Limescale Causes, Effects and Solutions

Limescale deposits, sometimes called mineral deposits, are chalky substances that can build up in many places water runs — including on your kitchen faucet, inside your water heater and throughout your bathrooms. They’re difficult to scrub away and even harder to prevent, because they’re often caused by your water itself.

Fortunately, it’s possible to eliminate limescale deposits — and the water hardness that causes them — with a water softener. Here’s what you need to know.

The What and Why of Limescale

If you’ve ever seen a crusty, scaled, gray-brown or white material caked around your fixtures and water-using appliances, you likely have limescale. This unsightly substance is mostly calcium carbonate, which occurs naturally in rocks all over the world. Because it isn’t easily dissolved in water, it’s often left behind after evaporation — and for the same reason, water-based “limescale remover” may not do much to remove these stains.

The good news is that it’s not harmful to your health, even when it’s in your drinking water. In fact, calcium carbonate can be found in many over-the-counter antacid products.

Of course, while calcium carbonate in your pantry may not be an issue, it’s a bit more problematic for your water pipes, fixtures and appliances. Limescale buildup can gather in these areas and lead to:

  • Reduced or less-efficient performance
  • Limited water pressure or water flow
  • Shorter appliance lifespan
  • Stubborn limescale stains
  • Increased cleaning time and cost
  • Greenish metal corrosion

So, how does this material get in your home to begin with? Often, the cause is hard water — that is, tap water with high levels of certain minerals such as calcium and magnesium. These minerals can gather and cause buildup throughout your home, particularly in areas where you use hot water.


The Top Solution for Limescale Buildup: Soft Water

You don’t want to just clean limescale, because you’ll just have to keep doing it over and over — you want to prevent it. That means you have to go to the source of the problem, which often leads you to your tap water.

If your water is hard, it’s full of minerals that don’t dissolve and tend to stick around after evaporation. That doesn’t just cause an unsightly stain or two; those same minerals can also dry out your skin and hair, make your laundry feel stiff and even lead to spots on your clean dishes. The problem is that calcium and magnesium in water aren’t visible to the naked eye. As a result, you may not know you have hard water until you start seeing these signs.

Any home can potentially have high water hardness levels, but it’s particularly common if you use a private or community well. On top of that, hardness can vary depending on your geographic location. As a result, you might have a lot of issues with mineral buildup while a friend in the same town has never noticed a single limescale deposit.

There’s good news, though: No matter your water hardness level, water softening can save the day.

That’s because water softeners are full of negatively charged resin beads. These beads attract positively charged hardness minerals and pull them right out of your water supply. The result is soft water, which doesn’t cause stubborn limescale buildup, dried-out skin and hair, stiff laundry or even soap spots. That’s a big difference — and all it takes is a tank full of beads and the brine mixture that cleans or “regenerates” them.

A Word on Water Softening

While there’s a water softener for just about every home, this isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. The higher the hardness level, the more work it takes for a softener to treat your water supply — so you need a system with the right capacity and hardness rating. On top of that, it’s a good idea to think about smart features (such as Wi-Fi compatibility, leak detection, water-usage monitoring and automatic salt refill notifications) before you choose the best softening system.

That’s why you should always start with a professional water test. Your local water expert can uncover your water hardness levels, recommend the best softeners for well water or municipal water, and even identify other potential water problems.

Saying Goodbye to Limescale for Good

It’s one thing to prevent limescale — but even if you get a water softener right this minute, you’ll still have to contend with the existing buildup and hard water stains. Here are a few tips for limescale removal:

Use Acid-Based Cleaners

Remember that calcium carbonate is used as an antacid, which means an acid could counteract it. You may be able to use limescale remover with hydrochloric acid or citric acid to see effective results.

Try DIY Solutions

Vinegar and lemon juice are also acidic, and they may already be in your kitchen. Apply one of these substances to a washcloth and tie it around your showerhead or other plumbing fixture for about an hour, then remove and rinse. For other areas in your home, you can put vinegar or lemon juice in a spray bottle with water, apply liberally, wait for an hour and then rinse.

What about the limescale in your pipes? Try pouring vinegar down your drains and leaving it for a few hours. You can also use a pipe snake to help simplify this process; just be sure to wear gloves.

Know Where To Look

Limescale is more obvious in some places than others. Here are a few spots you might find mineral deposits that need cleaning:

  • Showerheads
  • Shower doors
  • Kitchen and bathroom faucets
  • Bathtub, sink or counter tiles
  • Coffee pots and machines
  • Tea kettles
  • On, in or around water-using appliances
  • Inside the toilet bowl

Remember, limescale is more common in places where you use hot water.

Solve Your Limescale Problems

When it comes to limescale, prevention is a lot easier — and far more cost-effective over time — than trying to keep up with constant cleaning. All you have to do is find a water softener that works for your home, budget and hardness levels.

To get started, you’ll need a water test. Your local water expert will be able to check levels of hardness, iron, total dissolved solids and other potential contaminants — all in about 30 minutes.* After that, they’ll recommend the best combination of water treatment solutions, including softeners with all the right features and filtration systems where necessary.

Ready to take the first step? Schedule your free, in-home water test and consultation today.

*Contaminants may not be present in your water.