How MLCP helps homes with hard water
Whether you are a professional fitter or just starting out, it is important you understand the long-term damage that hard water can cause to your pipes and how you can prevent the build-up of limescale. Hard water is quite common in urban regions of the UK, particularly in the south and east of the country. If you are concerned about the quality of water in your area and its impact on the health and efficiency of your clients’ pipes, it is important that you find if hard water is common where you live by talking to your local water supplier. If you live in a place which is prone to high levels of limescale, such as London, it might be worth investing in MLCP.
The smooth inside of the MLCP is a great tool to prevent the build-up of limescale and calcification within your plumbing. In comparison to copper or steel pipes
What is MLCP?
MLCP refers to multi-layer composite pipes. MCLP is often used as an alternative to copper pipes because the installation process is flexible, speedy, and eliminates the need for soldering on building sites. In addition, due to the rise in copper prices, MLCP is significantly cheaper and more reliable than copper pipes.
MLCP was first introduced in the UK in the 1990s; however, there has been a rise in popularity since the 2000s as it is seen as a perfect alternative to tradition products. The price of MLCP has remained relatively stable when compared with copper and steel piping. MLCP is also known for being easily bent and retaining its form and position — saving time on the installation process.
MLCP consists of both an outer and inner layer of plastic pipe sandwiching a core of aluminium. This offers many benefits, including rigidity retention, oxygen diffusion, lowers expansion within the pipe. The multiple layers of the MCLP also help resist corrosion caused by time, pressure, and temperature. The smooth interior of MLCP promotes a strong and consistent flow of water, minimises noise and reduces the need for regular maintenance.
In general, MCLP is a cleaner, cheaper, and more efficient alternative to traditional copper and steel pipes.
What is hard water?
Hard water has a very high mineral concentration and usually forms when water runs through water deposits containing a build-up of limestone, chalk, and gypsum. The minerals typically present in hard water include calcium, magnesium carbonates, bicarbonates and sulphates.
Water is considered ‘hard’ when its concentration of minerals is above 200 parts per million (ppm). Any concentration below this amount is classified as ‘soft water’, although professionals might use more intermediate classifications such as ‘slightly hard’ and ‘moderately soft’.
One of the easiest ways to check the hardness of your water is to examine the mineral build-up in places where your water is regularly stored or through which it passes. For example, you could look at the bottom of your kettle or the inside of your pipes. Years of hard water exposure on metal will often leave a layer of white-coloured calcification.
Is there hard water in the UK?
Hard water is known to be very common throughout the UK, particularly in England and Wales. Water hardness is likely to be more concentrated during dry months when a significant proportion of our drinking water derives from reservoirs of limestone and chalk aquifers. Most of the south and east of England (except for Devon and Cornwall) have significantly high rates of hard water. In comparison, the northwest and southwest of England have a much lower level of hard water.
Here are some average mineral concentration levels found in various parts of the UK over the last decade:
- London — 275 ppm
- Bristol — 228.5 ppm
- Cornwall — 40 ppm
- Manchester — 25 ppm
In general, water is mostly hard in urban areas of England. This is often because sources of ‘soft water’ are unavailable, particularly during dry months. The exceptions to this trend are Manchester and Birmingham, which both have access to freshwater sources and therefore have very little exposure to limestone or chalk.
If you are unsure whether your region in the UK is known to have hard water — a concentration of minerals over 200 ppm — it is important that you find out so you can prepare how to protect your and your clients pipes best. Many counties or cities have water statistics; however, if you have difficulty finding the right information, do not be afraid to call up your water supplier as they will always have the information you need about your water quality.
Can hard water damage my pipes?
Hard water is a direct cause of limescale and calcification in pipes and can severely damage them over time. Enough exposure to hard water can leave clumps of mineral deposits on the inside of your pipes, creating a thick coating on the inside. The average 4-person household produces up to 70kg of limescale in a year just by using water for everyday activities. Eventually, limescale can clog your pipes and potentially damage them permanently. Limescale is also known to increase utility bills by up to 15% because your boiler and pipes need to work harder to deliver your hot water.
If you live in an area with high hard water levels, the long-term damage caused by the limescale it produces can be very costly and highly energy inefficient.
How can MLCP help prevent the damage caused by hard water?
Traditional pipes, such as copper or steel, have a much rougher texture on the inside due to the type of material and its manufacturing process. When compared with MLCP, this rough surface area means that limescale develops at a faster and higher rate as hard water passes through. In comparison, the MLCP has a smooth plastic surface area, making it difficult for mineral deposits to stick at the same rate as traditional pipes.
Why should I use MLCP in hard water regions?
Limescale caused by hard water can become extremely costly and environmentally unfriendly. Limescale leads to higher fuel usage within homes, but the need to replace damaged copper pipes could be an expense that many people cannot afford. Using MLCP, which is also a cheaper and easier-to-install alternative, your pipes are significantly less likely to have limescale damage in regions with high levels of hard water. This means that you will pay considerably less on your energy bill in the long-term, and you will also be fitting your house with more a permanent and environmentally friendly plumbing system.