Boilers are essential in UK homes as they provide central heating and hot water when needed. Combi boilers heat water by directly integrating with the direct water supply system.
Since boilers are mechanical systems, they are susceptible to operational problems now and then. Hard water is the primary cause of boiler malfunctions. From scale build-up to pipe blockages, this article aims to feed you knowledge on how hard water affects the boiler.
What is Hard Water?
Hard water is water containing loads of dissolved minerals such as magnesium and calcium. Rainwater can serve as an excellent example to help you distinguish between soft and hard water. It falls as natural soft water but becomes hard after moving through porous rocks absorbing and collecting mineral deposits. Although it is safe to consume hard water, it can lead to future water equipment problems.
Where you live will determine the degree of hardness or softness of your water supply. In the UK, 60% of homes in Wales and England receive hard water, where properties around London are most affected. In domestic applications, hard water makes it difficult to do your laundry as it takes longer to lather. There is also a possibility that it can cause irritation in individuals with sensitive skin.
What Are the Effects of Hard Water?
Hard water causes a handful of annoyances in your home, both minor and major. Here are some of its most common effects around your home:
Limescale Build Up
Appliances with frequent hard water involvement are most susceptible to limescale build-up. It is terrible news for the equipment as it limits their efficiency and lifespan.
Reduces Energy Efficiency
Hard water affects the energy consumption of the boiler. Local research shows that limescale reduces your boiler’s efficiency by up to 12%, making it hard for the boiler to heat water. The limescale build-up congests the pipes involved in heating and distribution, making it take longer to heat water. In the long run, your boiling system takes more time to heat water, which reduces energy efficiency.
Shortens Appliance Lifespan
The hard water supply in your home harms the lifespan of your appliances. The kettling effect is the primary aspect to blame. It puts additional strain on the system. As a result, the system works under pressure and eventually gives in, decreasing efficiency with time and shortening the boiler’s lifespan.
Reduce Water Quality
The waste mineral deposits left behind within the pipes due to the hard water supply affect the water quality from your taps. You may observe cloudy water upon opening your taps instead of sparkling clean, see-through water. The murky nature is because of large amounts of mineral deposits within the pipes, and this is why regular cleaning of your boiler system pipes is necessary.
The most significant application of water in every home is cleaning. Frequent cleaning using hard water can lead to dulling the cleaned items like glass and ceramics over time. It is also harder to lather soap or laundry detergent, extending the time it takes to complete your chores.
How Hard Water Affects Your Boiler
Most of the issues related to hard water and your boiler are due to limescale build-up. These deposits cling to your boiler element and end up clogging the central heating pipes, resulting in reduced efficiency and a shorter lifespan. It will increase your energy bills and decrease the performance of the boiler.
The kettling effect is also another concern brought about by limescale build-up. It blocks the pipes due to limescale deposits, and the water trapped gets too hot that it turns to steam and causes a noise very similar to that of a boiling kettle.
How to Deal with Hard Water
If your heating system is already showing signs of limescale build-up, don’t worry! There are dozens of ways to take care of it. For small equipment like showerheads and kettles, natural cleaning procedures are enough. Boilers and other big appliances will require a more intense approach, and adding a water softener is the most popular approach. Boiler replacement is also an option if you feel your water supply system is affected badly.
A water softener is an appliance that uses the practicality of the ion exchange process. It is fitted to the main supply and replaces hard water minerals with sodium. It effectively softens hard water, but with one disadvantage that it leaves massive loads of sodium in your water supply. If this is a concern for you, you should consider a separate tap explicitly for consumption—most boiler installation companies advise their customers on whether they may require a water softener installation or not.
Although installing and running a water softener is moderately costly, it has an absolute difference in your boiler’s efficiency and lifespan. There is a lot of cutting and soldering involved in the installation process, and letting a professional handle it, is recommended.
Understanding the hard water and its effect on your home boiler is vital in maintaining your central heating system. If your area has hard water supply, water softeners will help you protect your water appliances. If your boiler is already affected due to hard water, the experts at The Boiler Installation Specialists can help you. Be it service, maintenance, replacement or new installation; we can do it all. Contact us today!