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Mineral Scale Prevention Guide

by Andrea Lawson

Mineral scale is a common, and sometimes expensive, problem for many households. You can't live without easy access to water, but that doesn't mean you have to live with scale buildup.

Causes of Mineral Scale

Mineral scale is caused by the presence of minerals in your water source. It is most common in municipal water sources in certain geographic regions. Minerals like lime, calcium, and magnesium dissolve in the water and become suspended. When the water is heated in your home, these minerals precipitate out of the water. This results in a white, gray, or yellowish scale coating.

Water testing can help determine whether or not you have mineral issues, also called hard water. You can also spot the symptoms of hard water. For example, you may notice a scale coating on shower surrounds, around faucets and taps, or on your glassware after they have been dried after washing.

Affects on Appliances and Plumbing

Scale is more than an issue with scummy residue. It can also destroy your appliances and plumbing. Those that use hot water are most affected. Water heaters can become filled with scale buildup, which reduces capacity and efficiency while increasing the chances of a leak. Dishwashers and washing machines are also prone to line blockages due to scale buildup. Even small appliances like coffee pots can be affected.

As for plumbing, most of the damages from scale buildup is in the hot water lines. The pipes themselves can become coated in hardened minerals, which blocks water flow, causes pressure problems, or leads to leaks. Faucet tap aerators can become blocked so there is reduced water flow, as well. Showerheads, toilets, and sink sprayer emitters can all become blocked by scale buildup. Stains on fixtures are also an issue.

Scale Mitigation Tactics

You can eliminate almost all hard water scale problems in your home by installing a water softener. The best option is to install a whole-house softener. This is attached to the water main so that all of the water is descaled before it flows through your home's plumbing and appliances.

If a whole home softener isn't an option, there are also point-of-use models. Some are installed inline with certain appliances, like the hot water heater. Others can be installed on the lines that feed your kitchen sink or your shower.

Contact a water softener dealer in your area if you are ready to put an end to mineral scale in your home.