If you live in an area that has hard water, typically the centre, the east and the west of the UK, then it’s important for you to be aware of the consequences and how to combat them.
Hard water is water that has a high mineral content, which comes about due to rainwater taking on minerals as it travels through stones like chalk and limestone.
It’s easy to notice the limescale that builds up around taps, in the sink or in kettles, but less obvious is what is occurring within the components of your heating system.
If you don’t have a closed loop central heating system, then this issue is particularly applicable. The constant water flowing around your pipework will fairly quickly lead to a build-up of limescale inside.
Approximately 85% of a regular household’s yearly energy consumption goes on heating, with a large proportion of this used to heat water. If the magnesium and calcium deposits are allowed to build up, they can cause the pipes to narrow (much like clogged arteries around your heart) and restricting the flow of water around your system.
This will lead to extra stress on your heating system because it will have to work harder to push water around your system. Your pump will be putting in more effort to pump water around, the components in your boiler are more likely to overheat and you may find that your hot water is not getting as hot as you would like it.
The result of this means your system is much less efficient, causing higher heating bills and potentially high repair costs if your boiler breaks down. Usually, boiler breakdowns caused by scale build-up are not covered by manufacturer’s warranties, making this a very serious issue indeed. All caused by water that naturally contains minerals!
There are various ways of treating this such as salty water softeners (to remove the minerals from the water), electric field technology (which alters the composition of the minerals) and phosphate dosing. However, it really depends on your individual heating systems and type of boiler regarding which treatment is best to minimise limescale, so you should really be discussing it with your plumber.
It’s best practise to have an annual boiler and heating system check-up once per year as this can nip many central heating-related issues in the bud, helping to improve energy efficiency and heating costs, as well as averting an expensive breakdown.
Article by Benjamin Clarke
• The importance of annual heating system maintenance 7th Jul 2015
• General plumbing maintenance tips 26th Jul 2013
• How to fix a radiator that wont get hot 10th Apr 2014