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Tips for Solving Hard Water and Limescale Problems

What is Limescale?

Limescale is the tough white crust you might find in your kettle or on taps, a residue left behind when hard water evaporates. Hard water contains more minerals than soft water. Soft water contains few impurities, usually because it runs through granite or slate but hard water runs through chalk or limestone, picking up the minerals such as calcium or magnesium carbonate.

Hard water, Hand washing under running water When the water is used in your home, it can deposit limescale.

Hard water can reduce the effectiveness of some detergents but the biggest problem with hard water is that the limescale can clog up pipes, causing costly damages to homeowners and businesses.

Limescale also can coat the heating elements of your boiler and appliances, reducing their efficiency resulting in higher utility bills. 

Where is Hard Water Found?

60% of homes in Great Britain are in hard water areas as the land is composed of mostly limestone and chalk. London, Brighton, Southampton, Bristol, and Lincoln are regions most affected by hard water, with Manchester and Birmingham also affected by moderately hard water. Deposits on your dishes and silver, or porcelain fixtures can indicate a hard water problem. You can also have your water professionally tested by your municipal water department. 

How to Test for Hard Water?

You can do a simple test to see if you may have hard water in your home by doing the following test with liquid dish washing soap:

Find a clean empty plastic bottle with a cap and remove the cap;

Fill the bottle about halfway with water (8-10 ounces);

Add 10 drops of dish washing liquid;

Put the cap back on and shake well;

If the soapy solution foams up quickly you are okay and the water isn’t hard;

If it does not foam up but instead creates a milk-curd-like or soapy film on the water surface then the water is likely hard.

If you want a definitive answer then you can send a water sample out for testing to a certified water-testing laboratory.

How can I treat my limescale and hard water deposits?

1) Clean with malt vinegar or lemon juice. The acid will dissolve the limescale. However, this is really only practical for smaller items such as your dishes, silver, or tap fixtures and is only a temporary solution to the problem. 

2) Some people create a cleaning paste for stubborn stains, consisting of 1/2 cup of baking soda with 1/4 cup of undiluted white vinegar. Leave the paste on for half an hour and scrub away with nylon bristles and wipe clean with a towel. Again, this is only a short-term solution. 

3) For your washing machine or dishwasher, use a cup of vinegar or lemon juice in place of your regular detergent and run a full cycle. For a coffee maker or kettle, fill the kettle a quarter full with vinegar or lemon juice and leave for an hour. Then top up the kettle with water and boil it. Rinse the kettle or coffee machine thoroughly to avoid leaving the sour taste behind! 

4) Consider purchasing an electronic water softener for a more permanent solution to the problem of hard water and limescale.

There are many different electronic water conditioners available, such as Scalewatcher. These have been widely used since 1989 and are popular with homeowners because no harsh chemicals are used to soften the water. They work by treating water with low-level magnetic field and therefore are environmentally friendly and won’t ruin your water for drinking. They can reduce energy bills and extend the life of your appliances and some promise that if the device doesn’t fix your hard water and limescale problems, you get your money back!

scalewatcher electronic water softener


 

 

 

 

 

 

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