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Why Does My Shower Door Have White Stains?

bathroom shower door and faucet with hard water scale

Most everyone loves a shower with doors. There’s no worrying about the shower curtain liner blowing around, and no annoying curtain rod or curtain loops that get stuck on the rod. If a shower door gets grimy, you can wipe it down instead of scrubbing a shower curtain liner or putting it through the washing machine just to throw it away and replace it with a new one. Shower doors look nicer and make a bathroom feel more complete until it gathers chalky hard water stains. These stains are called scale buildup or limescale, and they don’t just wipe off nicely with a rag. Limescale is annoying, ugly, and hard to remove if you don’t know how, and if you don’t change anything about the hardness of your water, it will keep coming back.

What is Limescale?

Limescale is a layer of minerals left behind by your water. Even if your water looks clear and tastes okay, it likely carries minerals picked up from underneath the ground that make it hard. Hard water carries ten or more grains per gallon of calcium and magnesium minerals. Slowly, calcium from hard water builds up on surfaces like shower doors, tubs, pipes, and other surfaces, creating a crusty limescale layer.

What Does Limescale Look Like?

In much of the United States, limescale will appear white or grayish. Pure calcium may be silvery or dark gray, but the calcium in hard water isn’t pure calcium. It will often bond with carbon and other elements while forming the bedrock of the Earth, causing the deposits to look whiter and chalkier. Water in some parts of the world causes scale buildup that looks reddish or brown because the calcium is bonded with different forms of iron. Other colorations come from different combinations of extra minerals in the water.

This hardness scale can look like a cloudy haze on your shower doors or dishes, but the longer it builds up, the bulkier it can become. So, the openings of your shower head can form clumps big enough to block the flow, or your sink faucets can grow a thick ring of mineral deposits around the opening.

How Do I Remove Limescale?

If all you have is a rag and the same hard water that caused the limescale in the first place, you won’t be able to get rid of limescale on your shower door or other parts of your shower or bath. There are complex chemical solutions you can buy from a store and home remedies you can find online, but it will take some time and work. This scale buildup is essentially tiny specs of rock that the water eroded from the Earth being left behind and reforming smaller rocks throughout your home. The only way to remove this rock again would be to dissolve it with chemicals. Many homeowners have grown accustomed to cleaning their bathrooms using vinegar since it is a strong acid that can quickly dissolve through buildup. Some thicker pieces of limescale might scratch off, but blades and scrapers should not be used to remove limescale as you may risk scratching or damaging the material beneath it.

After all that work, limescale will still form again, unless the water no longer carries the hard minerals.

How Do I Prevent Limescale?

Installing a water softener in your home can prevent the annoying limescale stain before it even appears. Water softeners catch the calcium and magnesium in your water and flush it down a drain before it gets into your shower, faucet, tub, or any other part of your house. As long as your water softener is the right size to handle the hardness of your water and the amount of water your home goes through in a day, you can say goodbye to limescale and other problems that arise from hard water.

Where Can I Get a Water Softener?

Walking to your corner hardware store could bring you closer to a water softener. Still, without understanding how hard your water is, or how many gallons per day your family typically uses, you may not purchase one capable of removing all the calcium traveling with your water. Instead, call your local WaterCare® dealer to help you learn more about what is in your water and what kind of water softener is right for your situation. Your local WaterCare® dealer is a water treatment professional with the plumbing experience and know-how not just to test your water for hardness, but also to select the perfect water treatment solution for your home and install it. Your local dealer may recommend a combination of water softening and filtering units, depending on the composition of your incoming water.

How Does a Water Softener Work?

Water softeners are water treatment systems that consist of two tanks. The media tank is the taller tank with the valve and controller on top. Inside this tank are hundreds of thousands of tiny resin beads that provide the true softening power of the unit. Your home’s water flows into this tank and passes by the resin media. The resin attracts the calcium and magnesium like a magnet in an " ion exchange process.” It’s called an exchange because the resin releases the sodium molecules it holds into your water in place of the limescale-causing calcium and magnesium. That’s where the other tank comes in.

The second tank is called a ‘brine tank,’ usually wider and shorter than the other. This unit holds a supply of salt that needs to be refilled periodically. When the resin beads in the media tank reach capacity and can no longer attract more hardness minerals, water is added to the brine tank, dissolving some of the salt inside. The dissolved salt and water form a brine solution to knock the hardness off the resin in the first tank and replace it with sodium, preparing it for another round of catching nasty calcium and magnesium minerals.

Do Water Softeners Require a Lot of Maintenance?

When you get your new water softener, you must ensure there is always plenty of salt in the brine tank. The amount of salt your softener will use depends on how hard your water is, and how much water you use. You may need to add salt more frequently than your neighbors or friends who own a water softener. The goal is to keep the brine tank about two-thirds of the way full with salt. If you forget to keep your brine tank supplied with salt, you will eventually notice limescale building up again. Your local WaterCare® dealer may offer salt delivery which can help remind you to keep the tank full while saving you a few trips to the store.

What Water Softeners Does WaterCare® Make?

WaterCare® builds a range of water softeners, allowing dealers to pick the best one for your water softening or water conditioning needs.

  • Our CareSoft® series includes a variety of models to choose from to fit every situation and budget.
  • CareSoft® RC products can soften hard water while offering a carbon filter inside to tackle any foul tastes or odors your water may have caused by chlorine.
  • The TotalCare® line offers multiple solutions in one system. They can soften water and filter out rust-causing iron problems. If your water also has low pH levels, we also can recommend a TotalCare® unit that handles all three treatment capabilities.
  • Ask about our Twin model water softeners and Twin model water conditioners for your busy household! It can supply the high-quality treated water you expect at all hours of the day and night.

A free water test in your home will help your WaterCare® dealer determine which water treatment system is best for your and your family’s needs. Say goodbye to scrubbing those limescale stains once and for all! Soft water also helps your skin keep its moisture, makes laundry feel softer, and prevents damage to your water-using appliances. Better water can be in your future. Schedule a complimentary consultation with your local WaterCare® dealer today!