Black & White Image Of A Water Pipe

22 May. 18

How Hard Water Affects Commercial and Industrial Properties

London and the South East of England are some of the areas most affected by hard water in the UK. But the reality is around 60% of the UK is classed as having hard or very hard water. Its effects on your household fixtures and fittings are obvious and visible. But the effect of hard water on industrial and commercial properties can be wide-ranging and devastating. Read on to find out how hard water affects a wide variety of industries and what can be done about it. 

What causes hard water?

Water is considered hard if it has a high concentration of dissolved minerals like magnesium and calcium. These elements can be picked up by groundwater as it passes through soil and rocks. Although they are naturally-occurring, excessive amounts in the water can cause a wide range of, potentially, serious issues. The presence of limescale is the most obvious sign that your area’s water is hard, but it isn’t the only one.

What are the effects of hard water on Industry?

From clogged pipes to hot-water equipment failure, many commercial building owners and facilities managers are aware of the problems caused by hard water. But the impact of hard water on the lifespan of plumbing infrastructure, energy use and the environment may be less well known.

Hard water’s impact on infrastructure

Hard water can drastically reduce the lifespan of industrial and commercial equipment. This is due to minerals being deposited and hardening on most appliances they come into sustained contact with. Over time this can cause equipment to fail and require repairing or replacing.

It is possible to salvage equipment by periodically flushing impurities to the drain and replacing the water in the boiler. But this means using water, energy and chemicals, which means more resources being literally flushed down the drain.

Hard water’s impact on energy consumption

Having a commercial property in a hard water area can have a huge impact on your energy consumption. Over time, the minerals found in hard water can settle on heating elements and the internal surfaces of boilers. This build up of scale reduces the efficiency of the heating elements, making it require more energy to heat the surrounding water. Left untreated, this can end up costing you a fortune in increased utility bills as the boilers use more energy to provide the same heating output.

Hard water’s impact on the environment

Although hard water doesn’t have a direct negative impact on the environment, its presence can lead to other issues further down the line. For example, soap and detergent are much less effective when used in hard water. So to achieve the same cleaning results as a soft water wash requires twice as much detergent. More detergent going into the sewer can cause damage to the local environment as it travels through the water cycle.

Similarly, an increase in the amount of heat needed in a boiler or heating stack requires the use of more energy. Much of our energy still comes from the burning of fossil fuels, the impact of which is well documented. So, hard water reducing the effectiveness of heating elements can generate more pollution through excessive energy usage.

What are some hard water solutions?

Although hard water can be a problem for commercial and industrial properties across the UK, it is one that can be overcome. For homeowners, the use of white vinegar can generally remove scale from faucets and showerheads. For industrial equipment, this isn’t really possible. Instead, the most effective ways to deal with hard water is to first remove the scaling before attempting to soften the water that your property uses.

Industrial pipe descaling

To remove the hard water buildup that has already formed in your pipes and drains, a drain jetting may save you from the costly and time consuming splitting or replacing of any pipe work. Drain Jetting (also sometimes referred to as High Pressure Water Jetting), involves the use of highly pressurised water being shot through a hose with a jetting nozzle to effectively clear blocked drains. The flexibility of the hose allows it to extend far down within the pipes, helping to remove obstructions from even the most hard to reach areas.

Transition from hard water to soft water

The problems associated with hard water in industrial and commercial properties can be minimised by using a water softener. Water softeners help to reduce the amount of scale forming on and inside machines and appliances, which can stop equipment from overheating and wasting energy. Using soft water can also increase the lifespan of your machines, saving money on equipment repair and replacement.

To begin the transition to soft water, it’s important to first determine how hard your water is. A professional water analysis and site survey will be able to tell you this, along with the best solution for your commercial or industrial property. Although many water-softening solutions are available, some of which you could do yourself, it’s important to always seek the consultation of a water treatment expert to make sure you’re getting the best recommendation for your needs.

To talk to an expert about your industrial or commercial hard water problems, contact our friendly team today on 0800 612 8038. You can also email us at info@drains247.co.uk. Our drainage specialists will be able to perform a fixed price survey and recommend the best course of action for your situation.