Hard and Soft Water Explained

Many people hear the term hard and soft water and simply don’t understand what it means or what the difference is between them. As a professional plumber, we have compiled together a handy list of answers to some of the most commonly asked questions.

What’s The Difference Between Hard And Soft Water?

Hard water contains high amounts of dissolved minerals such as calcium and magnesium. This is absorbed when the water comes into contact with rock such as chalk or limestone. Water takes a long journey to get to our homes, so it often picks up minerals along the way. Soft water on the other hand, contains fewer minerals, which the water remaining more in its natural state.

What Does This Mean For Everyday Water Usage?

When hard water is heated, limescale and deposits can build up in your pipes and appliances. This means things like your shower may need to be cleaned more often. Regularly build in pipes can rescue the water flow. Hard water also make soaps and conditioners, less effective when they’re used.

Home appliances such as washing machines and dishwashers, usually need to work harder when there used in areas that suffer from hard water. If not maintained correctly, your appliance might end up with shorter lifespans. Improving things like the salt in dishwashers can help negate the effect of hardwater.

Soft water is generally preferable when it comes to cleaning as it can help things like glassware end up cleaner, and reduces the amount of build up and scum in appliances and showers. People in areas that have soft water, generally use less detergent and less energy, when using cleaning appliances. Soft water can also be quite resistant to chlorine, which isn’t great new if you’re lucky enough to own a swimming pool.

What Is Healthier?

Both hard water and soft water are perfectly safe to use, although hard water often tastes better, it can be less effective when used in appliances. Soft water is great for washing hair and a range of other uses, but be resistance to chemicals that are added to the water.

Limescale can easily build up in kettles and create a brown scum on your tea or coffee, this isn’t harmful, but it just doesn’t like too pleasant. Regularly cleaning your appliances and using anti limescale tablets can help breakdown limescale and keep your appliances working for longer.

Can You Make Hard Water Soft?

There are some ways that you can make hard water soft, one of these ways is by adding salt to the hard water. A professional plumber we believe in helping our customers who suffer from hard water improve the quality of their water and the performance of their appliances. An alternative is to use a conditioner or scale inhibitor. Rather than removing the minerals and replacing them with something else, this alters the water so that minerals pass through the system. This prevents the build-up of limescale and your water is still safe to drink.

Expert advice

5 Signs your Boiler Isn’t Working Properly

Sluggish boilers are inefficient, boilers that are maintained and regularly serviced can improve the efficiency of how your hot water and heating run. Although it’s hard to understand if your boiler is running correctly or how it should be there are a few key points, which should ensure your boiler and central heating system run better.

By choosing boiler a boiler expert who specialises in boiler repairs can help to ensure that your boiler is working how it should be. If you identify the signs that your boiler isn’t working correctly, then it’s time to call out a heating engineer. We’ve compiled together a few questions to ask yourself, to see if your boiler is running to optimal efficiency.

Questions To Ask Yourself

1. Is your boiler using more gas than it should be?

If you find yourself with constantly high energy bills that don’t seem to reflect your true usage, then it could be the signs of something being wrong with your boiler. Even though peoples energy bills fluctuate all year around, if you suddenly notice a sharp rise in the amount of gas your using in your property, then it could be a sign that something simply isn’t right.

2. Can you hear strange clunking sounds?

If your boiler, pipes or radiators are starting to make strange clunking sounds or noises they don’t usually make, then it could be time to get it checked. Most strange noises that occur usually tend to need a power flushing, to clean out the systems and pipework to get it running back how it should be. Although it could be a different issue which may require a boiler repair being carried out.

3. Are you getting hot water and heating?

Although it might seem like a strange question, most boilers that aren’t correctly maintained simply don’t produce the right amount of heat from radiators or hot water pressure, that they’re capable of. Keeping using both your hot water and heating throughout the year, can help to ensure the temperatures you receive are the same all year around, if you notice a temperature change, then it could be a sign of something being wrong with your boiler.

4. Do you have cold spots in your property?

Cold spots are an indicator of a poorly functioning boiler or a blocked central heating system. If you have cold spots occurring on your central heating system and radiators, then it’s important to get a heating engineer out to check them. Although most cold spot problems are simple to repair, it’s better to get it checked to make sure it’s not something more serious.

5. Is your pressure kept regulated?

If the pressure in your boiler keeps dropping or always goes to high, then this can cause your hot water and heating pressures to fluctuate. It’s recommended to keep your pressure levels somewhere over and one and below a three, to operate within best parameters. If your boiler suffers irregular temperature pressures then it’s important to get it checked by a trained and gas safe registered engineer, to ensure the boiler is kept running smoothly.

How can we help?

If you have gone through the above checklist and you think that you have a problem, then perhaps its time to call the experts.

Our priority is getting your boiler back up and running as quickly and safely as possible. We’re based in Bromley and are easily reachable on 020 8212 7824 where one of our staff will be happy to take your call.

As well as repairing boilers locally, we also offer our assistance in CroydonMitchamOrpingtonCaterhamSevenoaksBeckenham and the surrounding areas.

Keep Your Boiler Running Over Winter

We aren’t expecting to get a white Christmas but we could end up with some in January? We can’t be sure, but the last thing you want is to be without central heating and a boiler when this happens. In the past many homeowners across the UK have been caught out when the cold snap appears, and are literally left in the cold.

Christmas is expensive enough without needing to call out a gas safe registered engineer to carry out a boiler repair. Maintaining your boiler correctly over the winter can help to reduce the need for boiler repairs and central heating repairs.

Top Tips for Boiler Maintenance

Keep Your Pipes From Freezing

In freezing temperatures even the best-maintained boiler will struggle to function if its pipes condensate and then freeze. To prevent pipes from freezing it’s important to make sure you insulate the pipe by wrapping it in some old towels or rags immediately to prevent it from freezing. This usually comes in a variety of sizes so bear in mind to measure it before you buy it. When measured and cut, wrap the condensation pipe in the insulation and this should help prevent the pipe from freezing.

Keep You Boiler Running

As a temporary measure it may also help to keep your central heating on a constant setting, having it go offer regularly throughout the day. We certainly recommend this as an ongoing solution, as it goes against the idea of having an energy efficient boiler, but as a temporary fix, it’s worth doing.

Undertake Boiler Servicing

If at any time you need your boiler to be working to optimal efficiency, it’s during the winter months. In most cases boiler breakdown problems occur because of common faults and usually because it hasn’t been serviced for some time. Like a car, your boiler needs to be serviced on a regular basis. Getting your boiler serviced before it gets too cold would be advisable before problems start occurring.

Power Flushing

If you’ve got an older central heating system over time this can become inefficient because of blocked pipes, preventing radiators from heating up correctly. A black sludge can build up in your central heating system and can cause your radiators to get cold spots. Getting rid of these cold spots is fairly easy with an effective technique called Power Flushing. Water and cleaning chemicals are pumped through your radiators at high pressure which flushes out any build-up of dirt, often a back sludge that is causing a blockage. By Power Flushing all your radiators, you will be making your central heating system more efficient which will save you money on your heating bills and potential money spent on central heating repairs. Power flushing helps to improve the overall efficiency of boilers and heating systems, helping to improve the lifespan of your boiler.

Running Smoothly Throughout Winter

By undertaking some simple boiler and central heating tips, or having a heating engineer, carry out services can help to maintain and keep your boiler running smoothly throughout the winter. A correctly maintained boiler will ensure your boiler runs smoothly all year around, not just through the winter.

Guide To Buying A New Boiler

Although buying a new boiler will never be as exciting as buying a new car or landing the latest video games console, but buying a new boiler is arguably one of the most significant and important purchases that you will ever make. There are many considerations to take into account before you go dipping your hand into your pocket to buy a new boiler; ranging from which one is best for your home, how much it will cost to install, if there are any grants or financial help available, as well as the location of the boiler and what kind of thermostatic controls you intend to use.

What Boiler Should You Buy

A new boiler is a big investment and you should be prepared to go for the best quality boiler available, albeit within your budget. Although they have a slightly higher initial outlay than other boilers, embracing this new technology and accepting the cost of it will pay dividends in the end, as you will re-coup your money over the lifespan of your new boiler through lower heating bills.

Questions To Ask Yourself?

  • Where will it be installed?
  • What do you need to use it for?
  • is it a residential or commercial premises?
  • How much have you got to spend?
  • Is the engineer Gas Safe Registered?
  • Is it covered by warranty?
  • What brand of boiler should I choose?

Call in The Professionals

Rather than just jumping in and buying a new boiler, it’s important to work with a professional heating company to ensure you get the best boiler to meet your requirements and budget. A heating engineer can ensure that your boiler is installed correctly and that it’s safe to use.

Professional heating engineers are fully qualified to carry out boiler installations, ensuring they are correctly installed and safe to use once they have been fitted in your property. Using accredited and recommended installers will help to ensure that a quality boiler has been installed to professional standards.


As important as the installation itself (if not more so) it is essential that you are aware of the after sales service and support that the installer is offering and even if they offer it at all. It is all well and good being the best at specifying and installing new systems but you must make sure that you are using someone that is capable of repairing them should the need arise.

Rather surprisingly, not all installation specialists have the requisite knowledge to find faults or diagnose problems with all types of condensing boilers, so make sure to check the skills and credentials of the firm you intend on using; keeping in mind that it is probably best to use a firm that is qualified by the manufacturer to install the particular make of boiler that you intend on having installed. Most new boiler installations come with warranties that cover your boiler for parts and labor, so if any problems should happen to occur you’ll be covered.


Campaign Highlights the Damage Caused by Hard Water

The Campaign

In Kent (the area with some of the hardest tap water in the UK), a national campaign has been launched by Harvey Water Softeners to help raise awareness and highlight the damage hard water can cause.

The campaign will run across the area of Kent during the months of October and November, called the Stop Scale and Scum campaign and then it will embark on a yearlong tour of England to the areas who suffer with some of the worst hard water conditions. The purpose of the campaign is to draw attention to the damage hard water can cause. Harvey Water Softeners is highlighting to homeowners the massive impact their water could be having on their finances. With Kent having some of the largest hotspots of hard water in the UK due to the large geological formations largely made up of chalk.

Principal hydrogeochemist for the British Geological Survey, Pauline Smedley said, “Many of the water companies in the South East of England extract groundwater from chalk bedrock for their water supply, it’s our most significant aquifer in terms of the volumes extracted. Chalk groundwater is typically hard because chalk is composed almost entirely of calcium carbonate, which dissolves readily with the aid of carbon dioxide in the water. The dissolved calcium produced is responsible for the formation of hard water.”

Damage and Problems Caused by Hard Water

The high levels of calcium and magnesium that are in the hard water is a major cause of limescale build up inside home appliances such as boilers, kettles and washing machines. Water softening units can be plumbed into domestic or commercial properties in orders to remove the minerals from the main water supply helping to reduce the build-up of limescale. Drinking water taps that are fitted alongside still allow people to enjoy the taste of the hard water but protect the appliances in their home. Listed below is some of the damage and problems caused by hard water.

  • Build-up of limescale in appliances
  • Shorter appliance lifespans
  • Poor flowing pipes
  • Reduced efficiency of heating systems
  • Boiler overheating due to higher pressures
  • Personal care such as washing hair is more difficult
  • Blocked pipes
  • Up to a 75% loss of flow on showers

A Growing Problem

Demand for softened water is the Kent area has almost doubled in the last 12 months, according to Harvey Water Softeners. This is seen as a sign that the problem is getting worse as more housing developments are built across Kent.

Harvey Bowden, founder of Harvey Water Softeners aid, “I’ve worked in the area for 40 years but I’m always surprised to see just how quickly hard water can have an impact; in extreme cases, I’ve seen people go through brand new kettles in just 4 months or taps seize up all together. Soft water isn’t just good for people’s pockets, but it can also keep homes warmer as heating systems work better.

”Our message to the people of Kent and people in hard water areas is check your water hardness. Use our water hardness postcode checker and look inside your kettle or other appliances for any signs of limescale.”


Gas and Heating Engineers Are Britain’s Most Trusted Tradespeople

A recent study by HomeServe found that gas and heating engineers are the nation’s most trustworthy tradespeople, with more than one if five UK homeowners choosing them as their tradespeople of choice. The poll concluded with gas and heating engineers coming out in first place, this was followed by electricians, plumbers, painters and decorators, landscape gardeners and joiners.

A Trustworthy Engineer

The most important attribute was the trustworthiness of gas engineers; homeowners believe them to one of the most trustworthy tradespeople in the UK due to the nature of the work they carry out. Engineers also ranked highly for honesty, reliability, quality of work and the qualifications they hold.

Greg Reed, chief marketing officer at HomeServe said “Before we let tradespeople have access to our homes, often for several hours, we obviously need to be completely confident we can trust them to do the job with competence and honesty. Hundreds of our engineers are working in homes across the UK every day, so we know how important this is to our own customers when they turn to us for help.”

Choosing the Right Engineer

When it comes to choosing a heating or gas engineer it can be quite confusing with many out there it can seem quite daunting. With many looking and choosing because of how a business might look, it’s time to think again; if you choose a business because it has a nice logo or branding or look good then it’s time to rethink your choice of engineer.

Looks may be one thing and usually most people who have a nice-looking website are quality engineers but it’s always important to double check. Even been rated the most trustworthy in the UK, it’s always important to consider all options; make sure you check out reviews for independent sites or check word of mouth. With several major reviews sites, out there, there’s no reason not to, it may seem like a hassle to check someone out (especially when you’re in a rush) but make sure you do. Would you trust a roller-coaster operator who rushed through a safety check.

Being Recognised

An important aspect to consider when choosing a heating and gas engineer is to consider any accreditation’s they may have. These could be with trusted companies such as Vaillant, Worcester Bosch, Trusted Trader and most importantly make sure they’re Gas Safe Registered.

Jonathan Samuel, chief executive at Gas Safe Register, added: “Having any kind of work done can be stressful, and knowing that the person who is undertaking work is a suitably qualified professional like a Gas Safe registered engineer is a great help.”

The study found that over 85% of homeowners deemed qualifications and accreditation’s, to be an important consideration when choosing a gas and heating engineer. Trust is earned by choosing a company who has reputable accreditation’s will mean you’re choosing a company that adheres to strict guidelines set out by these recognised companies.


Baxi Highlights the Danger of CO Poisoning

A recently carried out survey has released figures which have shown that there has been a 10% rise in suspected carbon monoxide (CO) poisonings in the UK. Baxi one of the leading UK boiler manufacturers is championing the importance of gas safety for homes and businesses.

Gas Safety Week

Every year Baxi and the Gas Safe Register work together for gas safety week. They hold this annual event to help raise the awareness of poorly maintained gas appliances in homes and businesses. This is so they can outline the seriousness of the associated consequences relations to carbon monoxide and poorly maintained gas appliances. This year was more important than ever due to the 10% rise in suspected CO poisonings over the last 2 years in the UK.

Jon Phillips, head of management for Baxi put out a statement which said, “Every day, four people will go to hospital with CO poisoning, which is a deeply worrying statistic. Gas Safety Week is an opportunity to consider how we can reduce gas related incidents through taking every available precaution when it comes to installing and maintaining gas appliances. For gas installers, CO is an all too familiar risk. As industry experts, out on the front line they are ideally placed to help hammer the message home and raise awareness of safety standards across the board. Gas safety is about educating both the industry and the public, and the awareness raised by Gas Safety Week is vital to that”.

Dangers of CO on People

Everybody has a different tolerance level to carbon monoxide this can be altered by many different factors such as ventilation in the room, activity level or any preexisting medical conditions; this can also differ depending on whether exposure is continuous or at varying intervals.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning

  • Tension type headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Impaired mental state
  • Tiredness and confusion
  • Chest pain
  • Stomach pain
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Ataxia
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizures

Although the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can be similar to other illnesses like flu, one important factor to remember is with CO poisoning you won’t suffer a high temperature.

Protect Yourself

One of the main and simplest ways a gas safe registered engineer can help to protect customers against carbon monoxide is via a CO alarm. It is recommended that for anyone with wood burning fires or people who have traditional gas boilers to have CO alarms installed on each floor. It is recommended for people who have combi boilers installed in their home or business to have a CO alarm fitted in the same room as their boiler.

By having a CO alarm fitted it can act as an early warning system, this will warn you when carbon monoxide is leaking or when the alarm itself needs changing; acting in a similar way to how a traditional fire alarm would but for CO instead. It is also advisable to have an alarm fitted in rooms where you have other gas alarms fitted. Alarms should be regularly serviced by gas safe registered engineers to make sure the alarms are safe and still suitable to use.


Creating Bathrooms That Are Arthritis-Friendly

When it comes to bathrooms, it’s important to take into consideration the different aspects of them when designing and installing bathrooms for people who suffer from arthritis. For people who suffer from arthritis bathrooms need to be safe and comfortable for them to use.

The UK is already home to around 10 million who suffer from some sort of arthritis, with the population continuing to age and exercise levels declining year on year, the problem is set to keep growing. Lack of exercise and age are the two main aspects associated with the disease.

What Does It Mean for Installers

Experts are warning of what they’re calling an imminent arthritis epidemic and due to the increase of the disease in people, the demand for adaptations in the home is also massively increasing, especially in the bathroom. The need for adaptations is expected to continue growing especially with the promotion of independent living in people of all ages and disabilities.

In June this year, it was revealed by the results of the accessible housing survey that more than one million people in the UK are planning to have disabled adaptations made to their bathroom. With most people stating that they planned to have them installed either immediately or within a few years.

By choosing an appropriate and qualified bathroom installer they can work with you to assess the space you have available and help create spaces that are appropriate and meet the diverse needs of people who suffer from arthritis. An experienced bathroom installer who specialises in disabled adaptations can help evaluate each aspect of the traditional bathroom to make it suitable for people who suffer from the condition.

What Makes a Bathroom Arthritis-Friendly

Mobility Aids

These are devices that aid in the mobility of people when using the bathroom, these can include things such as grab rails and bars, which are both critical design elements in bathroom design for people that suffer from the condition. These aids should be installed around toilets, baths, basins and in and around shower areas to make them more accessible. These mobility aids need to be strong enough to support heavy loads, and are usually designed to hold up to 100kg. Good quality bathroom aids are typically designed out of UPVC, as they provide strength, are hygienic and easy to clean.

Washing Zones

These can vary in options, with walk in baths being the most obvious option but these usually depend on budget due to a higher cost. A more cost effective alternative is level access wet rooms; these remove any potential trip hazards and make the most the space that’s available in the bathroom. When selecting a shower model, it’s important to consider peoples limited dexterity as they will need options that have easy buttons to control temperature and flow.


The most common and cost effective disabled adaption for toilets is raised toilet seats, these make it easier for people who use it to get on and off with ease. Specially adapted toilet chairs can also be used to allow easier access to toilet facilities. Not only is the toilet an important thing to think about but the flushing mechanism is too, levers are usually the best option for people who suffer from arthritis as a firm grip isn’t needed to flush it.


When it comes to washbasins the main disability aid to consider is the taps. People who suffer from arthritis will have limited dexterity and will find it difficult to turn the tap on and off, the best option to provide ease of use would be level taps.

Individual Needs

The most important thing is to design a bathroom that is welcoming and safe for everyone to use, by having a bathroom that includes the right adaptations allows for people who suffer from arthritis to enjoy the benefits of independent living. When it comes to designing and installation a one size fits all isn’t the answer, everyone who suffers from arthritis will have different ranges of mobility. Using a disabled bathroom adaptations specialist will help you assess the bathroom space you have available and what adaptations you need to suit your needs.