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Saturday, January 3, 2009

Hardness in a Steam Washing Machine

(My Original Blog Post:
Tony from England writes:

I am about to purchase a LG Steam Washing Machine which has
recently been exibited and tested on UK television. I am concerned that as
we live in a "hard water area" that the scale build up could become a
problem especially due to the heat required to produce the steam. What are
the best solutions to ensuring the treatment of the water is sufficient to
minimise the scaling of the internal heaters etc. Ranging from the cheapest
and most effective, either chemical or mechanical.

Hi Tony, thank you for the question.

It is my understanding that many appliances like this one have a minimum and maximum recommended hardness range for the water they use. Your first move should be to read the manual or speak to a company representative for this product. Find out the hardness ranges. The company may have incorporated some sort of internal cleaning mechanism for this issue, or other.

Once you have determined the exact range that the machine can tolerate, you want to find out how hard your water is. If you are on municipal water, you may call your municipality. They will have the hardness there for you. If you are on your own well water, then hardness is a simple and inexpensive test that any drinking water laboratory can do. Look in your phone book for a laboratory.

There are two common measurements for hardness.  The older, and most common measurement is grains per gallon, or GPG.  The newer measurement is mg/L as CaCO3.   When comparing your hardness results to the machine specifications, you can get mg/L CaCO3 from GPG by multiplying by 17.1, and dividing by the same number to get back to GPG.

LG may tell you that the best method for dealing with this is to clean the machine at intervals with CLR, vinegar, citric acid or some other effective de-scaling chemical. That would certainly be your most inexpensive option.

LG may also have a system for adding a chemical to sequester the hardness.  Again, LG would be the best place to go to ask about a sequestering agent, both for the method of adding it and the most appropriate chemical so that it does not damage the machine.

You could certainly plumb in an ion exchange water softener to the water lines that go to the machine.  You can get a smaller unit if you don't want to soften the whole house.  Kinetico has a good under the counter softener for sale, and you can read more about it here.  I believe they have representatives in the UK.

Lastly, reverse osmosis filtration removes everything, including hardness. However, to get the flows you need it is very expensive and requires a large amount of maintenance, much more than de scaling your machine.

I hope this has helped point you in the right direction.  Please do not hesitate to write in again if you need further clarifications or have another question.

0 keen observations: