Solutions for Hard Water
It’s a fact. Most water in the United States is considered “hard.” Hard water can present challenges with some water ionizers but it is not an unsurmountable issue.
Water ionizer companies are aware of the hard water factor and have developed products and protocols to ensure that their units will perform well in almost any source water area. Here we’ll discuss some of the options available for maintaining the performance of your water ionizer in hard water areas.
The Main Issue
Scale buildup is the primary reason for performance issues with water ionizers in hard water areas. The excess minerals in hard source water, like calcium and magnesium, build up on the plates and in some cases can build up in the hoses blocking water flow.
When plates are coated with minerals, they no longer have direct contact with the water to deliver an effective charge. The layer of mineral scale on the plates creates a barrier between the water and the plate surface.
Short term, scale buildup can lower the effective performance of a water ionizer. If the issue is not properly addressed, over time it can cause premature aging of the plates.
Primary Protective Measure
Any decent water ionizer will have a cleaning cycle that will run at regularly scheduled intervals. This may be based on an internal timer or a sensor. During the cleaning process the attract/repel action of the plates is reversed. The poles that usually “attract” will repel. Combined with water flowing through the unit this can help release scale buildup.
Most water ionizers now have a “manual clean” button – a bit of a misnomer – the only thing “manual” about it is that you manually push the “clean” button. There is no actual manual labor required. If you are in a hard water area and your water ionizer does not automatically run at least one cleaning cycle during the day, you should run a “manual” clean on the unit by pressing the “clean” button on the control panel.
If your water ionizer does not have a manual clean button available, run the unit at the strongest acidic setting for a few minutes. This will also reverse the polarity of the plates inside the unit and will help remove scale build-up.
Several products are available that help remove or reduce scale buildup in your water ionizer. Descaler filters are available that can be easily installed in the line that supplies water to your ionizer. The media inside the descaler filter interacts with the minerals in your source water inhibiting their ability to stick to the plates or hoses in your water ionizer.
Magnet products are another popular choice although there is debate about their effectiveness. These magnet products are placed on the line that supplies water to your ionizer. As the water passes by, the power of the magnet reverses the polarity of the minerals in the water, inhibiting their ability to stick to the plates and hoses inside your water ionizer.
These aren’t ordinary magnets you can find at your local hardware or toy store. These are very strong magnets. If you choose a magnet option for “plate protection” you should make sure you are getting a product designed specifically to address hard water.
The most important thing you can do to maintain the performance of your water ionizer in a hard water area is performing regular cleaning maintenance. Most water ionizers now have a cleaning cartridge available. These cleaning cartridges can be run as often as you like – at least once a year is recommended regardless of your source water. In hard water areas it’s worth your while to run a cleaning cartridge at least twice a year.
If you are in a hard water area, look for water ionizers that have cleaning cartridges available. And look into the procedure for using them. Some are simple “insert in place of filter and run” while others require you to put them in, start the unit, stop the unit, put the external hoses in a bowl or glass, wait up to several hours, flush – and then in some instances repeat the process.
Doing a little homework while shopping for a water ionizer will ensure that the maintenance required based on your source water is easy and convenient.
Finally, most water ionizer companies do offer some sort of cleaning service. This will set you back anywhere from $35 to $65 per cleaning plus the cost of shipping the unit to and from the repair facility. And you’ll be without your water ionizer for a week or more. Cleaning cartridges are the best way to go. Easy to use cleaning cartridges are make the whole maintenance process even easier.