Hard water is present across most of the UK. Can this lead to issues with your heating or boiler system? Of course it can. Let’s discuss the causes of this and the harm that hard water causes to radiators, pipelines, and boilers.
Comparing soft and hard water
Let’s first discuss the distinction between soft and hard water. Let’s also avoid the amusing comparison of hard water to ice; water hardness has more to do with mineral content than temperature.
Calcium and magnesium are two dissolved minerals that are more prevalent in hard water. Less calcium and magnesium are dissolved in soft water, but more sodium is. Because of this, sodium pellets are used in water softening units to soften hard water by trading some of the calcium for sodium.
To be specific, hard water contains calcium and/or magnesium at an amount of 121 parts per million (or more). According to UK construction standards, if your water has a hardness of 200 ppm or higher, you may need to consider installing a water softening system in your house.
What Are the Signs That Your Water Is Hard?
Although some claim that drinking hard water is healthier for you, it can cause serious damage to your clothes, skin, and household appliances. So how do you determine the water’s hardness?
There won’t be any change for you to see or perhaps even taste. (Whether it tastes good depends on the type of water you usually drink.) However, hard water may be to blame if you have dry, itchy skin or dull hair since the extra minerals make it harder to completely rinse off shampoo or soap. Additionally, you can see blemishes on spotless glass, silverware, or pristine clothing, as well as mineral stains. Limescale build-up, which coats the interior of pipes, boilers, kettles, and pretty much anything else that contains water, can occur if hard water is not treated for an extended period of time.
Limescale: What Is It?
The hard, typically white or gray, chalk-like residue that may be stuck to the inside of your kettle is known as limescale. These deposits, which are composed of calcium carbonate, form when supposedly “hard water” passes through. Consequently, limescale buildups are frequently discovered inside of boilers and pipelines, especially older ones.
Limescale was once used to create Eifel marble, a well-liked building material in the 11th and 12th centuries, because of its resemblance to limestone. Yes, limescale can be used as a building material. Not exactly what you want to have slowly coating your pipes, then!
How Hard Water Affects Your Heating System
Although a little accumulation of limescale is pretty typical, a big accumulation can seriously harm your boiler, pipes, and radiators. When the heating coil in the boiler accumulates a significant layer of limescale, it can particularly cause issues. The efficiency of the heating coil may be compromised when the buildup thickens.
Limescale accumulation in other components of your heating system can cover (and hence effectively narrow) pipes. As a result, water moves more slowly through the pipes. Even worse, it may lessen the heat that is transferred from the water to the air outside. Either of these will force your boiler to work harder, increasing your energy costs. This could eventually result in your boiler having a shortened lifespan or, in the worst case scenario, a costly boiler breakdown.
How can you determine whether the buildup of limescale in your boiler or heating system is becoming a problem? Get your system checked thoroughly by a professional if these symptoms persist since unexpected noises like rattling or other strange noises, less heat than usual, or rising utility prices frequently indicate boiler problems.
What to Do If Your Water Is Hard
What should you do to maintain your boiler operating efficiently if your water is hard? The best course of action is to arrange routine boiler maintenance; this will prevent epic levels of limescale from accumulating. As was already mentioned, installing a separate water softening system may be a good idea if you reside in a region with extremely hard water. And a straightforward, risk-free DIY suggestion is to bleed your radiators on a regular basis; while this won’t affect limescale, getting rid of the additional air will keep your system operating at peak efficiency.
Call if you have issues with your boiler, radiator, or heating system. We’ll assist you in identifying (and resolving!) the issue.