Noticing a thick, crusty layer forming on your faucets? Or feeling a grainy layer on the bottom of your shower? There’s a good chance it’s limescale buildup. This naturally occurring residue raises a lot of questions for Boston homeowners who aren’t sure exactly what it is, whether they should be worried, or how to get rid of it effectively.

What is limescale?

Limescale is a chalky, crusty, substance commonly found throughout the home in areas where water is used regularly. It’s common for Boston homeowners to see limescale deposits around their faucets, in their tubs and showers, and inside their toilet bowls. If you’ve ever noticed white residue forming after boiling water in a kettle, that’s limescale.

Depending on where it develops and what compounds are present, limescale exhibits a range of characteristics. At times, this residue is pure white in color while having more of a yellowish or brownish tinge in others. The thickness also varies greatly as limescale can develop as a thin yet rough layer or as a thick build-up.

How does limescale develop?

Hard water is the primary cause of limescale build-up. As rainwater makes its way down through the ground, it passes over a variety of sedimentary rocks such as chalk and limescale whose minerals are picked up and washed away with the water. Eventually, this water is cycled into your home.

If you don’t have a water softener to remove the minerals present in the water, they’ll make their way into your home’s plumbing system. Limescale buildup occurs when hard water dries and leaves behind magnesium and calcium deposits. This can occur anywhere in your home where water is used regularly, although it’s most common in bathrooms and kitchens.

Can limescale be harmful?

The presence of a strange, yellowish residue is enough to cause concern for any Boston homeowner. In reality, though, limescale doesn’t pose a risk to the health of you and your family. If a bit chipped off into your water or coffee, it wouldn’t taste great. But other than that, you don’t have anything to worry about.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about your plumbing system. Limescale doesn’t just accumulate on faucets or in showers. It also builds up in piping which can lead to a host of plumbing issues including frustrating water pressure issues and worrisome blockages.  When you notice recurring plumbing problems, it’s time to call a plumber.

How do you remove limescale?

Getting rid of limescale isn’t easy, but it is possible. In fact, you most likely have the tools you need already laying around the house. Resist the urge to splash water on limescale build-up in an attempt to rub it off. As this water evaporates, the deposits left behind will only worsen the limescale accumulation. Here are some tools that actually work:

Coke – When you see the effect this powerful substance has on limescale, you’ll think twice about drinking it again. The phosphoric acid in the soda has the power to eat away at nearly anything. Pour it over limescale build-up and let it sit for a few minutes before wiping it off. Viola! It’s all gone.

Baking Soda – The overwhelming majority of Boston homeowners probably have this baking essential sitting in their pantries. When mixed with vinegar, baking soda creates a powerful chemical reaction with enough kick to break down pesky limescale deposits. This mixture is great for getting rid of thinner layers of limescale on the floor of your tub or shower.

Vinegar – It works great with baking soda, but vinegar is also effective on its own. You can either pour it directly over a limescale deposit or wet a rag before rubbing it away. Just make sure to fully wipe away the vinegar as it can damage faucets and countertops when left for too long.

Lemons – The high acidity of lemons make them a powerful agent against limescale buildup. Simply cut one in half and rub it over the deposits. Lemon juice works as an alternative if you’re in a pinch.

How to prevent limescale.

Whether you’ve already tackled limescale deposits around the house or have yet to encounter this unwelcomed guest, you’re probably wondering how to keep it from developing in the first place. Since the minerals present in hard water are the main culprits of limescale build-up, the most effective way to prevent this nuisance is by installing a water softener.

These systems are specifically designed to remove calcium, magnesium, and other potentially harmful sediments from the water before it’s used in your home. This is the only surefire way to keep limescale from building up in your home’s plumbing system.

If you’re ready to install a water softener to avoid limescale damage, the experts at Boston Standard plumbing can help! Schedule an appointment today to get started.

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