Hard Water

Close up view of window with hard water build up on the glass.

So what is hard water?    Hard water is water that has a high mineral content; but it doesn’t stop there, it can be very corrosive to glass.  Yes, glass can actually corrode and break down microscopically.  Our water out here in the southwest is extremely corrosive to glass. There are a number of ways hard water corrosion accumulates on your windows. Hard water can occur during a remodel or even the construction of a new building.  This is because after the stucco is applied it needs to be kept moist during the curing process by being sprayed off at certain intervals over a period of several days with a garden hose.  Windows that are not protected with a plastic film will fall victim to severe hard water.  Another cause is a malfunctioning sprinkler or perhaps sprinklers that are working but the wind carries the water droplets to the windows.  A possible solution here would be to have a wind sensor hooked into the sprinkler system.  Hosing off the patio is another culprit; those water spots need to be removed.  Rain doesn’t cause any hard water problems on windows unless it runs off the roof or stucco and then on to the glass, then it can cause corrosion as well.

A window with severe hard water build up on the right side.

Another way to look at hard water or glass corrosion is imagine an old rusty car. You decide to remove the rust by various methods depending on the severity of the corrosion.  You use a combination of sand blasting, sand paper and a wire brush. You finish the job and remove the rust but now you have a bunch of holes all through the vehicle.  The reason you have holes now is because the rust has corroded the last bit of metal in those areas.  Now with glass you’re not going to end up with holes; instead, the surface gets distorted with corrosion marks or water spots that are beneath the surface of the glass.  The only way to remove these marks is actually grind down the surface of the glass until you reach the corrosion depth level.  No acid will work at this corrosion stage.  It takes very expensive specialized equipment to grind down and polish the surface of glass.  The moral of the story here is if you wait too long to do anything about removing your hard water it will become more costly to restore the glass than it will to replace.

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    Picture of a window with hard water.

    Mineral build up doesn’t just come from sprinklers.  It can accumulate through years and years of neglect.  If you haven’t had your windows professionally cleaned in 10 years, a normal window cleaning is not going to get them sparkling clean.  To get them sparkling clean a construction clean will be necessary.  This of course is at an additional cost.  This is why it is important to have your windows professional cleaned at least once per year.

    Shower door hard water with a buffed clean spot in the center.

    Hard water build up does not come off with normal window cleaning.  It takes special chemicals and restoration techniques to remove, not to mention a lot of extra labor.  The moral of the story here is if you wait too long to professionally clean your windows, or do anything about removing your hard water it will become more costly to restore the window than it will be to replace the window.

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