Do you suspect calcium buildup in your drains? Calcium buildup, also known as limescale, develops naturally, especially if your home has hard water.
Limescale can cause damage to your plumbing pipes, so you want to address the situation at the first signs of a problem.
In this PlumbingNav guide, we will cover:
- What dissolves calcium buildup in drains?
- Why does calcium and limescale buildup in pipes matter?
- The truth about dissolving calcium buildup in drain pipes
- How to get rid of calcium and hard water buildup in drains
|What's In This Guide?|
What Dissolves Calcium Build Up in Drains?
For minor build ups, you can use a variety of limescale removers and similar products, or you can create your own environmentally friendly mixture of vinegar and baking soda to dissolve calcium buildup. For major ones, you will likely need to call a plumber who uses professional water jetting equipment.
What Causes Calcium Build up?
Calcium buildup refers to the accumulation of calcium deposits and other minerals in your pipes, and it can also be visible on faucets and other fixtures.
Hard water, which is simply water with especially high levels of minerals inside, creates calcium buildup much more quickly than soft water. That said, all water contains minerals.
Signs of Calcium Buildup
Calcium deposits appear white in color, and you may start to see them around the different fixtures around your home, such as your shower drain or your kitchen sink faucet. However, you may not notice these right away if they develop deep inside your water pipes.
You may experience skin irritation and excessive amounts of soap scum also, indicating high levels of mineral deposits in your plumbing.
The greatest sign of a problem will come in the form of a clogged drain. (Use the indicators mentioned above to confirm whether the clog developed from calcium buildup or something else).
Even though mineral deposits start small, they stick to your pipes quite well. As more mineral deposits flow through your plumbing system, it builds on top of the mineral deposits already there. This eventually creates a serious blockage as less water can move through your pipes.
You will notice a clog in your supply line if you have lower water pressure than usual. You will notice a clog in your sewer line or drain pipe if your fixtures don’t drain properly, or are much slower than normal.
Clogs can eventually lead to leaks and expensive plumbing repairs.
Why Do Calcium and Limescale Build Up in Pipes Matter?
Hard Water Stains
While only aesthetically problematic, limescale can develop stains in your sink or tub. The dark stains don’t come up easily.
Calcium sediment accumulates in your pipes, with new buildup piling on top of old deposits over time. When your pipes experience enough calcium buildup, it can clog your pipes.
The clog can negatively impact water flow and even create water damage in your home if sinks and tubs can’t drain properly.
When a drain has a stubborn clog, it requires additional pressure to force water through it.
The additional pressure created can cause damage to the pipes, creating a plumbing leak (and higher water bills along with potential plumbing repairs).
The Truth About Dissolving Calcium Build up In Drain Pipes
First, we want to express that hard water and calcium buildup aren’t necessarily hazardous to your health. Some reports in the past have linked it to certain medical conditions with limited success. While not toxic, it certainly is annoying.
The second truth is that calcium buildup, while not completely preventable, is certainly manageable if you take the proper precautions in advance.
Buy a water softener if you know that you have hard water. You should also use PVC pipe and copper pipe that won’t succumb to mineral deposits as quickly as steel or cast iron. PVC pipe and copper pipe will experience calcium buildup over time, too. Just more slowly.
When you already have calcium buildup, you’ll need to take action.
Learn more about how to care for your plumbing system before you experience a problem with our guide on the 7 best plumbing maintenance tips.
How To Get Rid of Calcium and Hard Water Build Up in Drains
For the main drain lines, you will need special equipment to “blast” away these hard water deposits. This is often referred to as hot jetting. Here is a video demonstrating how a professional can access your main drain line to remove these:
Removing Calcium Buildup in Smaller Drains (You Can Access)
To remove calcium buildup in drains, you’ll want to start by cleaning the buildup off of the affected plumbing faucets. Since the fixtures may be made from different materials than your pipes, clean the fixtures appropriately if they are bronze.
After you’ve cleaned your faucet or showerhead, you will need to clean inside your drain pipes.
If located in your drain pipe and sewer pipe, you can create a mixture of one part white vinegar and one part baking soda if it’s not too bad.
Once you create your mixture, use it right away as the chemical reaction is most effective when the ingredients first come into contact with each other. You can add water to create your preferred consistency and add lemon juice to add acid to the mix.
You don’t need to mix the ingredients in advance. You can pour baking soda down the drain followed by the white vinegar. You will know it’s working when you hear it fizz up.
Allow the cleaner to sit for at least 10 – 15 minutes.
While relatively safe for your pipes, you don’t want to let it sit too much longer than that.
Flush your pipes thoroughly with hot water. You want the water to carry out the loose mineral deposits and the chemicals in your drain.
Repeat as necessary at the different fixtures in your home.
You may be able to use a drain cleaner if you don’t like the idea of creating your own solution. Always pick a drain cleaner that’s suitable for your pipes and the clog (in this case – mineral deposits).
You can use an electric auger or snake if a clog developed or gotten stuck in a narrowed pipe or turn due calcium buildups deep in your plumbing system.
Bigger calcium build-up in main drain line? You may have to call in a professional who can access this with the right equipment. Your solution isn’t going to work on main drain line issues.
Removing Calcium Buildup in PVC Pipes/PEX pipes Near Faucets
When you notice excessive amounts of calcium buildup on your PVC pipe or PEX pipe in your supply line, you can follow this video guide.
Mineral deposits won’t show up on plastic piping until the end of its lifespan. Otherwise, they are more resistant to calcium buildup.
To remove the mineral deposits that you can access, use a natural cleanser made from vinegar and baking soda or a gentle cleanser that won’t damage plastic pipes, as they aren’t as strong as copper pipes.
What dissolves calcium build up in drains?
The best solution for calcium buildup is a combination of baking soda and distilled white vinegar. You may also find drain cleaners that effectively clean calcium deposits (but check the label as not all do).
How to remove limescale from inside pipes?
To remove limescale from inside pipes, pour a solution comprised of vinegar and baking soda down your drain. Let it sit for 10 – 15 minutes. Flush thoroughly.
Is calcium and mineral buildup in copper pipes a problem?
Calcium and mineral buildup create a minor inconvenience and may indicate hard water, but it’s not an emergency if you handle it in a timely fashion. It will become a problem if you let it clog your pipe and create a leak.
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