Methods for Treating Hard Water

There are four types of hard water treatment options, depending on how they function. Each treatment method has its unique advantages and disadvantages. They can all reduce, inhibit or remove limescale. Below is a brief overview of how each of these four categories works, their benefits and drawbacks of water descalers, and how they are done.

1. Physical Water Conditioners

There are three types: electrolytic, magnetic and electronic.

1a. Electronic water conditioners also known as electrodescalers or limescale inhibitors, usually consist of a small box with electronics and one to three coils wrapped around the pipework.

What they do. Electronic conditioners transmit an audio frequency or radio frequency signal through water pipes using induction coils. This reduces limescale buildup inside the water pipes, and over time, also reduces existing scale. While a softer scale might still form on taps and shower heads, it is much easier to remove.

Benefits: These descalers can be very cost-effective and are cheaper than other hard water treatment methods. These descalers are easy to install as they do not require any plumbing. The water is safe because it does not contain any minerals.


1b) These are inline devices which need to be plumbed into your water system. To fit the pipework, they can be purchased with either 15mm, 22mm, and 28mm end connectors.

What do they do? Two dissimilar metals are found inside an electrolytic conditioner. Usually copper and zinc act both as a cathode or anode. The electrolytic current flowing from the cathode towards the anode causes small amounts to dissolve in the water. The positively charged scale is disrupted by the metalions. They form particles which don’t clump together, and thus create scale.

Benefits: Electrolytic scale inhibitors, like electronic descalers are quite affordable to purchase. They do not require an electric power supply, so their annual operating costs are negligible. They offer whole-house protection from limescale problems, and the water they treat is safe to drink.

Drawbacks: Electrolytic conditioners need to periodically be replaced in order to maintain the highest level of protection.