We take numerous things for granted in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives. More often than not, we don’t give much thought to our boilers, cooling towers, power plants and the more mundane items like espresso machines.

What we don’t realize is that these hardworking equipment or home products have to be descaled from time to time to keep them at optimal working capacities.

Understanding scale and descaling

A scale is the build-up of mineral deposits from water and the internal make-up of certain equipment. The reaction between the two can create limescale, calcium, rust, mud and water scale buildup. The development of scales can cause problems like inefficient heating, clogging of other areas in the machine and temperature variations.

Descaling is the procedure of eliminating scale from equipment like boilers and pipes.  The process is typically done via power flushing or using a descaling agent or chemical descaler.

Five important reasons for descaling

  1. To keep systems more efficient and prevent the breakdown of operations.

Descaling is crucial to keeping operations going. For instance, power plants require the use of many boilers, condensers, cooling towers and heat exchangers – parts where scale is likely to build. Scale buildup will clog pipes, which in turn will force pumps to work harder to push water past the developing scales. If not descaled, the buildup might result in equipment failure, which in turn might cause the entire plant to be shut down for repairs.

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  1. Periodic descaling helps prevent Legionnaire’s disease bacteria.

Chiller tubes and cooling tower systems have to undergo regular descaling. Cooler tubes often become caked with algae, mud, scale and sludge. These also develop in the water that accumulates in a cooling tower’s basin floor. Unfortunately, Legionella bacteria thrive in this environment. Descaling would remove the scale, sediments, and slime present and minimize the development of the bacteria. Disinfecting the area would also ensure that the bacterial growth is stopped.

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  1. To maintain the safety of homes and businesses.

Hard water scales in boilers, cooling towers and pipework, lowers the efficiency of these parts. In some cases, they might become too dangerous to operate. The scale that develops from calcium and magnesium becomes an insulator between the water and the boiler or pipe’s metal surface, resulting in an increase in the metal’s temperature. Once the scale reaches a certain thickness, the metal overheats and causes blisters in the material to develop. This might eventually lead to equipment to rupture.

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  1. Vital to ensuring that espresso tastes good and is safe to drink

Espresso is made up of 98% water, which is why good quality water is essential. Scale buildup also happens in espresso machines and affects the taste of the coffee. Fine sediments, calcium carbonate, and magnesium carbonate are usually present in water and causes the scale to develop on the boiler, the pipe and jet network of the espresso machine. While most sediments can be addressed through filtration or the regular changing of coffee filters, high levels of calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate need a special descaling chemical to be removed.

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  1. Lessens energy costs and saves time and money.

Regular descaling results in equipment working at optimal levels. This reduces energy costs that might happen if a boiler or condenser’s heating capacity is compromised, forcing it to work harder. Descaling also reduces the odds of the equipment breaking down, thereby saving time and money needed to fix it.