Estimated cost: $225-$275/year

Hard water contains calcium and magnesium minerals, which are responsible for limescale. The scale deposits left by hard minerals coat the surfaces of your home’s water-using appliances, stopping these appliances running efficiently.

Let’s use your hot water heater as an example. Hard water scale buildup acts as a layer of insulation inside your heating tank, meaning that the heater must run for longer to heat your water up to the desired temperature.

An efficient water heater should consume 10 to 12 kilowatts per hour. But over time, the limescale in your water heater could reduce its efficiency, increasing your heating bills by tens – or even hundreds – per year. The longer the scale can accumulate, the thicker the layer of insulation, and the longer it’ll take to heat water in the tank.

Water heater element with limescale buildup

2) The Cost Of Appliance Repairs & Replacements

Estimated cost: $10-$150 (for repairs); $250-$1,750 (for a new appliance)

Water-using appliances are, to a certain extent, designed to deal with hard water. However, even the most hard water-resistant appliance won’t be able to protect against scale buildup, which will eventually stop the unit operating properly.

Major appliances, like washing machines, dishwashers, and hot water heaters, are all affected by hard water. You might need to make more frequent repairs to these appliances because of clogging and leaks caused by scale formation in the unit.

Or, even worse, your appliances might die an early death, forcing you to shell out hundreds or thousands of dollars for a new unit before you expected to.

3) The Cost Of Limescale Cleaning Products

Estimated cost: $25-$100/year

Limescale on your faucets, shower screen, and shower heads has an unpleasant, dirty appearance. You’re not alone if you spend tens of dollars per year on cleaning solutions specifically designed to fight scale.

Cleaning companies know that limescale is one of the biggest and most difficult-to-deal-with problems in US homes, so they can put a premium price on their products marked for limescale cleaning – and people will pay it.

The problem with many of these cleaning products is that they’re not strong enough to be effective – so you end up buying something else, costing you even more money – or they’re super strong (like high acidity cleaners) and are quite dangerous to use to clean limescale on a regular basis.

4) The Cost Of Repairing Clogged Or Leaky Pipes

Estimated cost: $15-$250+

Just like your water heater and other appliances in your home, your pipes and fixtures may be damaged by hard water, resulting in expensive repair costs.

Scale buildup in your pipes will reduce your water pressure and potentially lead to clogging, so you’ll have to spend money on a solution for flushing your plumbing system.

Scale formation may also cause clogged faucets. Leaky pipes could occur due to hard water stains causing your pipes to corrode.

Depending on the level of damage, you might need to use a scale-removal product for your plumbing, or you might need to replace a section of your plumbing.

Limescale buildup on sink pipe

5) The Cost Of Extra Soap & Personal Care Products

Estimated cost: $40-$130/year

Hard water doesn’t lather well with soap. Instead, it forms soap scum – a sticky layer that you may have noticed in your bathtub, or on the surface of your skin after showering.

Because of its inability to lather with soap, hard water needs to be used with more soap than soft water to get the job done. You’ll spend more money on laundry detergent, dishwashing soap, and soaps, shampoos, and conditioners for your personal use.

You might also need to remedy the effects of hard water on your hair and skin, including dryness, split ends, and irritation. These personal care products will add to your total hard water-related annual spend.

📑 Final Word

Hard water has a myriad of effects in the home, including scale on faucets, fixtures, and shower doors, reduced foaming and cleaning abilities, glasses and dishware coated with soapy residues, clogged pipes, and inefficient appliances.

Unfortunately, no amount of cleaning will stop the effects of hard water from making themselves known in your home.

The only way to eliminate these issues is to get a water softener installed at the main water pipe in your home. This will protect your private supply of water (including your cold and hot water supply) from the effects of hard water by removing the calcium and magnesium hardness minerals.

Springwell water softener and iron filter well water treatment system

The Water Quality Association found that installing a water softener can help you to cut down on your energy bills by improving energy efficiency, specifically relating to your water heater use. In a WQRF test, water heaters used with soft water performed efficiently throughout testing, while the heaters used with hard water became clogged with limescale and didn’t make it through the testing period.

So, according to the Water Quality Association, water softeners help you save energy – and your water heater isn’t the only household appliance that should benefit from soft water.

Traditional water softeners range from $600 to $1,500, so they’re not cheap. However, by turning hard water into soft water, they can help you retain the performance of your hot water heaters and other appliances, enjoy batter lathering with soap, and keep showers and faucets flowing freely, so they’ll eventually pay for themselves.

👨‍🔧 Find our top recommended water softeners in this guide.

  • Jennifer Byrd
    Water Treatment Specialist

    For 20+ years, Jennifer has championed clean water. From navigating operations to leading sales, she's tackled diverse industry challenges. Now, at Redbird Water, she crafts personalized solutions for homes, businesses, and factories. A past Chamber President and industry advocate, Jennifer leverages her expertise in cutting-edge filtration and custom design to transform water concerns into crystal-clear solutions.

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