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Perfect Heating And Plumbing Water Supply Problems

1. How is Hard Water Measured?

Hard water is measured by the amount of calcium and magnesium salts in your water. This is expressed in the UK as parts per million (ppm) as follows.

 

Description

Hardness PPM

Soft

0 - 50

Moderately Soft

50 - 100

Slightly Hard

100 - 150

Moderately Hard

150 - 200

Hard

200 - 300

Very Hard

300 +

Other measurement includes the following.

1 Mg/L = 1 ppm
1 Clark Degree = 14.3 ppm
1 German Degree = 17.8 ppm
1 French Degree = 10 ppm

2. How do I know how hard my water is?

In terms of measurement your water provider will advise how hard your supply is or you could use a simple colour test strip. These are available through plumber's merchants. The most visible sign in your household is usually the kettle where you would see clumps of scale in the water or baked onto the element.

3. What is the difference between a Scale inhibitor and a Water Softener?

A Water Softener uses salt and an ion exchange principal to remove the hard salts from your supply. Softened water is not considered suitable for drinking in all circumstances and a separate tap should be installed.

Scale inhibitors (a term covering all the various technologies) do not remove hard salts or soften the water hard water is considered beneficial to drink.

For information on water softeners read here

4. How do Scale Inhibitors work? (This is not Soft Water, Only Treated)


They change the behaviour and structure of the hard salts in the water (see diagram below) by imparting a natural or derived current into your supply.

crystals                                     crystals 2

Fig 1                                                               Fig 2
Hard Salt crystal formation
                      Formation after treatment

This encourages the salts to cling to each other rather than to heating elements or pipework. They are then swept away when water is drained off for use or deposits as a soft scale that is easily wiped away.

5. Where should a Scale Inhibitor be fitted?

Unless your Scale inhibitor is specially designed to protect a single appliance (e.g. Scalegon and Magnetic units - Lime master Gold) then position your unit as close to the incoming supply as possible - before any tee offs.

6. What results can I expect?

Results are affected by:

The quality of water supplied i.e. hardness etc.
The design of appliances being protected e.g. a kettle is scale friendly as you are taking a small amount of water up to boiling point in a very short time and the scale has nowhere to go.
Where scale was previously hard and adhesive making it difficult to remove, all remaining signs should now be softer and less adhering allowing deposits to be tipped or wiped away.

7. Is the water still safe to drink?

Yes, treated water is perfectly safe to drink, though some people may be able to taste the difference . The benefits of hard water for drinking purposes have been retained.

8. Is there any maintenance or running costs?

Most of Salamanders scale inhibitors are designed to be 'Fit and Forget' Electronic units consume ?2.00 to ?3.00 of electricity per annum and Scalgon/Aquacare require cartridge replenishment every six months.
 

9. How long do they last?

Products have been designed to last an average of 10 yrs or more.

 

10. My system is un-protected and already scaled up. What should I do?

Ideally you should seek to protect appliances from new. If your boiler scales up within six months you will be farced with unwelcome expenses as the manufacturer does not always cover this in their guarantees.

Appliances can be de-scaled using Lime scale remover and your central heating system can be Power flushed.

11. My pipes creak and tick

If the noise emanates from under the floor or within the walls, away from the boiler, then the most likely cause will be that the pipe's free movement has been constrained and the noise is thermal stress. (Radiators may also be heard to creak in their brackets)

Pipes expand when hot and contract as they cool.

For example, each 1-metre length of copper pipe-run will increase axially by 1 millimetre over a 60?C temperature gradient.

Adding treatment chemicals will not break the laws of physics!

If you wish to eliminate the noise then you have little choice but to lift the floorboards or break into the wall and make provision for movement. Pipes that run parallel to joists should be secured with clips that allow movement whereas pipes that run across joists should sit in large enough notches to accommodate felt lagging to cushion against rubbing.

Alternatively you might consider adjusting your programmer so that your system comes up to temperature (and cools) at times during the day when the creaking noises will be less obtrusive.

Humming noises usually emanate from the circulator pump. Vibration noises of this type can be caused by an ineffectual mounting bracket or wear to the impellor shaft/bearing.