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Why Are My Shower Head Nozzles Clogged?

Shower Head With Limescale Buildup

Taking a shower is one of the simplest pleasures in life. The feeling of warm water has an almost magical effect on people. If you enjoy a good shower's calming, revitalizing, and cleaning effects, you know how important a good shower head is. A cheap, standard shower head is okay, but a simple upgrade to a bigger one or one with multiple settings can make your daily cleanse a luxurious experience. Investing in a new shower head is an investment in your comfort, but even the finest shower head will clog up with limescale after a while if you have hard water. Instead of replacing it or trying to clean the chalky residue off the nozzles, why not fix the problem at its source?

What Causes Clogged Shower Head Nozzles?

In most parts of the United States, it doesn’t take long for a brand-new shower head to get clogged up with limescale. It isn’t noticeable for a long time, but it is hard to fix or prevent once it starts. Limescale comprises calcium deposits that slowly grow in your shower head nozzles. If there is too much calcium in your water, these deposits will continue to appear until a change occurs.

Why is there Calcium in my Water?

Calcium is a common element found in nature. Even if genuinely pure water is made of only hydrogen and oxygen, water tends to grab whatever it touches and take a little bit as it passes, also known as erosion. Calcium is found in limestone, which is everywhere in the United States. Since most homes get water from groundwater, most water contains calcium particles and other elements like magnesium. When you find enough calcium and magnesium in water, it is known as “hard water.”

If you live in a city, your municipality is responsible for filtering and treating your water to ensure it is safe before distributing it to your home. Hard water does not cause any known health effects, so most city water treatment plants do nothing to reduce the amount of calcium in your water. 

Why Does Calcium Clog Shower Heads?

If you have hard water, it’s coming from every faucet and showerhead in your home. It is easy to notice in showerheads because the nozzles are smaller, and a tiny bit of buildup makes a more significant difference. As calcium gathers, it might block a nozzle or make the water point in a different direction. The mineral sticks to the insides of pipes, nozzles of showerheads, faucet openings, shower doors, and other places because it gets left behind as the water that once settled on it evaporates. Calcium is heavy, so it lingers, making it an ideal surface for more calcium to stick to in the future. Even shower heads with rubberized nozzles aren’t immune to scale buildup from hard water.

There are some household tricks you can do to remove this hard water scale build-up, like soaking your shower head in a bowl full of vinegar until the minerals break free. Commercial cleaners are also available from most stores (like “CLR” for example) that are also made to break down hard water residue. Unfortunately, these cleaning techniques require harsh acids to dissolve the calcium buildup, which can also damage the finish of your shower heads over time.

How Do I Get Rid of Hard Water?

A water softener is the only way to get rid of hard water. The calcium and magnesium minerals that make water hard have an electric charge that makes them difficult to remove through a regular water filter. The process by which a water softener removes hardness minerals is called “ion exchange.”

Hundreds of thousands of tiny resin beads called “media” inside a water softener tank are loaded with sodium molecules from the salt in the system’s brine tank. As hard water passes through your water softener, the charged calcium and magnesium are drawn to the resin beads like a magnet, exchanging themselves with the sodium that was there. Once the unit has captured all its hardness, it regenerates to “recharge” the resin beads with sodium and sends the unwanted calcium down the drain. Water softeners can be recharged to continually pull hardness minerals out of the water that flows through it, provided they are constantly supplied with salt in the brine tank. Soft water flows out of the water softener and into your home's plumbing, protecting all of your fixtures and appliances from scale build-up.

Why Do Water Softeners Need Salt?

Water softeners require salt the same way your phone needs a charger. Like how your phone runs out of power over time, your water softener will gradually run out of space to hold more calcium and magnesium. These molecules are stored in little dimples on the surface of the resin media, so there is only so much they can hold. Sodium is critical to freeing up more space to collect calcium on these beads, and it comes from the salt (made up of sodium chloride) added to your brine tank. When the media is full, the water softener flushes the tank with salty water, which removes the calcium and magnesium to be flushed down the drain, making it ready for more calcium and magnesium. This process is called “regeneration,” like charging your phone, it is usually done at night when you’re asleep. Maintenance is simple; ensure the brine tank is always supplied with solar salt crystals, and a water softener should continue working for years.

How Do I Get a Water Softener in My Home?

Do-it-yourself-ers may want to install a water softener independently, but this job is best left to the professionals. Contact your local WaterCare dealer first, and learn about the benefits of a water softener with no commitment. When you call, you can schedule a free water test conducted by your local WaterCare authorized water treatment expert. This test will determine how hard your water is and how much your family needs daily so your WaterCare water treatment expert can identify the best water softener for you and your water’s needs.

Not only that, but you can also get a free estimate on a water softener installation with your water test. It all begins by giving your local WaterCare authorized dealer a call or email. Contact them today to learn more about water softening to have soft water in your home. Clogged showerhead nozzles will soon be a thing of the past!