Four ways to prevent and remove limescale
What is limescale?
Limescale is a natural by-product of hard water. In hard water, there is a large concentration of minerals such as calcium and magnesium. When this water evaporates, it leaves behind these mineral deposits – this is the white or green crust that comes to mind when we think of limescale.
With 60% of English homes being affected by hard water, you may find yourself having to service or even replace dishwashers, washing machines and shower heads more frequently. Drain Doctor have been dealing with limescale for 25 years and we want to share what we’ve learnt with you.
Unsure if your home is affected by hard water? You can find out how hard the water is in your area by typing in your postcode here.
Why you need to remove limescale
The main reason why you’ll want to remove limescale is because of the impact it has on your wallet.
Limescale reduces the efficiency and life span of your appliances, meaning you’ll find yourself frequently replacing items. This is particularly true for shower heads, which can easily become clogged through limescale build-up, leading to an infuriatingly reduced water pressure.
These blockages will further hurt your pocket by increasing the amount of energy needed to reach the required heat and pressure. Limescale has also been known to damage the seals of taps which, over time, will result in leaks, costing you the bill of hiring a plumber.
Not only this, but limescale can ultimately devalue your property by spoiling the overall look of your home’s fittings. In some cases, it can cause irreversible damage to chrome fittings where chrome has peeled away under strain of the tough substance.
Remember that the longer you leave limescale the more it will build up and become increasingly difficult to remove.
How to get rid of limescale
Invest in a water softener
If you live in a hard water area, you might want to consider having a water softener installed to reduce limescale build-up.
Water softeners work by using a process called ion exchange. This essentially removes the calcium and magnesium minerals from the water supply, transforming the hard water into soft water. They do this by using negatively charged polymer resin beads to attract the minerals in hard water and replace them with sodium ions.
Once this process is complete, water softeners will pass a salt water solution through the resin beads to detach the minerals they captured. This process is called regeneration.
You’ll need to check your water softener at least once a month to ensure it has enough salt to function properly.
Install a salt-free water softener
If you’re looking for a more economical and compact alternative to traditional salt-based water softeners, you should consider a salt-free water softener.
Like traditional water softeners, these systems are effective at preventing limescale. Unlike traditional water softeners, they do not actually soften water.
Instead of removing calcium and magnesium minerals from water as traditional water softeners do, salt-free water softeners neutralise these minerals by altering their chemical structure so that they cannot attach to surfaces.
These types of water softeners have the benefit of removing limescale while being cheaper and easier to maintain than typical water softeners. However, they do mean that you won’t be able to receive the other benefits of having soft water. This includes softer hair, skin and clothes, as well as a reduced use of soap and detergent.
If you are only looking to reduce limescale however, salt-free water softeners may be the better option for you.
Clean your appliances regularly
In order to avoid stubborn limescale build-up, you’ll need to regularly clean and maintain your appliances.
We recommend wiping over all wet fittings after every use, with particular attention given to areas where water can sit, such as showers, sinks and baths. Keeping items dry will prevent limescale by stopping water from evaporating and leaving mineral deposits.
You should tackle limescale as soon as you notice it beginning to form, and ideally be cleaning at least once a week to prevent it from building up.
Make a DIY limescale remover
Keep on top of your cleaning routine by creating your own DIY limescale remover.
Simply mix one part white vinegar with one part water. Either spray this mixture over areas with limescale or soak a clean tea towel in it and wrap this tightly around the fitting.
Leave the solution to sit for at least 10 minutes (increase this to several hours or leave overnight for particularly stubborn patches). Wipe away the solution with a clean cloth. We suggest using a fragranced spray afterwards to mask the strong vinegar smell.
You may also want to consider using an old toothbrush or even a metal spoon to scrape away extra tough areas. However, we caution you do so at your own risk since this can scratch surfaces.
Contact your local Drain Doctor if you need further advice on what to do if limescale is taking over your property by calling 0808 3019 706 for 24/7 support.