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I have a problem with higher levels of scaling around sinks and toilets and I'm wondering if someone can help.

We recently purchased an older home (35 years old), which did not have a water softener in use, at least for some time (there was an old broken one on the premises). We had a good quality softener installed about 3 months ago, and I've tested the softened water, which rates at:

  • 18 gpg hardness on municipal water source coming into the house (very hard)
  • 0 gpg hardness after softener (it's soft)
  • 0.3 ppm iron (a little high but not too bad)

Scaling in the sinks, toilets, etc. was excessive before installing the softener, and it has improved now, but I'm finding we continue to have to use vinegar about every 1-2 weeks to clean scale off of sink basins, toilet bowls (and these are toilets used daily), as well as counter tops, etc.

Is this to be expected? I'm curious as to why if water hardness is at 0 (or sometimes 1) gpg there is so much scale. My only thought it it's build-up on the plumbing between the softener and the taps, etc. that is going to take time to disappear and is perhaps being loosened by the softener.

It doesn't seem to have anything to do with the hot water tanks as the build-up is just as noticeable in the toilets (cold water) as the sinks (mix of cold source and hot tank).

I have considered flushing the hot water tanks but I don't believe it's the cause based on the above.

Any input would be really appreciated.

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Where did you sample the soft water for testing? Is it possible that some fixtures are getting unsoftened water? –  Philip Ngai May 29 '13 at 15:32
    
Could it be staining from iron? I doubt a home as new as your's would have iron pipes, but iron pipes could also add to the iron content after the softener. –  Pigrew May 30 '13 at 3:15
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As a guess, the pipes got layered internally in scale, that will come out over some time (dissolving into the now softer water). I know boilers get descaling treatment, but I've not heard of the same with standard pipes. If they were quickly descaled, there might be a large amount of debris. which would necessitate disassembly (washer inlet filters, refrigerator water connections, shower valves, toilet valves). Perhaps all the hose hookup devices could be disconnected for the treatment. –  HerrBag Jul 12 '13 at 11:57

1 Answer 1

As a guess, the pipes got layered internally in scale, that will come out over some time (dissolving into the now softer water). Some large chunks may require filter screens, shower heads and valves to be soaked in your vinegar or CLR (containing lactic and gluconic acids).

I know boilers get descaling treatment, but I've not heard of the same with standard pipes. If they were quickly descaled, there might be a large amount of debris, which would necessitate disassembly (washer inlet filters, refrigerator water connections, shower valves, toilet valves). Perhaps all the hose hookup devices could be disconnected for the treatment

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