The Effects of Hard Water on Plumbing Fittings and Fixtures

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More than 85% of homes in the US are estimated to have hard water.

While hardness isn’t a health concern, the impacts of hard water on your home are damaging and costly.

Here, we’ve shared the 5 common effects of hard water on plumbing fixtures and fittings.

📌 Key Takeaways:

  • Hard water causes ugly stains on fixtures, clogs pipes and drains, decreases water flow and pressure, increases your need for cleaning, and shortens the lifespan of your fixtures.
  • You can eliminate water hardness issues in your plumbing system by installing a water softening system at your main water line.

🚱 How Hard Water Effects Plumbing Fixtures And Fittings

Here are some of the ways that hard water might affect your home’s plumbing fittings and fixtures:

Stains On Surfaces

The most obvious effect of hard water on your fixtures and fittings is scale buildup and mineral deposits on surfaces.

Any surface that comes in regular contact with hard water is likely to accumulate mineral buildup, even if you clean your surfaces regularly.

Hardness stains are white or grey, with a rough, chalky texture. They’re most commonly found around faucets, on plugs, on the underside of shower heads, and in toilet tanks and bowls.

Aside from lime scale, hard water also forms soap scum – an insoluble filmy substance that you’re most likely to find on fixtures that are exposed to soapy water, such as bathtubs and sinks. You’ll probably notice a ring of gray film around your tub after emptying the water, or a scummy layer on the bottom of your sink.

Hard water stains in faucet

Decreased Water Flow And Low Water Pressure

Hard water also reduces the flow and pressure of water traveling through your plumbing fittings and leaving the fixtures.

When hard water flows through your plumbing system, it forms pipe scale. Over time, this scale accumulates, narrowing the pipe diameter and reducing the flow of water through the system.

Whether you have steel pipes, copper pipes, PEX pipes, or pipes and fittings made from PVC, hard water doesn’t discriminate – calcium buildup occurs on all these materials. It affects all types of pipes, too, including delivery and drainage lines.

This reduced flow may reduce the efficiency of your appliances and fixtures.

Clogged Pipes And Drains

Eventually, your pipes and fittings may become completely blocked by mineral deposits, preventing water from flowing through them at all.

Clogs and blockages in your pipes, faucets, and drains are often expensive to resolve. Limescale is tough and thick, especially if it has accumulated for decades, and can’t simply be removed with a cleaning product.

You’ll probably have to replace faucets, pipes, drain lines, and other fittings and fixtures that are badly clogged with limescale. Hiring a professional plumber and buying new parts for a plumbing system doesn’t come cheap.

Limescale build up in under sink pipe

Increased Cleaning Spend

Limescale is ugly and affects the performance of your fixtures. So, if your water supply contains high concentrations of calcium and magnesium, you’ll have to spend more money on cleaning products that are specially designed to remove hard water stains.

You’ll also have to clean more frequently and put more effort into your cleaning duties if you use hard water in your fixtures.

Mineral buildup is tough to remove, even with powerful cleaning products. You’ll have to put your back into scrubbing the thick mineral deposits, rather than simply wiping your surfaces down for disinfection purposes.

Shortened Fixture Lifespan

The mineral deposits and clogging in your faucets, shower head, toilet tank, and other fixtures may affect their performance to the point that they’re no longer usable.

Sometimes, cleaning isn’t enough to resolve the issue, and you may have to resort to replacing the fixture with a new one.

If you have expensive faucets made from beautiful brass or stainless steel, you won’t be impressed if hard water shortens their lifespans significantly.

Limescale build up in plumbing fixtures

🧽 How To Reduce Hard Water Effects On Your Fittings And Fixtures

Here are a few ways you can reduce the side effects of hard water in your fittings and fixtures.

Adopt A Regular Cleaning Schedule

The only effective way to tackle the effects of hard water is to adapt a cleaning schedule that’s regular and powerful enough to get rid of calcium deposits.

The majority of household products for cleaning, even those designed for use in bathrooms, aren’t capable of removing mineral build-up. You’ll need to get your hands on a specialized commercial limescale cleaner (or use powerful natural alternatives like vinegar and baking soda).

We recommend cleaning your shower doors, shower heads, kitchen and bathroom sinks/faucets, bathtubs, and toilets thoroughly at least once a week if you have hard water.

That means you’ll be able to keep on top of your cleaning and the calcium and magnesium deposits won’t have a chance to build up excessively, so they’ll be easy(ish) to remove.

Spraying shower screens with limescale remover formula

Switch Up Your Bathroom Materials

Certain bathroom materials are more prone to damage from hard water minerals than others, so if you want to save money in the long run and enjoy longer-lasting fixtures, you might need to do some switching out.

Quartz and granite are good materials for bathroom countertops because they’re highly durable, so they’re easy to keep clean and won’t get damaged from the rough scrubbing you might have to do to remove mineral deposits.

As for faucets, we recommend avoiding expensive materials that could become dulled or damaged by limescale. Matte stainless steel with a blurred finish is a good choice for faucets because it disguises limescale, so it’s not as obvious. Stainless steel is one of the most durable materials, so it’ll last a long time even when exposed to powerful limescale cleaners.

As for your shower doors, there’s no material that will prevent the appearance of lime scale and hard water spots. If you can, however, switch to a frameless, trackless shower screen, so you only have to worry about mineral build-up on the glass itself, and not the borders or tracks.

Install A Water Softener

No amount of regular cleaning will prevent hard water damage in the first place, and you won’t be able to do anything about the buildup of dissolved minerals inside your unreachable fittings.

The only way you can prevent the formation of mineral deposits in the first place is to switch your home’s hard water to soft water. You can achieve this by installing a water softener at the point of entry in your plumbing system, upstream of your hot water heater.

Water softeners use a process called ion exchange to replace calcium and magnesium minerals with sodium ions.

Sodium-softened water isn’t capable of forming mineral deposits from hard water because it no longer contains calcium, magnesium, and other minerals responsible for these deposits.

A water softener won’t only prevent a buildup of hard minerals in your fixtures and fittings – it’ll also prevent your washing machines, hot water heater, dishwasher, and other appliances from being damaged by a high concentration of hardness.

Installing water softener home prevents limescale buildup on plumbing and fixtures

📑 Final Word

Hard water buildup will ruin the appearance of your sinks, faucets, bathtubs, and showerheads, and cause clogging in your pipes and fittings, reducing your water pressure.

If you’re one of the majority of households in the US dealing with hard water, you only have a few ways to tackle lime scale: by adopting a regular cleaning schedule and switching your fittings to ones made from materials that are more durable and resistant to limescale.

Since both of these methods require a lot of effort and unnecessary spending, we don’t recommend them as long-term solutions.

The best way to prevent hard water issues from arising in the first place is to install a water softener. Soft water is unable to form scale, so you can abandon your increased cleaning efforts and enjoy lower utility bills because your fittings, fixtures, and appliances will be able to perform as efficiently as intended.


Does hard water ruin fixtures?

Yes, hard water deposits can ruin fixtures by forming crusty buildup that’s equally ugly and difficult to remove. Hard water buildup may become so thick and tough that it’s impossible to completely get rid of, and it may clog the insides of your faucets and showers, so you have no choice but to replace them.

Does hard water corrode faucets?

Yes, if your faucets are made from any type of metal, they could be corroded by hard water deposits. All metal surfaces are at risk of hard water corrosion – not only the metals in your pipes and fittings. You can reduce the risk of hard water corrosion on your faucet by choosing materials that are less prone to corrosion, like brass.

  • 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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