What Is The Water Hardness In My Area?

Hard water is caused by calcium and magnesium compounds; rain water is naturally soft as it has had no chance to pick up any minerals from the ground. When water passes through the ground through soft rocks like chalk or limestone, it picks up these minerals. If the water passes through rocks such as granite or through peaty soil calcium and magnesium are picked up and so the water remains soft.

Hard water can create 2 main issues within a building:

Issues Relating to Scale
Heat causes the calcium and magnesium to precipitate out of the water and stick to things causing “scale” to form on the inside of pipes, water boilers, tea kettles and so on. The scale doesn’t conduct heat well and reduces the flow through the pipes which can ultimately become completely blocked potentially leading to expensive repair bills.

Reducing the Effectiveness of Soap
Hard Water reacts with soap to form a scum and (in extreme cases) reduces soap’s ability to lather, this impacts on cleaning throughout the house including washing, bathing and general cleaning.

Hard and Soft Water Regions in the UK

The list below is a good indication of the general hard and soft water areas in the UK although it is an indicator only as all areas can contain pockets of completely different water types. To find out more you can contact your local water company (see list at base of article).

Regions with soft to moderately soft water in England

Conwyn

Cumbria

Devon

Flintshire

Gwynedd

Isle of Anglesey

Merseyside

North West Yorkshire

Pembrokeshire

West Yorkshire

Regions with soft to slightly hard water in England

Carmarthenshire

Ceredigion

Durham

Glamorganshire

Monmouthshire

Regions with slightly hard to moderately hard water in England

Cheshire

Denbighshire

Derbyshire

Herefordshire

Lancashire

Leicestershire

Northumberland

Powys

Shropshire

Worcestershire

Wrexham

Regions with slightly hard to very hard water in England

North Yorkshire

Somerset

South Yorkshire

Surrey

Warwickshire

Regions with hard to very hard water in England

Bedfordshire

Berkshire

Buchinghamshire

Cambridgeshire

Dorset

East Riding of Yorkshire

East Riding of Yorkshire

East Sussex

Essex

Gloucestershire

Greater London

Hampshire

Hampshire

Hertfordshire

Isle of White

Kent

Lincolnshire

Lincolnshire

Norfolk

North East Yorkshire

Nottinghamshire

Nottinghamshire

Oxfordshire

Rutland

Staffordshire

Suffolk

Scotland

Most regions in Scotland range from soft through to various levels of hardness with the majority not exceeding moderately soft water.

Ireland Regions

Ireland maybe broken down as follows:

Northern Division soft to moderately soft

Eastern Division soft to moderately hard

Southern Division soft to moderately hard

Western Division soft to moderately hard

Local UK Water Companies

Anglian Water Services Ltd

Phone: +44 (0)1480 323 000

http://www.anglianwater.co.uk

Dwr Cymru Cyfyngedig (Welsh Water)

Phone: +44(0)1443 452 300

http://www.dwrcymru.co.uk

Independent Water Networks Ltd

Phone: +44 (0)845 051 1650

Northumbrian Water Ltd

Phone: +44(0)8706 084820

http://www.nwl.co.uk

Severn Trent Water Ltd

Phone: +44(0)121 722 4000

http://www.stwater.co.uk

South West Water Ltd

Phone: +44(0)1392 446 688

http://www.southwestwater.co.uk

Southern Electric

Phone: +44 (0)118 958 0100

http://www.southern-electric.co.uk

Southern Water Services Ltd

Phone: +44(0)1903 264 444

http://www.southernwater.co.uk

Thames Water Utilities Ltd

Phone: 0845 9200 888

http://www.thameswater.co.uk

United Utilities Water Plc

Phone: +44(0)1925 237 000

http://www.unitedutilities.com

Wessex Water Services Ltd

Phone: +44(0)1225 526 000

http://www.wessexwater.co.uk

Yorkshire Water Services Ltd

Phone: +44(0)1274 691 111

http://www.yorkshirewater.com

Albion Water Ltd

Phone: +44(0)20 8977 3055

http://www.albionwater.co.uk

Bournemouth & West Hampshire Water Plc

Phone: +44(0)1202 591 111

http://www.bwhwater.co.uk

Bristol Water Plc

Phone: +44(0)117 966 5881

Home

Cambridge Water Company Plc

Phone: +44(0) 1223 403 000

http://www.cambridge-water.co.uk

Cholderton & District Water Company Ltd

Phone: +44(0)1980 629 203

http://www.choldertonwater.co.uk

Dee Valley Water Plc

Phone: +44(0)1978 846 946

http://www.deevalleygroup.com/DVW/DVW.htm

Essex & Suffolk Water (now part of Northumbrian Water Ltd)

Phone: +4 (0)1245 491 234

http://www.eswater.co.uk

Folkestone & Dover Water Services Ltd

Phone: +44(0)1303 298 800

http://www.fdws.co.uk

Hartlepool Water Plc (now part of Anglian Water Services Ltd)

Phone: +44(0)1429 858 050

http://www.hartlepoolwater.co.uk

Mid Kent Water Plc

Phone: +44(0)1634 240 313

http://www.midkentwater.co.uk

Portsmouth Water Plc

Phone: +44(0)23 9249 9888

http://www.portsmouthwater.co.uk

South East Water Ltd

Phone: +44(0)1444 448 200

http://www.southeastwater.co.uk

South Staffordshire Water Plc

Phone: +44(0)1922 638 282

http://www.south-staffs-water.co.uk

Sutton & East Surrey Water Plc

Phone: +44(0)1737 772 000

http://www.waterplc.com

Tendring Hundred Water Services Ltd

Phone: +44(0)1206 399 200

http://www.thws.co.uk

Three Valleys Water Plc

Phone: +44(0)1707 268 111

http://www.3valleys.co.uk

What can I do about hard water?

There are 2 options that are available to you depending on your needs; Products called water softeners will improve the efficiency and increase the life of hot water appliances throughout a building. If installing a water softener is too difficult or costly then you could consider protecting specific devices that are plumbed into the mains with a scale inhibiting filter. The types of devises that may be protected in this way include mains water coolers and all types of water boilers and heaters. These filters are installed inline between the mains pipes and the machine itself and contain scale inhibiting elements.

About Water Softeners

A Water Softener is a device that monitors and reduces the hardness of the water, it does this by removing the calcium and magnesium salts from a water supply and replacing them with a saline solution. All water softeners work in essentially the same way, the incoming water enters the softener and passes through ion exchange resin. The resin removes the magnesium and calcium ions that create lime scale by swapping them with a small amount of salt, this leaves the softened water to enter your water system. The machines often contain an automatic timer control which will periodically clean or regenerate the resin. This is done by passing salt water through the resin which swaps places with the stored magnesium and calcium ions and allows the trapped minerals to be flushed down the drain.

If you are considering this option then please be aware:

When installing your Water Softener the UK Water Bylaws require that one tap in the house is left unsoftened. This may be accomplished by installing a third dedicated tap at the kitchen sink. In effect the whole house has softened water and the dedicated tap provides hard water for drinking, cooking etc. It’s also recommended that any outside taps are fed with unsoftened water to avoid waste.

There is evidence of less heart disease in hard water areas than in soft water areas

Most water softeners work by replacing the hardness with sodium which can cause issues with babies and those with heart conditions

Some water supplies contain impurities that may affect your softener if left untreated. Iron, dirt, silt, organics and bio film may not be removed by the salt regeneration system and older resin beds may start to suffer from iron fouling.

Soft water can release lead from any lead pipes

Once the scale is removed it can open up old leaks that have been sealed by the historic scale build-up

Softeners require ongoing maintenance and need to be topped up with the correct type of salt

You purchase the system from a reputable supplier