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How Does the Hard Water in London Affect My Drains?

Old Bathroom Sink Faucet contaminated with calcium and grime. Hard water flows from an old tap aerator. - 1st Call Drain Clearance & Technical Services

Whilst most people are familiar with the term ‘hard water’, many individuals don’t quite understand what this means. Hard water is an issue that affects nearly 60% of the houses in the UK, but nowhere is it more prevalent than in London. Whilst this may seem inconsequential, hard water can have a detrimental impact on your drainage system. If you live in the capital city, it’s vital that you’re aware of what hard water is and just how it can affect your drains.

Luckily, the industry experts here at 1st Call Drain Clearance & Technical Services are here to answer all your questions, so that you can reduce the damage that hard water causes your drains.


What is hard water?

In simple terms, hard water contains a high mineral content, primarily magnesium and calcium. These minerals are typically acquired when groundwater flows over or through limestone or other mineral-rich rocks. By contrast, soft water is free from these minerals and has a lower concentration of dissolved ions. 


Why does London have hard water?

London Tower Bridge over Thames river. UK, England. Great Britain, United Kingdom 1st Call Drain Clearance & Technical Services

London is notorious for its hard water and — despite the city being served by four different water companies — you will likely receive hard water no matter who your water supplier is. But what exactly causes this? The answer lies in the city’s two major water sources — the River Thames to the west and the River Lea to the East. The South-East region of the UK is geologically composed of chalk-based rocks, which the tributaries of these two rivers run through. Consequently, when these tributaries merge with the main river, they carry along these mineral deposits.


How does hard water affect my drains?

Over time, hard water can cause your drains to become clogged. When hard water reacts with soap, it contributes towards the formation of soap scum. This stubborn residue can harden into a solid blockage as it travels down your pipes, limiting water flow. This can reduce water pressure, slow down drainage and cause frequent clogs.

If you live in a hard water area and frequently use your kettle, you may have noticed that a white, chalky buildup has developed over time. This is formed when hard water evaporates, leaving behind mineral deposits known as limescale. As well as kettles, limescale can frequently be found in dishwashers, washing machines and central heating systems. The presence of limescale in these appliances can impair their efficiency and functionality, making regular maintenance and descaling necessary.

The presence of limescale inside your drains creates several problems. If limescale deposits accumulate, they can reduce the diameter of your pipes which can restrict water flow. Furthermore, limescale acts as a rough surface which can trap hair, grease and soap scum, causing it to adhere to the pipes and exacerbate any existing clogs. These stubborn blockages can reduce drainage efficiency and even cause potential backups and overflows, requiring the intervention of a professional drainage contractor. 


How can I reduce the damage of hard water on my drains?

The easiest way to reduce the damage of hard water on your drainage system is to install a water softener. This device is fitted near your mains water supply and will remove the excess minerals to prevent a limescale buildup. Regularly cleaning your taps, showerheads and other fixtures with a descaling agent will also help to keep them clear of blockages.

It’s also advisable to schedule regular maintenance work, performed by a qualified drainage professional. They can inspect your drainage system, identify any potential issues and perform the necessary cleaning or repairs to keep your drains in optimal condition. If you’re already dealing with significant limescale buildup and experiencing restricted water flow, a skilled drainage specialist can also provide drain unblocking services to get your pipes flowing freely once more. 


Here at 1st Call Drain Clearance & Technical Services, we provide both domestic and commercial drainage services that help properties across Central London, Brentford and beyond to reduce the impact of hard water. Our knowledgeable team has over 25 years of experience and provides drain cleaning and clearance services, as well as general maintenance. For those times when you just can’t wait, we also offer 24/7 emergency drainage services, so we can support you any time of the day or night.


For additional information regarding our services, get in touch with our friendly team today — we’re always happy to discuss your drainage needs.

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Areas We Cover

We have engineers covering London, Central London and the Home Counties


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