The harder the water, the higher the concentration of minerals, including magnesium and calcium. Although rainwater itself is soft, when it lands on porous rocks, such as limestone, it collects and dissolves particles from the rock. The more particles in the solution, the harder the water. When rainwater falls onto non-porous rocks, such as granite, it cannot penetrate the rock and therefore does not pick up any mineral particles.
One of the problems with hard water is that when it is heated, the molecules become agitated and deposit the minerals. This is why, depending on which part of the county you live in, kettles can be badly affected by the build-up of scale. It causes huge problems for commercial laundry companies, as well as hotels and healthcare facilities that do laundry in-house.
Which areas of the UK are affected by hard water?
The northeast, east, and southeast of England are the most badly affected hard water areas. People living and working in these areas understand the effects of hard water on their water systems only too well. Limescale in kettles is a daily irritation. Did you know, the more limescale you have in your kettle, the longer it takes to boil?
Higher water costs for businesses
Hard water can have a profound effect on costs to businesses, mainly in the manufacturing sector. The more limescale that is deposited, the more likely it is that pipes and valves will become blocked, which reduces the flow of water leading to machinery and appliances, resulting in decreased efficiency - in the same way that a kettle takes more energy to boil. This has implications on business utility bills as the machinery needs to use more energy to keep up with production.
The harder equipment must work, the more likely it is that it will eventually break down, leading to more frequent repairs than if operated in in soft water areas. Repairing damaged machinery also causes costly delays to production while the work is being carried out.
Another problem caused by scale is that it is an insulator that can cause hot spots and overheating. In steam boilers, overheating has the potential to cause significant damage to the appliance.
Prevention of scale in businesses
There are preventative measures those in hard water areas can take to minimise breakdowns and help maintain efficiency, such as cleaning pipes on a regular basis to clear the scale build-up before it becomes an expensive repair.
Many companies use a water softener system to treat their mains water supply. The system works by removing hard water particles and minerals before they can cause damage to pipes and machinery, providing a long-term, cost-effective solution.
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