When reading through our customer feedback and online plumbing forums, we see a lot of comments relating to hard water and limescale and the problems that can be caused for showers. Those who live in hard water areas may find a lot of issues are encountered with their showers, as well as other household appliances such as kettles and washing machines.
What is Hard Water?
Hard water has a high mineral content (when compared to soft water) and is found in many areas of the UK. Please see the map below for areas affected by hard water:
Hard water is not harmful to our health, but it can cause serious problems for equipment that handles water e.g. boilers and showers because the minerals in the water form deposits that can clog plumbing. This hard, off-white, chalky deposit is called limescale.
Limescale is often found around the home, on kettles, taps and shower heads. We’re all familiar with a kettle that has been affected by limescale (please see picture below), and the need to descale our kettles – but did you know that electric showers can be affected in exactly the same way? If you’re finding that your electric showers are failing after 18 months/2 years, there’s a very strong possibility that it could be down to limescale.
How To Remove Limescale
Descaling agents can be used to remove limescale, and there are many products available in shops, but two of the best methods are lemon juice and white vinegar, both of which are acidic and will break down the alkaline properties of the limescale. Lemon juice will leave behind a lovely smell, but vinegar can often work best on more stubborn deposits.
Removing limescale is not as straight forward as simply wiping it away, it needs to be soaked in the acid, and it therefore necessary to make sure the appropriate acid stays in contact with the limescale for a long enough time to do its job. With a shower head, for example, it may be necessary to remove the head from the hose and submerge it in a solution overnight to break up the limescale.
Please note: Before using any products, make sure they are suitable for use on the materials in your household.
Solutions for Hard Water
But, removing limescale from the outside of your products will not solve your hard water problem, and there is still the chance that the shower will have problems, and possibly even breakdown. Electric showers in particular work in a very similar way to a kettle – imagine how the element in a kettle can be damaged – that could be happening to the element inside your electric shower.
Water softeners are commonly used in areas of hard water to reduce the adverse effects caused. There are many different types of water softener s and descalers available. Your local water board or plumber may be able to recommend the most suitable system for your home.
Gainsborough Showers and Hard Water
Some of our showers have a phased shutdown feature. This is an intelligent feature which flushes residual hot water from the shower once it is turned off. Not only does this protect the next user from potentially scalding themselves, it also helps to cut down on limescale build-up. If hard water is a problem for you, look for the Phased Shutdown Feature on your next Gainsborough shower.