Removing Hard Water Deposits from your Faucets


You know about these deposits.  I’ve lived in pretty much all the quadrants of the OKC metro and have always had to deal with hard water deposits.  Until I learned how to deal with it appropriately it was often an irritant as water flow was slow of erratic.

So if this sounds familiar, it’s time for a good cleaning.

To remove hard water deposits from your faucet, start by unscrewing the end of the faucet aerator.  These should be just hand tight and removable with a towel.  Take extra care if you have to use a tool and leave the towel between the tool and the aerator.

As you can see, there’s a lot of buildup on this one. Remove any rubber gaskets (don’t lose the pieces and pay attention to what order they assemble in the unit-VERY IMPORTANT).  Manually give the filter a good scrub with an old toothbrush under running water.  This will remove loose surface deposits.

Here’s the secret for removing the calcium and rust in a hurry.  Because calcium is an alkaline earth metal (meaning it has two valence electrons in its outer shell), it’s highly reactive with acids, like vinegar.  If we apply a little more kitchen chemistry, you’ll remember that chemical reactions require energy.  So – heat up enough vinegar (I usually use white vinegar for cleaning) to fully submerge the faucet filter.  Get it hot enough so that is uncomfortable to stick your finger it, not boiling.  Place the faucet filter in the hot vinegar, and watch it go to work.  See all those little bubbles?

Let it sit until it stops bubbling (I left mine in for an hour or so while I went and worked on other things).  Give it a good rinse and scrub with the toothbrush, and it looks almost like new.

If all goes well, the water flows the way it’s supposed to again, too.

The shower heads are often in much the same state.

If you have a flexible shower head,  just place the shower head in a basin on the shower floor.

soaking in vinegar

If you don’t have a hand-held shower head, you can use a plastic bag and a rubber band to secure the vinegar around the shower head for soaking.

Scrub and rinse, and Ta – Daa!  Much better!  Now the shower doesn’t spray sideways past the shower curtain any more.

So let’s get this done before you sell.  A good home inspector will put this type of deficiency in his report and you will have to do it anyway, and it may be more costly if it’s put off too long.

If you are cleaning hard water deposits often, consider the very real possibility that all your plumbing is getting corroded.  Installing a water softener may very well be worth the investment in the long run.

Happy Cleaning!


Scott Price, CPI, #1532
Certified Home Inspector
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