How is Hard Water Scale Like Road Salt?

Friday, January 29th, 2021 by Michelle Anderson


Dirty Car

For those living in cold weather climates, winter brings with it a wide range of emotions. The joy that comes with driving through the beauty of a winter wonderland is quickly taken away once you step out and see the dingy salt stains collecting on your vehicle’s paint job. Winter weather road salt and scale buildup in your plumbing have a lot more in common than you may think.

Winter Road Salt and Its Effects on Your Vehicle

Nearly every state in the U.S. will see snow and ice at some point and will need some kind of salt or sand applied to the roads to keep commuters safe. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, more than 70% of the nation’s roads are in snowy regions. Meaning, the majority of the nation’s roads receive an average of 5 inches or more of snow annually and nearly 70% of the US population lives in this area.

When roads are snowy and icy, they need to be chemically treated to ensure they are safe for driving. This deicing provided by municipalities lowers the freezing temperature of the surfaces it’s applied to and can include several different salt compounds mixed with water to make a brine solution. Treating roads ahead of the storm helps prevent snow and ice from sticking to the road, and after the storm helps melt the snow and ice, making it possible for car tires to make contact with the pavement to reduce slipping and sliding.

The downfall of deicing brine is that it will splash and get all over your car and its undercarriage. This can lead to a salt buildup. Salt buildup on the body of your car and wheel wells is easy to see, rather easy to wash off, but salt buildup can also happen on shock absorbers, nuts and bolts that hold your frame together, up into secret/hidden cavities and crevices, and on fuel and brake lines.

Water reacts with the salt to speed up the corrosion process on metal. The chemicals used in treating winter roads are all hygroscopic, meaning they all attract and retain moisture. This is a vicious cycle for your vehicle, but there are things you can do to help prevent costly repairs. Wax your car in the fall and throughout the winter, take it in for a car wash with undercarriage spray at least every week or 2. The small cost of this maintenance can save you a lot of money on repairs.

Hard Water Scale Build-Up and Its Effects on Your Home

Preventing scale buildup from hard water is also an excellent way to avoid costly repairs in your home. Scale buildup happens when hard water leaves small mineral deposits in your plumbing and water-using appliances. If you never washed your car during the winter months, the accumulated salt would be detrimental to your vehicle. With hard water, as time passes, these mineral deposits build up and begin to cause problems if you let them continue.

If the colder weather is dry enough to force you to run a humidifier in your home, you will probably notice a white, chalky substance forming on its heating element if you’re using hard water. This scale buildup is from the calcium minerals traveling with your water and is essentially a layer of rock forming inside your appliance. Just like making sure you use a car wash to rinse off road salt regularly before it can do damage to your car, this limescale build-up can be removed by soaking your humidifier, coffee pot, or other small appliances in vinegar. This easy routine will make a big difference in keeping your smaller
items safe from hard water damage.

What about your larger appliances? As scale builds up on the heating element in your water heater, it will form that layerScale Covered Heating Element from Washing Machine
of rock around it that will have to be heated before any warmth reaches your water, causing your water heater to slowly become less and less efficient. Over time, this will cost more money as the water heater needs to work harder for longer periods to make hot water. This additional energy needed will also put added stress on the heating element itself, shortening its lifespan so you will have to replace the part or the entire unit prematurely. It’s not just your water heater that suffers, studies show that scale buildup can cause a washing machine to wear out 30% faster, too! The key to avoiding these costly repairs is prevention and eliminating the hard water in your home.

How Soft Water Helps You Save

Installing a water softener in your home will remove the calcium minerals that make your water “hard” before it travels through your plumbing and appliances. Our advanced line of Evolve series systems can provide the easiest way to protect your water heater, dishwasher, washing machine, humidifier, and coffee pot from hard water damage. Plus, softened water is better for washing your car!

Your local authorized dealer can test your water to see exactly what’s in it and recommend the best Evolve water softener to solve your problems! Call us today to find out more.

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