DIY Network

Preventing Mineral Buildup

This DIY Basic will provide tips on preventing mineral buildup.

More in Plumbing

Step 1: Watch an Overview Video

Step 2: Gather Your Materials and Tools

Materials and Tools:

white vinegar
lemon juice
liquid cleanser
plastic bags
rubber bands
soft cloth
rubber gloves
safety goggles
sequestering cleaning agent
stiff brush
water softener unit
high quality, high purity softening salt
copper pipe
soldering agent

Step 3: Test for Hard Water

Calcium and magnesium in water combine to create lime scale deposits inside plumbing and appliances; this can cause low water pressure and mechanical failure.

Signs of hard water may include soap scum and sticky residue in tubs and sinks, mineral spots on faucets and fixtures, as well as hard-to-lather soap and shampoo.

Hard water deposits can stick to glass, porcelain, enamel, fiberglass, stainless steel, china, chrome and tile.

Use test kit to see whether you have hard water.

Step 4: Clean Faucets

Use a toothbrush and white vinegar, lemon juice or liquid cleaner to scrub encrusted faucet.

Fill a plastic bag with white vinegar and tie over the spigot; leave overnight.

Rinse with warm water and polish with a soft cloth.

Step 5: Clean Showerheads and Shower Doors

Remove showerhead and place in plastic bag filled with white vinegar or solution of 1/2 cup bleach to 2 cups water or 1/2 cup ammonia to 2 cups water. Wear gloves and goggles when handling bleach or ammonia.

Tip: DO NOT clean showerhead in place. The cleaning solution could drip into eyes or onto skin. Also, NEVER mix cleaning solutions like vinegar, bleach and ammonia; this can create dangerous, toxic fumes.

Showerhead should stay in vinegar 30 minutes; in bleach or ammonia solution 20 minutes.

Rinse showerhead thoroughly and reinstall.

Run water through showerhead for two minutes to remove cleaning solution.

To clean lime deposits from toilets, sinks, tubs and shower doors, use a sequestering cleaning agent designed for lime removal.

Step 6: Install a Water-Softening Machine

If water is hard, consider installing a water-softening machine, which attaches to the plumbing.

Machine consists of brine (saltwater) tank and resin tank; when water passes through resin, minerals attach to resin beads through ion exchange process; saltwater washes minerals out of resin to be discharged as waste water.

Salt should be added to the water-softener machine about twice monthly.

For consistently soft water, keep salt level at least half-full at all times; DO NOT overfill.

Bypass the water softener with cold water line to separate faucet in kitchen for un-softened drinking water.