Of the 120,000 drinking water tests carried out in Bristol each year, more than 99.9% have been compliant with EU and UK drinking water standards. While the water quality may be high, the hardness level is also high.

Without a good water softener, you’ll be dealing with limescale build-up and other hard water complications

What’s Considered Hard Water?

Water becomes “hard” when minerals, like magnesium and calcium, dissolve into the water supply and move through the ground. The higher the concentration of these minerals, the harder the water.

As a general rule of thumb, water is considered soft, hard or very hard when calcium carbonate (total hardness) levels reach the following levels:

  • Soft: < 150 mg/l
  • Hard: 150-300 mg/l
  • Very hard: > 300 mg/l

Mg/l = milligrams per liter

How Hard is Bristol’s Water?

Although Bristol’s water supply meets UK and EU standards, it’s still hard.

The city’s water supply comes from surface waters, such as lakes, and is supplied by Eastville, Easton, Netham and St. Philips.

Here’s a breakdown of water content:

  • Calcium: 62 mg/l Ca
  • Magnesium: 9 mg/ Mg
  • Total Hardness: 192
  • pH: 7.62

Bristol does not add fluoride to its water supply, but there are low levels of naturally-occurring fluoride in the water supply.

What You Should Know about Hard Water

Hard water has no effect on your health and is not a reflection of the water’s quality. But hard water can be harmful to your fixtures and appliances that use water.

Over time, the minerals in the water leave deposits on fixtures, which can cause limescale build-up.

Limescale deposits can also form in kettles and irons. When water boils, limescale particles are free to float around in the water. These particles can interact with coffee and tea, and leave behind a film.

In some hot water systems, limescale build-up can form on hot water cylinders and hinder their efficiency. With electric showers, limescale can build-up on the heating element, but some of the limescale particles will remain in the water. For some people, these minerals can aggravate skin conditions and dry out hair. Showering in cooler water can help minimize the problem.

There are two types of appliances that can be installed in your home to keep limescale build-up to a minimum: water conditioners and water softeners.

Water Conditioners

There are two types of water conditioners: physical and chemical.

  • Physical: Physical conditioners alter the shape of limescale crystals, which prevents them from sticking to surfaces. Because the effect is temporary, these conditioners should be installed close to the unit that heats the water.
  • Chemical: These conditioners typically add phosphate to the water, which binds with magnesium and calcium. Because chemicals are added to the water, it’s important to have this type of conditioner installed by a professional.

Water conditioners do not remove calcium or magnesium from the water.

Water Softeners

Installing-a-water-softenerWater softeners actually remove calcium and magnesium from the water, which prevents the formation of limescale. Salt softeners and reverse osmosis systems are the most common types of water softeners.

If you have hard water in your home, you might consider one of these solutions to preserve your appliances and prevent limescale buildup on your fixtures. Contact us here at CRB Plumbing and Heating today if you wish to find out more about hard water and how to soften it.

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