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Help! My Pipes Are Clogged and I Don't Know Why

Updated on September 21, 2016

Signs of hard water

This is a sewer pipe, but the lines going to the toilet are leaking. Here is a leak where the deposits are seen not only on the pipe, but also the wood.
This is a sewer pipe, but the lines going to the toilet are leaking. Here is a leak where the deposits are seen not only on the pipe, but also the wood. | Source
Unseen wood rot is dangerous. It may cause serious injury if left untreated.
Unseen wood rot is dangerous. It may cause serious injury if left untreated. | Source

Not Again!

It's an aggravating job, but someone has to do it. Crawling under the creepy crawl space to change the leaky pipe, that has calcium build up. The crawl space reeks of moisture and mildew. Smells of sewer assault the nose. A small spider scurries away as the light illuminates it. The hope of not encountering a snake weights on the mind. Finally, the problem emerges as the light from the flashlight pushes away the darkness. The plumbing has been corroded clear through.

Mr. P. (my hubby) told me that the corrosion on the pipe is the cause of hard water build up. As the water travels through the plumbing, it leaves behind specs of minerals. Calcium and lime are part of these minerals. They are the ones that cling to the pipe walls, building up, until the pipe clogs. When the water begins to leak outside the pipe, calcium/lime deposits are clearly seen building up around the leak.

What is hard water?

Hard water is water that contains large amounts of minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, and lime. When these minerals are present in water, it is difficult to lather soap. There may be times when the water containing this minerals is so “hard” rendering the water as unfit for use in washing.


Hard water on a metal paint can

This is a photo of a hard water leak from a pipe that dripped onto a metal paint can. It is amazing how fast and how much it deteriated.
This is a photo of a hard water leak from a pipe that dripped onto a metal paint can. It is amazing how fast and how much it deteriated. | Source

Hard Water Corrosion

This is a picture of hard water buildup on a pipe that was affected by electrolysis.
This is a picture of hard water buildup on a pipe that was affected by electrolysis. | Source

Water conditioner treatment

This shows how the water flows in through a pipe from outside, runs across the mineral bed, and then flows inside the house.
This shows how the water flows in through a pipe from outside, runs across the mineral bed, and then flows inside the house. | Source

How do you treat hard water?

Hard water is treated with a water softening solution. A device that is similar to a hot water tank is attached to your pipes. Water comes in from the outside faucet. It flows down through the device and into the sand (mineral bed) The mineral bed pulls the deposits from the water. The discarded minerals are then drained outside and the “soft” water continues to flow into the house.

How the sand and salt works.

When the minerals are flowing through the water conditioning device, the minerals cling to the sand. A salt solution then flushes the minerals out of the sand when the device is full. The minerals are then drained out of the drain pipe. The end result is "soft water" that is now free of the hardening minerals. Silica, “sand” will put a light coating on pipes which will actually protect them.

Does hard vs soft water make a difference?

How does one pick out how large of a water softener/conditioner device?

It depends upon the water conditioner itself. On average, it takes 75 gallons of water per person in a household. Add that by how many people are in your household and it should give you a close estimate as to how big of a device is needed.



To protect your plumbing investment, it is a good idea to check your lines for hard water corrosion and ground wires.


© tlpoague 2011

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    • tlpoague profile image
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      Tammy 5 years ago from USA

      Thanks Eleanor, I found a few of these impressive chrystalized pipes down stairs and couldn't help but take a picture. It took me a long time to realize why we had to replace our pipes every couple of years. Now that I have an idea, it helps to understand why some days my water pressure is low and water bill high. Thanks again for stopping by.

    • eleanorDMorris profile image

      eleanorDMorris 5 years ago from Nashville, TN

      Good work on the Hub here. I especially liked your photos because you can tell they're not stock photos. Real in-the-field pictures that makes me think you really know what you're talking about based off real life experience. ;)

      Keep up the good work.

    • tlpoague profile image
      Author

      Tammy 5 years ago from USA

      Thanks Dolores,

      Nope! I think the corroded pipes look pretty too. It just draws the eyes to how interesting the color and shapes the little chrystals are.

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 5 years ago from East Coast, United States

      Voted up for a very informative piece. And the pictures really illustrate how bad the leaking can get. What a mess! Am I an idiot to think that the corroded copper pipes look pretty with the verdigris? It's such a pretty color.

    • tlpoague profile image
      Author

      Tammy 5 years ago from USA

      Thanks Kashmir,

      It is surprising what electrolysis can do with a little hard water. I don't think Drano is going to be able to break through that one...LOL! Thanks again!

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks for sharing all this good and useful information and tips it will help all those who are looking for this well explained information within your well written hub.

    • tlpoague profile image
      Author

      Tammy 5 years ago from USA

      Thanks Always- I didn't know hard water would do that much damage either. I learned a few lessons while changing plumbing. Can you imagine what that kind of water does to our body? Yuck!

      Thanks Movie-It is amazing the difference in the amount of soaps and shampoo usage. That would make for an interesing science project. Thanks again for stopping!

    • Movie Master profile image

      Movie Master 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      We had hard water where we use to live and the water is much softer here, what a difference to the amount of shampoo and soap we use!

      The Hard water corrosion photo is amazing, great hub thanks for sharing.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 5 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Wow, I have soft water, or so i'm told. I had no idea hard water could cause this much damage. Thank you for sharing....

    • tlpoague profile image
      Author

      Tammy 5 years ago from USA

      Thanks Quill-It is amazing how some of those build-ups are so beautiful. I seen some really interesting ones building up in some of the houses we have lived in. Thanks again!

      Thanks Cardisa-Isn't that the truth! I think our first year here we were fixing a leak about once a month. That is when I learned about the electrical ground wire being attached to the indoor plumbing. The electrolysis caused the pipes to corrode.

    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 5 years ago from Jamaica

      Wow! What a task.....plumbing is one of the most annoying tasks because as soon as one leak is fixed there come another. Those corrosion are grotesque. yuck!

    • profile image

      "Quill Again" 5 years ago

      Love this and as always you have done a great job of explaining all there is to know about hard water. Over the years I have come across some really ugly build ups and yet at the same time stood in amazement at the beauty it has created.

      Blessings and Hugs

    • tlpoague profile image
      Author

      Tammy 5 years ago from USA

      Thanks Wheelinallover,

      That is a bonus that you didn't run into any problems like this. Where we live, the water is hard, so things rust pretty fast. We are in the process of remodeling and doing the same with plastic piping. I agree, I don't think the plastic will last as long. Thanks again!

    • wheelinallover profile image

      Dennis Thorgesen 5 years ago from Central United States

      All things considered my house which was built in 1910 is in pretty good shape. We didn't find any build up on the metal pipes when we rebuilt the bathroom in March of this year. We did replace 90% of the pipes with plastic just because it is easier to work with. My guess is the plastic pipes won't last the fifty plus years the metal pipes did though.

    • tlpoague profile image
      Author

      Tammy 5 years ago from USA

      Thanks again K9,

      I am going to have to jot over a read a few of your hubs. I hear you won an award...Congrats! I love the way the deposits makes everything so chrystalized and green. It is a shame that it is such a bad thing. It would make for an interesting science project. The build up on this pipe took less than six months form. I have added a picture of a metal paint can to show how bad the water corroded it. Thanks for the vote up and stopping by.

    • K9keystrokes profile image

      India Arnold 5 years ago from Northern, California

      Great information on hard and soft water! Easy to understand and supper good points. I am amazed by your picture of hard water build up when affected by electrolysis, such a pretty green for such a bad thing! It is an intriguing world we live in to say the least! Up and awesome!

      Cheers~

      K9

    • tlpoague profile image
      Author

      Tammy 5 years ago from USA

      Thank Whitton,

      Sorry, I didn't realize you had made a hub that broke this down into greater detail. It is very informative. Thanks for sharing your link.

    • whitton profile image

      whitton 5 years ago