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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

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Southeastern Filtration
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s e a rc h ...

s earc h c o m_ s e a r c h 58
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Home Introduction To Hard Water


Most water supplies contain certain amounts of dissolved minerals. Some of these minerals, like sodium, are very
soluble and will remain in solution despite changes in water characteristics like temperature. Other “hard” minerals,
calcium and magnesium, are not very soluble in water and have the propensity to precipitate out of solution as hard
mineral scale when water characteristics change. Changes such as pressure or temperature allow hard minerals to
fall out of solution in the form of hard tenacious mineral scale deposits often referred to as limescale. This is occurs
most frequently in processes or equipment that heat water.
Mineral scale deposits in water-fed equipment cause many problems. In water heating equipment, scale builds up in
layers on heat transfer surfaces, insulating water from efficient heat transfer resulting in higher energy costs. Scale
build up also increases maintenance costs and decreases equipment life.
Traditional methods for controlling mineral scale deposits include water softening. Water softening equipment
controls hard water scaling by removing scale-causing minerals from the water supply and replacing them with
“soft” minerals like sodium that will not form scale deposits. The main drawbacks to water softening include space
requirements, initial cost, electrical and drain requirements, and increasing environmental concerns.
The use of sequestering agents (polyphosphates) is another method of controlling mineral scale deposits. When
added to the water supply, these agents bond with scale-causing minerals making them more soluble in water
resulting in less mineral scale. This type of water treatment is widely used and effective in cold water applications
such as ice machines, but standard polyphosphate treatment has shown little or no effectiveness in controlling
mineral scale in high temperature applications (boilers, water heaters, coffee equipment, etc.)

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