FAQ: Does the Alkalinity of Water Affect the Performance of a Water Heater System?

June 19, 2019

High alkalinity problems, as found in residential water supplies, impact water heating systems. Flowing through appliance innards, the high pH fluid hamstrings system performance. Never fear, this FAQ is here to show you how to stave off the effects of these harsh chemical influences. Starting with a quick look at the sources of alkaline water, this article is already gaining momentum.

What is the pH Scale?

The pH scale starts at 0 and goes all the way up to 14. Acids have pH values that lay between 1-to-7. Chemically neutral substances occupy the middle of the scale. Between 7.1 and 14, here’s where you’ll find alkaline substances.

Why is Your Water’s pH level so High?

Limestone deposits dissolve into water-filled aquifers. Other carbonates dissolve just as easily. Mostly harmless, the high alkalinity compounds make their way into your water supply, where they rapidly resolidify.

What Happens to a Water Heater System?

The problems start as soon as the carbonates resolidify. They form a scaly film on heat conducting surfaces. If the film forms between a heating element and a water tank, then appliance efficiency drops occur. The same issues plague gas water heater systems.

Is System Alkalinity Ever a Good Thing?

Alkaline compounds are added to water supplies as pH balancers. Because chlorine and other low pH substances turn mains water supplies slightly corrosive, alkaline additives are applied to cancel out their effects and shift the pH level back to 7.

What’s Happening to the Hot Water?

If the alkalinity level rises past 7, then the effects of the pH rise are soon noticed. In drinking water, alkalinity is detected by the human tongue as a bitter taste. In hot water taps and shower heads, the scaly build-up obstructs flow. In laundry equipment, dingy clothing exits ailing washers. Even on hot-washed dishes, a chalky white coating appears on dishes after they’re dried.

Is There Worse to Follow?

Left unchecked, water heaters experience lifespan decreases. The element on an electric water heater ages and burns out prematurely. On a tankless unit, the heat exchanger assembly endures as performance slumps take place. Overall, every piece of equipment exposed to a highly alkaline water supply is hit by a performance drop and a subsequent longevity tumble.

This is an ever-changing situation. To keep pH levels as close as possible to 7, a water auditing service should be called upon. If pH levels are low, appliance parts and seals corrode due to the acidic condition of the water. Pushed too high, though, high alkalinity levels create hard water, which results in that nasty scale. By working with a water auditing lab, the ideal pH level is maintained.

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