Louise France - domestic heating, plumbing and gas engineer
update needed...

It's no secret we live in a hard water area.
Here's a pH test done in Islington.

As if we needed proof. Proof enough the scaled up shower heads, unsightly marks on shower screens and tiles and furry kettles. Actually, limescale is also affecting the mechanics of crucial components in your central heating and hot & cold water systems,
not to mention other domestic appliances like washing machines & dishwashers.

Until recently, water softeners have been considered the most full proof method of protecting homes against the ravages of this hard mineral. Water softeners take up space,
are difficult as a retro-fit (the supply to kitchen tap and garden tap must not be softened), require topping up with salt regularly, use electricity and require continual maintenance.

A beautifully simple solution which a German company has come up with, uses the principle of galvanic corrosion, a term familiar to plumbers, (based on the same principle on which batteries work). Essentially, the unit is an inline tube with various components, the most essential being zinc which, whilst being dissolved in the water, changes the structure of the limescale molecules so that they become soft and easily removable and do not form hard to shift deposits.

We've just installed our first aquabion and will be monitoring it's effect over the coming year.

The AQUABION, prevents deposits of limescale from forming and breaks down existing deposits. As such, it is environmentally friendly and can be easily fitted retrospectively.
It is by comparison a fraction of the size of a water softener and requires no maintenance or electricity. It is completely safe to use as drinking water so no need to split the supplies.

Apparently, according to the manufacturers "it even softens water which means that it improves soap lather and gives you nice fluffy hair and softer skin." and "is drinkable and still includes the essential minerals that occur naturally." Actually, they describe it more of a water 'conditioner' than softener...

There are a number of test reports available which seem to back up these findings.
These are available on request. (I'm collating them and they will soon be available).
Roger Bisby, a known to the trade product tester, installed one to a solar system in
Autumn 2011. Six months later he reported that "The unit has been in continuous use
since then and there has been no scale build-up on the visible plumbing components.
In particular, the shower head, WC float valves and tap ends have shown no sign of
scale build-up."
The fact that Roger fitted it to a solar cylinder, is significant because they regularly run
at 75°C, at a temperature when vastly more limescale is formed than, say 60˚C.
I am gathering more intelligence...

The unit comes with 12 month money back guarantee if not completely satisfied and
a 5 year warranty and has a life expectancy of at least 7 years, depending on usage.
The company claim it can work for up to 10 years.

Despite it's size and simplicity, it is not a cheap solution. Similar in price to a good quality water softener, prices for installing the 20mm unit (which has a maximum flow rate of 25 litres per minute), will vary slightly depending on the system already installed and it's age. Currently, the unit itself is £630 plus ancillary equipment (isolation valves etc) and labour, so around £800 fitted, minimum charge, depending on complexity of installation and type of system installed. Please call or email me to arrange a survey.