What lies beneath?

With kitchens and bathrooms costing tens of thousands of pounds it’s important that self-builders and homemakers protect their investment from the ravages of limescale

With 60% of the UK living in hard water areas limescale can be a real issue for many homeowners. Water becomes hard after passing through underground chalk beds containing calcium and magnesium, which clings to the water. Once these minerals are heated in kettles, boilers, dishwasher and washing machines they turn to limescale which causes significant damage around the home.

It’s not just the visible signs of limescale that self-builders and homemakers need to consider, but the damage that they cannot see inside their pipes. According to British Water, just a 1.6mm coating of limescale on a heating element makes it up to 12% less effective and significantly decreases their working life. This also means they have to work harder costing more to run.

Hard water is estimated to be responsible for 70% of equipment failure, so tackling limescale build up in equipment is essential to prevent breakdowns of household appliances like dishwashers and washing machines.

“Investing in the latest generation of water softener can extend the working life of household appliances by protecting the sensors and heating elements from the harmful effects of limescale build up,” explains Kevin Johnson, MD of Monarch Water and Technical Director of the UK Water Treatment Association. “This can only have positive implications for home owners such as cost savings and better results.”

Investing in a water softener is the affordable solution to all the issues limescale causes. They can either be installed during the self-build process or retrofitted with ease. Not only will they prevent any limescale building up, but they will remove any that’s already there.

“Water softeners can be fitted with any boiler so every hard water home can take advantage of the benefits they offer,” says Johnson. “Thanks to advances in technology water softeners have become more compact, efficient and sustainable.”

Inside story

Water softeners work by passing mains water through a sealed chamber containing thousands of tiny resin beads; specially formulated and charged with sodium ions. Calcium and magnesium ions in the hard water are then replaced by sodium ions resulting in soft water flowing out of the unit.

Once a certain volume of hard water has passed through, the water softener needs to regenerate, flushing its resin beads with a weak brine solution (salt mixed with water). This water is then flushed down the drain and does not enter the supply.

“Water softeners should be viewed as an investment and insurance to protect homes from the negative effects of limescale,” says Johnson. “By seeking professional advice self-builders and homemakers can benefit from the point of installation.”

Benefits of installing a water softener

  • Water softeners will not only prevent any limescale forming, but will remove any limescale already built up inside pipes.
  • Less toiletries, detergents and cleaning chemicals are needed
  • No more limescale deposits on skin, hair and clothes which can have a dull, drying effect
  • With savings of around £200 a year once installed the running costs of around £8-10 per household member per year mean the payback time is relatively quick
  • Whole house protection 24hours a day 365 days a year
  • Softened water has been classified as ‘wholesome water’ by WRAS