Many people have to contend with white scale taking over their sinks, faucets and plumbing fixtures. It’s annoying to spend time scrubbing the sinks and tubs every couple of weeks, only to have the white scale return shortly after. This white scale is also known as limescale, and these dirty white chalky deposits are very common in hard water areas. It’s not unusual to see limescale collecting on faucets, these deposit stick to any hard surface and they are hard to remove. Let’s take a closer look at limescale, its relationship with hard water and how to deal with it.  

What is Hard Water? 

Hard water has a high mineral content. This is usually high levels of calcium and magnesium bicarbonate, but other minerals could also be present. These minerals are present because water is a highly effective solvent that can dissolve a wide variety of materials. Many American homes suffer from hard water, and this can be easily observed in the residues of limescale discussed earlier. As annoying as the limescale deposits can be, they pale in comparison to the hidden damage that can be caused by limescale. 

Should You be Concerned About Hard Water? 

The dissolved bicarbonate compounds in hard water are precipitous during a temperature rise and any water using appliances that heat water will develop limescale. This will have a detrimental effect on water heaters, washers and dishwashers, repairs will be required, and premature equipment failure is a distinct possibility. Water using appliances that are affected by scale may also be less efficient and use more energy. The hot water in our homes is delivered by an infrastructure of pipes that over time will also develop problems with limescale. The flow of water will become slower as the scale builds up inside the pipes and the water pressure will drop. In extreme cases, this could necessitate the replacement of large sections of the pipes in your home. 

Dealing with Hard Water and Limescale: 

There are several methods available to effectively deal with hard water and limescale issues in your home. The primary method used by many people is the installation of a salt based or salt free water softener.  

A traditional salt based water softener uses salt and an ion exchanger to exchange calcium or magnesium ion for sodium ions. This method is very effective, but it has been criticized in recent years for not being environmentally friendly. It is true that earlier models of salt using water softeners did release a significant amount of salt into the drain after use. This is no longer the case; modern salt based water softeners release are very efficient and release virtually no salt.

With more than 25 years experience in the residential and commercial water treatment space, Terry is a WQA (Water Quality Association) certified water specialist, LEVEL 3, as well as a WQA certified sales representative. Terry currently sits on EcoWater Systems (a Berkshire Hathaway Company) national Peers committee, as a water treatment expert advising other water professionals with less experience on best trade and technology practices. EcoWater Systems of Nebraska is one of the biggest water treatment and water delivery businesses in the state.