How to deal with hard water and high water pressure in San Antonio

Submitted by Dixie Bishop, owner and president of TPD Plumbing

Water in San Antonio is very hard and contains a heavy concentration of minerals. Many areas also have high water pressure.

It’s important to evaluate your water supply for excessive minerals. A homeowner’s first priority in dealing with the heavy concentration of minerals in San Antonio is to consider a water softener. The unfortunate effects of hard water are varied, but can include:

  • Accumulated minerals in the water heater. Minerals do not conduct heat well. They decrease your heater’s efficiency. They also can coat the heater’s element and cause it to arc. Minerals can significantly shorten the life of your water heater. Manufacturers recommend a yearly flush to remove minerals. When you purchase a new water heater, have your plumbing technician install a ball valve on your heater to replace the small plastic valve most manufacturers use. This will facilitate a true flush of the system, not just draining.
  • Damage to appliances, including dishwashers, washing machines and coffee makers. Lengthen the life and usefulness of your appliances – no more etched glasses or dingy clothes – by removing minerals before they reach your appliances.
  • Damage to pipes. Because they are corrosive in nature, minerals can eat away the pipes in your home. This can cause flooding if the pipes are in an unseen area, such as inside a wall. Check floors and walls for dampness if you notice a darkened spot.
  • Clogged pipes and fixtures. Shower heads and shower valves located in the wall can become so clogged with minerals that they must be replaced. Replacing valves can require cutting an access hole, which will necessitate repair of the wall and/or tile.


Water softener options

There are several types of products you can use to deal with hard water. Salt-based water softeners use salt or potassium to counteract the calcium, magnesium and other minerals present in the water by exchanging hardness ions for sodium ions. Some homeowners prefer alternative softeners because they are concerned with salt in their water or they consider the regeneration needed in salt systems to be a water-waster. Many professionals feel that alternative softeners will not do the job a salt-based system will do.

A green alternative to salt-based systems uses a citrus-based formulation to soften water. This system has a built-in bypass. There is no drain, because there is no need to backwash. This helps conserve water.

A mineral eliminator puts a charge on minerals, which causes them to pass through the system without adhering to pipes or appliances. This is not a true softener, but people who do not like the “slick” feel of softened water may prefer it. Manufacturers claim this product will also aid in removing scale buildup already present.

Evaluate your water supply for excessive water pressure

High water pressure can be damaging to appliances, pipes and fixtures, due to their inability to handle the high pressure. Excessively high water pressure can cause a break in supply lines and valves when the pressure inside the line is greater than the strength of the line.

Clanging pipes, caused by high speed water in the pipes, is a definite sign of high water pressure. When the fixture is closed, the water bounces back, which causes shock and damage to the pipes. If you notice this problem, call your plumbing technician right away.

Have your plumbing technician check your water pressure. If pressure is high, he should install a pressure reducing valve (PRV). According to San Antonio city requirements, an expansion tank is needed to protect your PRV. The expansion tank provides an area for water to expand and assists in maintaining constant pressure in your home.

The Uniform Plumbing Code does not allow plumbing technicians to warranty any plumbing fixtures or appliances subjected to greater than 80 pounds- per-square inch of pressure.

TPD Plumbing, in San Antonio, is a member of the Texas Water Quality Association, and provides service to the Greater San Antonio area.

As of June 22, 2011, this service provider was highly rated on Angie’s List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie’s List.

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Calcium buildup from hard water becomes apparent after a water heater was drained and replaced. (Photo courtesy of Eric Kashdan)
Calcium buildup from hard water becomes apparent after a water heater was drained and replaced. (Photo courtesy of Eric Kashdan)

Whether on a well on municipal water, Northeast Ohio members use water softeners to remove minerals that make hard water, such as calcium and magnesium

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