A guide to preventing limescale build-up on board yachts
Last updated: 25/04/2017
If you’re a yacht engineer and you’re fed up of facing questions from your fellow crew about why the water tastes funny, or why the water is leaving marks after cleaning, or even if you’ve had to explain to your captain why a piece of equipment has faltered, it may be time to think about installing a marine water softening system.
Limescale is formed when hard water (water which has a high mineral content) leaves behind deposits, which builds up on a surface. Once this scale becomes attached to something it's very difficult to remove it.
Why is limescale problematic for yachts?
Limescale can cause problems for all sorts of marine appliances that has liquid passing through it. Furthermore the scale and bacteria can also stick to basins, bath tubs and tiles in bathrooms and to pots, pans, glasses and dishware in the galley, making a stewardess’s and chef’s job more difficult. Once the scale deposits itself on a surface, getting it off can be a challenge.
Any system which hard water passes is also liable to be damaged and eventually will have to be replaced far sooner, because of the mineral deposits left behind. The appliances that sustain the most damage tend to be saltwater cooling systems, diesel fuel piping systems; reverse osmosis and freshwater systems.
Preventing limescale build up in pipes
There are a few ways to remove limescale and mineral accumulation in marine pipes. These can be in the form of electrical or filtered marine water softening systems or through the use of chemicals.
How to chemically remove limescale on a yacht
One way to remove unwanted limescale build up is to purchase a chemical product that has a high acid count and is engineered to cut through calcium, limescale, and other minerals to deep clean your pipes.
This product can be quite pricey, and downtime and labour need to be factored in. Furthermore, it is important to understand that this is only a temporary solution and limescale build up will come back repeatedly over time if not properly addressed.
Marine water softeners used on yachts
The most commonly used method to combat limescale on marine vessels is to use a filter system and in particular a reverse osmosis unit.
Reverse osmosis filters work by forcing water through a semi-permeable membrane, which filters out impurities. The membrane has microscopic holes through which water molecules can pass, but larger particles (calcium and magnesium minerals) are blocked.
This is great for prolonging the lifespan of marine appliances, washing down the boat and for any other use you can think of for water, but it also has its drawbacks.
Reverse osmosis units typical filter a small percentage of the water that enters the system, resulting in a lot of wastewater. Additionally, filter cartridges and the reverse osmosis membrane require periodic cleaning / replacement, all additional downtime, labour and cost.
Electrical water softening systems for superyachts
Recently a new system has been introduced to the yacht industry from HydroFLOW U.S.A., which may revolutionise yachts by using Hydropath Technology.
When Yachting Pages Media Group, asked Tal Jouro, CEO for HydroFLOW U.S.A. what’s so good about this new technology compared to traditional water conditioners, his response was, “The difference between Hydropath Technology and other physical water conditioning technologies is their induced signal and its ability to continuously condition the liquid solution throughout an entire system. HydroFLOW U.S.A. water conditioners induce an electric signal into any pipe containing liquid on which they are installed (metal or PVC).
“Testing shows that compared to other technologies, Hydropath Technology is many times more efficient and effective.
“Hydropath Technology not only tackles the harmful effects of limescale, bacteria, algae and bio-fouling that builds-up in yacht equipment, it reverses it.”
Using a permanent limescale remover
Of course the best way to fix any problem is by permanently removing it. So if a yacht engineer wants to stop hearing those nagging questions, purchasing a marine water softening system that not only prevents limescale but also reverses it, may well be the solution.