Water Hardness

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Rainwater is naturally soft as it contains only small amounts of minerals.

As the water passes through chalk and limestone rocks, minerals (calcium or magnesium carbonate) in the rocks are dissolved in the water, making it hard.

Most of our area is sourced from moorland rivers and reservoirs and is classed as soft or moderately soft. In East Devon the water comes from deep underground boreholes and this water is classed as slightly or moderately hard.

If your water is classed as hard, you may choose to install water softeners in your home. However the Drinking Water Inspectorate recommends you don’t soften the water supply used for drinking water because it can increase the levels of sodium which is harmful if you have high blood pressure. It can also be more corrosive to metal pipework which leads to higher concentrations of metal in the water.

The table below lists some of the things that water hardness can mean for appliances and items within your home.

Item

Soft water areas

Hard water areas (mainly East Devon area)

Kettles

No special requirements

May discolour over time

Avoid re-boiling the same water to reduce limescale build-up.

Boilers and central heating systems

No special requirements

Set the boiler to below 60 degrees to avoid limescale.

Irons

No special requirements

Use the lowest appropriate tempera­ture to reduce limescale build-up.

Washing machines

Use the lower amounts of washing powders and fabric conditioners rec­ommended by manufacturers

May need more powder and condi­tioners. Limescale may build up over time.

Soap and washing-up liquid

Small amounts needed

May take longer and more to build up a lather.

Dishwashers

Use the lower settings recommended by manufacturers

Use the higher settings for softening as recommended by the manufac­turer. Consider using salt tablets.

Baths and fittings

No special requirements

Limescale likely to build up and may require regular use of anti-limescale cleaners