One of the biggest cleaning challenges comes from the minerals in hard water. Yes, it’s lime scale, that chalky white or greenish mess that builds up on faucets and around drains. Removing and preventing lime scale requires a little no-nonsense know-how and a little knowledge about hard water and how to deal with it effectively.
How Hard Water Affects You and Your Plumbing
Hard water is safe and clean to drink and to bathe in. What makes it “hard” is the fact that it contains an above average concentration of minerals such as calcium, iron and magnesium. But that doesn’t make hard water desirable. In fact, the minerals give it a distinctive taste that is unpleasant to many. It also makes it harder to work up a lather with soap or shampoo and harder to rinse soap and detergent away, as well. It can make your skin feel dry and itchy as a result, make your clean clothes look dingy, and leave water spots on your dishes. Then there’s the effect it has on your plumbing.
You’re already aware of the unsightly build up of lime scale on faucets and around drains, but did you know that your mineral-laden hard water is also wreaking havoc around the joints in your pipes? Over time, this can lead to some nasty, tough to remove clogs!
Eliminating Existing Lime Scale
A mild acid solution is the best way to rid your fixtures of lime scale. The good news is that you probably have that very thing in your kitchen cupboards or pantry right now. That’s right — it’s vinegar, and it’ll weaken and dissolve most lime scale very efficiently and effectively. The best method is to remove your shower head, faucets, etc., if possible and submerge them in a pail of vinegar for an hour or so. The lime scale should flake right off with a little elbow grease and an old toothbrush.
Of course, removing fixtures isn’t always an option, so the next best thing is to fasten a “baggie” filled with vinegar around your faucet or shower head, or soak a rag in vinegar and secure it to your fixtures or pipe joints to let it work its magic.
If so much lime scale has built up that vinegar isn’t able to completely remove it, you can step it up a notch with a cleaner made to tackle calcium, lime and rust. Just be sure to wear rubber gloves since you’re using a stronger solution that could irritate or burn your skin. Bear in mind, that a harsher solution could also have an adverse affect on more delicate surfaces, so read the label carefully before applying it.
Lime Scale Prevention 101
The only sure way to rid your home’s plumbing and fixtures of lime scale once and for all is to install a whole-house water softening system, which will not only save your plumbing by counteracting the damaging effects of the minerals in hard water, but will also make your skin and hair healthier and your clothes and dishes cleaner in the bargain.
In Columbia and mid-Missouri, contact us at Brian Wear Plumbing to learn about the different types of water softening systems available to solve your hard water problems once and for all!