If you live in a hard water area, limescale will be no stranger to you. Limescale clogs up your cold water pipes, kettle elements, and worst of all bits of limescale get into your tea cups!
Limescale is formed as water drips through rocks on its journey down hills and through valleys to the reservoirs, dissolving small particles of ‘lime’ (Calcium Carbonate), which are then carried into our water supplies. From there it is treated and pumped to our homes, but the treatment only removes harmful bacteria and other pathogens, it doesn’t remove the Calcium Carbonate. Water that has a high content of Calcium Carbonate is described as ‘hard water’
Limescale bonds to a metal surface more easily in colder conditions. It is more easily dissolved in warmer water, which is why central heating pipes suffer less in hard water areas than drinking water does.
Limescale bonds to other limescale deposits easily, so once the bonding process starts to take place on your copper pipework the scale deposits grow quickly to partially block your pipes. With a strong water pressure, the loosest of the limescale is forced off, a little like a pressure washer, and these are the bits that get into shower heads and start to block the flow of water through the shower. As soon as the shower is switched off, the water in it cools down, and the limescale deposits start to collect on the deposits already in the shower head.
The build up reduces the size of the holes in the shower head rose. The result is a reduced flow from the shower which gives you a poorer shower experience. Howeverif you have a power shower, the blocked shower head puts greater pressure and strain on the pump as it tries to force water through the blocked holes, that are getting smaller and smaller. Find out more about how a power shower works in our projects section.
The answer? Clean your shower head regularly to avoid the build up of limescale.
Use Vinegar to Clean Your Shower Head
There are a number of chemicals on the market for cleaning shower heads and descaling kettles, but the best (and probably cheapest) DIY way, is to use distilled white vinegar.
You can either: take the shower head apart and place the bits in a container to soak them for an hour in the vinegar, or you can try an amazing little tip that we picked up from one of our users.
Pour the vinegar into a sandwich bag and tie it to the shower head in some way (an elastic band is ideal). Leave it there for about an hour and inspect. An hour is usually long enough, but more may be required if you live in a really hard water area, and then just run the shower for a minute wiping the shower head with a soft cloth or sponge, to remove the vinegar. Leaving the shower head in the vinegar for longer will not damage it, so you could use this process after your morning shower, go off to work while you shower head soaks in the vinegar, and rinse it when you come back.
Once you have descaled your shower head with the vinegar you can also use it to clean the taps, tiles and shower screen for a sparkling finish.