Hard Water Problems
Hard Water Problems
Water described as “hard” means it is high in dissolved minerals, specifically calcium and magnesium. Hard water is not a health risk, but a nuisance because of its tendancy to cause mineral buildup in water pipe and heating systems, and its poor soap and/or detergent performance when compared with soft water.
Water is a good solvent and picks up impurities easily. When it combines with carbon dioxide in the air to form very weak carbonic acid, an even better solvent results.
As water moves through soil and rock, it dissolves very small amounts of minerals and holds them in solution. Calcium and magnesium dissolved in water are the two most common minerals that make water “hard.” The degree of hardness becomes greater as the calcium and magnesium content increases.
What Can You Do?
There are a number of tips you can follow to reduce the effects of hard water in your home, without having to make any major changes:
Choose a correct laundry detergent – Some laundry detergents do not produce as many suds in hard water, these are likely to be soap-based products and do not work as well in hard-water as detergent based products. Nowadays, there are washing powders and liquids available for a wide range of water hardness. Make sure you choose the correct detergent for your area; you may also need to use slightly more detergent than the manufacturers recommended amount to compensate for the hard water. In many cases the manufacturer will give specific instructions on how to use the product in hard water areas, look out for these labels on your product.
Reduce the temperature of your boiler – As the water temperature increases, the more mineral deposits will appear in your dishwasher, water tank and pipes. By reducing the heat of your boiler to about 55ºC, you will have enough hot water for your shower and you will reduce the amount of mineral build-up in your pipes and tanks. Use rinse agents to remove mineral deposits – There are many rinse agents available to remove mineral deposits from crockery and dishwasher. Alternatively, you can use white vinegar by using the dishwasher dispenser or placing a cup of vinegar on the dishwasher rack. Boil some white vinegar in your kettle as a useful way of removing hard water deposits.
Water conditioners or Water Softeners?
Traditionally the water treatment market had one main solution to hard water. This solution was water softeners. However, in recent years alternative treatments have become increasingly popular, the most interesting of which is electromagnetic water conditioning.
Water Softeners work by ion exchange, so sodium replaces the calcium and/or magnesium in the water. Water Conditioners on the other hand create a magnetic field around your pipework which alters the ions in the water so that they loose their ability to cause scale. In tackling hard water, both methods will reduce limescale. Water Conditioners are significantly less expensive to start with and they have negligible running costs. Water Softeners cost a lot more but have the added effect that they will treat very small amounts of other metals such as Copper, Iron or Zinc.
More information on Magnetic Water Conditioners
More information on Mechanical Water Softeners