Everything You Need To Know About Hard Water

Hard water is measured by the amount of parts per million (ppm) of calcium and magnesium salts in your water. High PPM rates can result in the generation of limescale which affects showerheads & taps, household appliances and can also result in slow running water. If living in a hard water area with over 200 calcium and/or magnesium salts PPM measures should be taken to reduce the risks of limescale in the household.

What Is Hard Water?

Hard water is water that has high mineral content such as calcium and magnesium. Approximately 65% of the UK’s population is affected by hard water which causes scale to build up in pipes, washing machines and hot water systems.

If untreated the build-up of hard water cannot only leave unsightly deposits around taps and showers but can pose serious problems to the efficiency and effectiveness of everyday household appliances with a heating element and your hot water system – ultimately costing you money. You can follow this guide by Residence Style to solve hard water problems if you’re not aware of the solutions.

What is Limescale?

Though the salts in hard water are not harmful to humans, they can wreak havoc on appliances throughout the home, separating from the water as it is heated to form limescale crystals. When this accumulates in boilers, washing machines, dishwashers, kettles, showers and other appliances which heat the hard water in your pipes: problems begin to appear.

How Can Limescale Cost You Extra?

You may have noticed a limescale build up in your kettle, for example: a thin (or perhaps not so thin) crusty layer around the heating element in the bottom of the kettle. This is a sign that you live in a hard water area.

This element is what heats your water to boiling point. Ask yourself: how effectively can it do this with a layer of scale in the way? The same problem occurs in all systems and appliances which need to heat the hard water travelling around the system.

Symptoms of Hard Water

To see whether you suffer from hard water in your area simply answer these basic questions – if you answer yes to any one of them it is more than likely that you live in a hard water area.

Does your shower head or taps get clogged up regularly with limescale deposits?

Over time, limescale caused by hard water can build up and damage the shower head and taps. Not only does it reduce the power and efficiency of the appliances but it is difficult to clean off.

Do your hot taps run slower than normal due to the build up of limescale?

The build-up of limescale in pipes restricts the flow of water and clogs your water system.

Do you find that your appliances such as your boiler, kettle and washing machine breakdown easily?

Limescale acts as an insulator on heating elements, causing them to get much hotter than they should until they overheat and breakdown Alternatively why not try our hard water area map to see if the area you live in is affected by hard water.

Hard water is measured by the amount of calcium and magnesium salts in your water. This is expressed in the UK as parts per million (ppm) as follows:

Moderately Soft
Slightly Hard
Moderately Hard
Very Hard
0-50 ppm
50-100 ppm
100-150 ppm
150-200 ppm
200-300 ppm
300-400 ppm

If total water hardness exceed 200 ppm steps should be taken to treat the feed water to water heaters and the hot water circuit of combi boilers to reduce the rate of accumulation of limescale.

Not only will this prevent the common symptoms of hard water but it is also a legal requirement in accordance with Part L Building Compliance Guidelines which state:

Where the mains total water hardness exceeds 200 parts per million, provision should be made to treat the feed water to water heaters and the hot water circuit to reduce the build-up of limescale.

This is the recommended minimum standards for efficiency, system circulation, system preparation, hot water storage and commissioning for gas-fired, oil-fired, electric and solid fuel wet central heating systems.

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