Hard Water Problems

Hard water in your home


Hard water in the home is evident as lime scale deposits.

Visually, they can be seen in the kettle, on taps, on sinks, on shower heads and screens, and in toilets. Your crockery and dishes will become spotty, with a film build up. But wait, let’s take a journey back into the pipe work, the areas that you do not see. Imagine that the hot water tank is just a bigger version of your kettle.

You will occasionally descale the lime from the kettle BUT how often do you descale the hot water system? The average household in a hard water area will have 70kg of scale a year enter the home via the water. Not all is left in your plumbing system, but enough to create hard water problems. The higher the temperature of the hard water the greater the problem. Washing machine will also suffer badly with hard water problems. This will cause more expensive maintenance call outs and repairs, or you will end up buying a new washing machine.   [Lime scale] Lime scale is essentially stone. The gritty deposits will quickly damage Taps, Showers, Appliances heating system components. In fact, anywhere the the hard water touches problems are created. Hot water heating efficiency will drop dramatically with hard water lime deposits. A couple of years of hard water in a hot water cylinder the heating element will be 25% less efficient. This makes the boiler or electrical element work much harder what a huge waste of fuel. This will cost you money. This huge energy waste will also increase you carbon emissions. These carbon emisions add to global warming. Solar hot water heating, home and swimming pool heating will rapidly lose its optimum efficiency, quickly negating its benefit.

Soap scum

Hard water and soaps/detergents do not mix well. Scum forms when soap mixes with hard water. This will certainly be evident in discoloration of the water making it look milky. Soap scum is a sticky substance. Visibly it will leave scum deposits in the basins, sinks, shower cubicle, bath etc. When dry and mixed with the lime scale deposits it is stubborn to remove. You can spend hours cleaning away these scum deposits. Scum deposit problems are not solely the visible ones. Soap scum will be left on your skin, making it feel dry and itchy. Bacteria can easily hide in the soap scum. Eczema and psoriasis sufferers typically will get increased aggravation of their condition. Your laundry will have soap scum attached to the fibres in the linens, towel, and clothes that you wash. Dirt that you were trying to wash away sticks to these fibres making the laundry look dull and whites grey in colour. Hard water washing will damage the fibres, causing between 20% and %50% reduction in the life of the laundry. Inside the washing machine the scum and grime builds up. The washing waste and drainage will form horrible grey lumps leading to blockages. Yet more call outs!  You will use excessive soap before you get any lather. Then you can wash. But, as soon as you rinse the hard water makes the scum appear again. There is no winning with soap scum.

What is water hardness

Hard water contains dissolved minerals, Calcium and Magnesium salts. Hard water occurs where the geology in the ground has these elements present. As rain passes through and over these minerals small amounts are dissolved by the water. Pure water will contain no measure of hardness. The measurement of water hardness is measured by various different scales, mg/l (or parts per million – ppm) is today a more commonly quoted measurement. The higher the concentration of Calcium and Magnesium salts result in a higher level of water hardness. (Other scales could be quoted in grains per gallon, Clark degrees, French degrees or German degrees.) There are two types of water hardness, Permanent hardness and Temporary hardness.  The mix and type of Permanent and Temporary hardness depend on the type of salts that are present.

Permanent hardness will contain Sulphates of calcium and magnesium. These will remain soluble in the water even when heated or boiled, affecting how the soap behaves.
Temporary hardness will usually contain dissolved calcium carbonate. These cause a formation of lime scale that is whitish in colour where water is heated or boiled. The build up that you see in kettles and hot water heating systems.

Hard water classification

Soft water 0 to 60 mg/l;
moderately hard water 60 to 120 mg/l;
hard water 120 to 200 mg/l and
Very hard water above 200 mg/l.

What is my water hardness

To find out the water hardness (and general quality) in your area visit one of these links.

Where does it occur

Hard water occurs in many parts of the UK.  England has the most hard water areas. Variations in water hardness occur depending on where you live. Have a look at this Map of England and Wales showing where hard water is found.

Can it be removed?

YES. Install a water softener. Have a look at how your home will be with the water hardness removed. Softened water benefits.

  • Trading Standards
  • Which
  • FSB
  • Bark