Are Water Softeners Bad For Copper Pipes?

Last Updated on December 25, 2022 by

Are Water Softeners Bad For Copper Pipes?

Water softeners are widely used in homes with copper pipes, but it's important to understand the possible risks associated with them before making a decision. Soft Water treatment systems work by removing dissolved minerals from hard water - minerals that can cause limescale build-up inside pipes. Unfortunately, the same processes could damage copper pipes over time if not properly managed.

The chloride added to soften water may react with the metal found in some lining of copper pipes, leading to corrosion and loss of structural integrity. To ensure this doesn't happen, regular testing of water hardness is recommended and appropriate maintenance should be performed as needed.

Water specialists often recommend that homeowners install a water softener in order to reduce the concentration of minerals in their household water. Minerals such as calcium and magnesium can build up over time, leading to clogged pipes, spring leaks, and other plumbing issues.

A water softener works by removing these minerals from the water supply, making it much safer for use in your home. In addition to reducing mineral buildup, a water softener can also help prevent spring leaks from occurring due to corrosion caused by high levels of acidity or alkalinity in the water-flow volume of your home's water.

The salt used in a water softener helps protect against corrosion damage over time, making it an important part of any homeowner's plumbing maintenance routine.

So, What Exactly Is "Hard Water," And Why Does It Corrode Copper Pipes?

It's important to understand what "hard water" is before discussing whether or not it can cause damage to copper pipes. Hard water is simply water with high amounts of minerals such as calcium and magnesium dissolved in it.

When hard water comes into contact with certain metals, such as copper, it can lead to corrosion over time. This corrosion can weaken the metal and eventually cause the steel piping to crack or leak.

A water softener might seem like a good solution for combating hard water and its effects on your pipes. Unfortunately, softeners use salt to reduce mineral levels in the water.

What Effect Does Softened Water Have On Copper Pipes?

Softened water has an effect on copper pipes, but not necessarily a negative one. Softened water conditioning can have the same detrimental effects as hard water and even cause corrosion if it is particularly harsh or high in sodium chloride.

However, soft water that is properly balanced with additives and calcium carbonate can reduce the occurrence of scale buildup due to its low mineral content and acidic pH level. This kind of softened water for drinking may actually improve the life expectancy of copper pipes by minimizing mineral deposits that could accumulate within them over time.

What Causes Corrosion?

When it comes to copper pipe corrosion and water softeners, one question that often arises is what causes corrosion. Corrosion occurs when an electrolyte (in this case, water) carries an electrical current that reacts with the metal surface of the pipes. This reaction causes electrons to be released from the metal, resulting in a breakdown of the pipe material.

The presence of a certain concentration of softer minerals in hard water, such as calcium and magnesium, can enhance this process, leading to more pronounced corrosion damage in copper from pipes.

Additionally, when chlorine is present (as it often is in treated tap water), it can cause additional corrosion. High levels of acidity or alkalinity in water flow can also lead to corrosion damage over time.

Does a Water Softener Damage Your Plumbing System?

House Piping and Fixtures

When considering the effects of installing a water softener, one must ask if it can damage their plumbing fixtures system. Generally speaking, using a water softener won't damage your piping or fixtures.

The added salts used in a water softener to treat the hardness of the water use larger particles than those normally found in hot water which could potentially cause issues within your metal pipes wall over time.

Water Heater

Standard water heaters' use of a water softener can provide many benefits for your home including the reduction of hard water buildup and the prevention of clogged walls of metal pipes.

However, there is also the potential for a water softener to damage your plumbing system in certain cases. The salt used to soften hard water may corrode or corrode the metals with which it comes into contact.

Additionally, if too much salt is added to the system or if there is a deficiency in the system flush, then it can lead to mineral buildup in water piping and eventually cause blockage or breaks.

Boiler Concerns

When it comes to whether or not a water softener can damage your water distribution system, there is an important factor to consider: 

Boiler systems are susceptible to damage if hard water is used in them because of the high levels of calcium and magnesium present in the water. Water softeners help reduce this problem by removing these compounds from the water supply, which makes it much safer for boiler use.

Septic Systems

The question of whether or not a water softener can damage your plumbing system is one that many homeowners grapple with. While water softeners are a great way to reduce water hardness, they also have the potential to negatively impact your septic system and any leaks in copper pipes that you may have installed in your home.

The main issue with water softeners is that they replace hard minerals with sodium, which can end up corroding the surface of copper pipes. This corrosion can lead to tears and a slow buildup of sediment along the pipe walls that can eventually clog it and affect its flow.

Article Written & Fact Checked By


My name is Nathan Walters and I used to be a Mystery Shopper in my previous life. I love pizza, my 3 cats and fine wines! I also have a strange yet satisfying addiction to Netflix binges :) I am the Director of Best Reviews. I'm blessed to have a team of professionals in most fields who review and test products. Feel free to send me a message using the contact page!
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