Hard Water Scale Buildup Causes and Solutions

scale buildup from hard water in water heaterYou may have heard about scale buildup in relation to equipment damage, clogged faucets or pipes, tile discoloration and shower stall cleaning difficulties. In simple terms, this effect is caused by mineralized water. When it combines with soap and other materials, it can form scales. Water that has picked up carbon dioxide is, by nature, slightly acidic. In beginning its cycle as rain, water falls to the ground and dissolves into underground aquifers. Along the way, it picks up minerals and becomes hard. In particular, hard water carries four minerals including calcium, sulfate, magnesium and carbonate. All water supplies, no matter where they are in the country, will have hard water to some degree.

What is Hard Water Scaling and How Does it Form?

Generally speaking, mineral molecules are combined with water molecules to make hard water. Nevertheless, when enough energy is applied, these minerals disengage from water molecules and settle on top of surfaces. This clingy material is called scale, and most homeowners are aware of a particular type called limescale. As this material accumulates, it forms a crust that can affect pipes, faucets, skin and the softness of your laundry.

Understanding how this mineral compound is dissolved and combines with water in the first place means grasping the idea of pH. The mid-ground of pH is 7.0, and it is a neutral pH. Acids have a pH below 7.0, and base, alkaline or caustic substances, like bleach, are above 7.0. To dissolve minerals and create hard water, the water supplies will be acidic. Scaling occurs when the pH level is not above the neutral 7.0 pH. Adjusting the pH to a neutral value will create water softening, reduce acidity, reduce alkalinity and reduce the deleterious scaling effects of hard water. Other catalysts for creating scaling include an energy transfer, heating or cooling.

The Effects of Hard Water Scaling on Water Facilities

In the hotel and food service industry, limescale creates significant problems with washing, heating, and cooling elements, and steam equipment. It also affects ice machines, coffee makers, pipes, drains, and utilities. Over time, hard water buildup causes long-term damage to appliances and causes the need for premature servicing. This means that operating costs increase and more utilities are used. In hot equipment like boilers, events, and steamers, the water will evaporate and leave behind concentrate and minerals.
Freezing water also has limescale issues. The sediment will grow into crystals that cause clogs, valve scoring, ice malformation, and tube restriction. To reduce this issue in hot or cold equipment, reverse osmosis equipment is installed or small amounts of nontoxic polyphosphates are added to soften the water.

How to Get Rid of Hard Water Scaling?

Looking to get rid of hard water scaling? Contact Clearwater Systems for a free water analysis. We can help to come up with a water purification solution that best meets your needs.