How Hard Water Is Shortening Your Appliances Lifespan

How Hard Water Is Shortening Your Appliances Lifespan

All appliances need quality care to thrive, and that goes double for appliances that function with water like your washer and dishwasher. Hard water—water with a high count of calcium, magnesium and more minerals—can have a severe impact on your appliances, your belongings and your overall well-being. 

How Hard Water and “Scale” Create Damage

If you have hard water, you may have seen scale: a white, chalk-like residue that can build up where water has been. While it’s often noticed in bathtubs and sinks, it can really do the most damage in underseen places—like the pipes and water tanks found in appliances—since it can create clogs as it hardens. 

Any water-based appliance is at risk of being affected by scale: from decreased functionality and lesser performance, to a shorter overall lifespan (more specifics on this below). While the degree can vary, damages can even go to the extent of voiding manufacturer warranties. 

Appliances That Can Be Damaged

Hard water can mean expenses and headaches. Fortunately, there are short-term solutions that can be done repeatedly for appliances. Of course, these home remedies can be a hassle to stay on top of, and they don’t ultimately solve the core of the problem, so we’ll cover a long-term solution too. 

Water Heaters

As one of the largest water-based appliances, it’s also one of the most at-risk. Scaling can form at its base and act as a barrier that heat must pass through before warming the water. This requires more energy and can eventually even cause appliance failure. Every one to two years, it’s a solid idea to flush the heater to clear out any buildup, as well as perform some preventive cleaning and checks on both the pipes and lines for scale buildups. 

Washing Machines

Don’t necessarily blame your washing machine for laundry troubles. Scale likes to react with detergents and creates a powdery white substance that can cause item deterioration and roughness. Over time, this mess will get left behind in the washer, leading to future laundry fading more quickly and having a shortened lifespan. Lines, pumps and other moving parts in a washing machine can also get damaged by scale, and the performance can definitely suffer and fail entirely as a result.  

At-home solutions include everything from upping the water temperature and using better quality detergent, to incorporating vinegar and laundry borax in wash cycles. 


Dishwashers are relatively delicate and work best with soft water and low drying temperatures. When scaling occurs, everything from the system of nozzles to the cycled water is susceptible. It can mean water spots and caked-on food left on your dishes, as dishwasher detergents will stop performing as well, as well as etching on glass and a dull cloudiness spreading through utensils. For lines in particular, scale can create clogs that end up causing permanent damage to the system.

To treat your dishwasher, follow these steps: 

Sinks and faucets 

With sinks, all of the components need to be considered. For the base of the sink, vinegar and scrubbing with a sponge can cut down on scale, but you’ll really only be solving part of the problem.  Even if you can’t see it, the pipe inside your faucet is likely being affected too. There are faucets made specifically to deal with hard water, but remember: these aren’t going to solve the core of the problem or help your other appliances. 

The aerator in a faucet in particular can be affected by scale, potentially becoming clogged and impacting the flow and pressure of water. Cleaning this effectively will require disassembly and soaking its different parts in vinegar, before scrubbing any leftover scale off. 


As toilets always hold water in their base, sometimes without getting cycled through or flushed for an extended time, they can be very susceptible to hard water. In addition to (or instead of) commercial toilet cleaners, baking soda, vinegar and borax can be used to diminish scale. Then, use a nylon or steel-wool brush to help take any remaining stains off. 

Coffee makers

Yes, even your caffeine isn’t safe. Even filtered water via a pitcher does not guarantee that minerals that cause scaling have been removed. If you’re able to flush your coffee maker, introducing a mixture of 50-50 white vinegar and hot water every time you’re worried about a build-up can help. 

The Lifespan Of Appliances With & Without Hard Water

Wondering how hard water damage can really add up? An Article by Homewater101, based on research by the Water Quality Research Foundation, showcased lifetime averages for hard water-based appliances compared to soft water ones: 

Appliance Lifespan with Hard WaterLifespan with Soft Water
Electric water heaters6.5 years13 years
Gas water heaters5.5 years11 years
Washing machines7.7 years11 years
Dishwashers7 years10 years
Faucets5.4 years9 years
Toilets2 years6.5 years 

Long-Term Solution for Hard Water 

Instead of short-term fixes that need constant maintenance, solve the problem with a Kinetico Water Softener Solution. No matter how much water you use, our solutions can attract and flush out the minerals that make water hard, without being negatively affected by it. They’re non-electric, which keeps your costs down and helps the environment. With no computers or timers to adjust, repair or replace either, you can save yourself from constant busywork, too. 

Between all of our options, you’ll experience:

Protect Your Appliances With a Kinetico Water Softener System

At Kinetico, we can test your water hardness and provide a specialized option for your needs. You can rest easy knowing you have a high-level solution that can offer the ongoing water softness your appliances need. Schedule a free consultation to find out if your water is hard or give us a call at (888) 788-3181.