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The Problem with Scale and Rust

What is Limescale?

Scale consists primarily of magnesium and calcium – two minerals which on their own are quite healthy. However, what is good for the body is not good for piping systems. The scale problem occurs when scale deposits in the piping system, machinery or on surfaces around pipes. Hard water contains high concentrations of calcium: the more calcium there is in the water, the bigger are these problems.

How Scale Problems Are Formed

Scale appears whenever hard water flows through a pipe. Calcium in untreated water crystallizes and becomes a sticky structure (see obr. 1). These sticky crystals adhere together and to surfaces to immediately produce solid scale deposits which have a very harmful effect.

Scale develops particularly fast whenever the water pressure changes. This occurs when water changes direction, bends or intersects, which causes turbulence. It can also occur when it exits the piping system through the faucet. This drop in pressure speeds up the formation of calcium crystals and scale deposits.

Other scale-related problems: rust and bacteria

Scale causes huge problems when it forms in pipe walls, blocking up the pipes. Unfortunately, scale deposits also catch other unwanted and potential harmful substances which create even greater threats.

Rust is common in scale

The building blocks of scale are calcium and magnesium. Thus, one would think that scale should have a white color. Yet, scale deposits are usually brown! When scale deposits build up, iron and oxidized iron particles get caught and are imbedded in the scale. Rust firmly attaches itself to the pipes, causing serious threats such as corrosion.

Scale is a breeding ground for bacteria

Scale deposits create perfect breeding grounds for bacteria and other micro-organisms. Since deposits are uneven and have rough surfaces, little sockets within scale build up becomes a perfect hideout in which bacteria can nest. Regardless of whether water is hot or cold, you will always be in danger from increases in potentially dangerous bacteria breeding within scale deposits.

Further problems caused by scale and rust

  • Blockages in the piping system
  • Reduced water pressure because of a smaller pipe diameter
  • Corrosion and rust accumulation
  • Bacteria in the drinking water
  • Constant repairs and replacement of damaged household appliances
  • Damage and replacement of the whole piping system
  • Reduced energy efficiency in the hot water circuit and higher heating costs
  • Dull surfaces in bathrooms and kitchens
  • High cleaning costs which require aggressive cleaning chemicals
  • Malfunctioning machinery
  • High maintenance costs
  • Production slowdowns for maintenance and cleaning which lead to inefficiency and problems with production planning
  • Decreased overall productivity