Rain water is naturally soft but once it falls on the ground and filters through rocks it picks up natural minerals, such as calcium and magnesium. The hardness of the water supply depends on the local landscape.
Not for health reasons, but if you live in a hard water area then a softener will improve the efficiency and increase the life of domestic appliances (e.g. washing machines). It will make lathering easier and reduce tide marks on sanitary ware, but it is advisable to retain an unsoftened supply for drinking.
Consumer advice leaflets on www.DWI.gov.uk have more detail on water hardness.
Hard water can lead to the furring and scaling of heating systems, kettles, dishwashers, sinks and toilets. Here are some tips for what you can do remove furring and scaling:
Kettles - Half fill the kettle with water, add two tablespoons of white vinegar and leave it for four hours, after which you can empty the kettle and remove the loosened scale. Rinse and repeat as necessary. You can also buy a scale remover and follow the instructions on the packet.
Dishwashers - Many have a built-in water softener to provide water for rinsing dishes. You should also regularly top up your machine up with dishwasher salt.
Baths, sinks and toilets - Lime scale is caused by deposits of salts of calcium found in hard water. For the best results clean regularly using a liquid cleaner. If the lime scale persists in your toilet you may want to regularly clean the pan with an acid-type sanitiser available from hardware stores and supermarkets.
Are you having problems with hard water?
Please contact your local water company. Don’t know who your supplier is? Find out here