Magnetic water conditioners are used to treat the effects of hard water. They work by creating a magnetic field that causes the calcium carbonate (limescale) that is naturally found in water to remain in solution, thus preventing it from furring up as scale inside water pipes.
This method of water treatment is a controversial subject. Although they have long been used in industry, the science is not yet fully understood and so there is no authoritative word on how effective they are.
There is however, plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest they work, and one UK based supplier, Water Improvements Limited, has even commissioned a laboratory trial by the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Bath to verify their effectiveness.
The trial was conducted over 30 days with two systems of copper pipes. One system was attached to a Waterimp water conditioner, the other was a control system with no conditioner. At the end of the trail there is a clear difference in the amount of deposition of scale on the two pipes.
Figure 1 shows the pipe system after 30 days with a waterimp attached.
Figure 2 shows the control pipe system after 30 days (no waterimp).
The trial found 3 main conclusions:
- The device was shown to reduce the deposition of scale under the conditions tested. This was confirmed by analysis of both total dissolved solids (TDS) and conductivity in parallel trials using a simulated domestic hot water / radiator heating system.
- The device prevented the deposition of approximately 10 mg of scale/day for 30cm length of 1 inch pipe under the conditions tested.
- The device was shown not to effect the pH of water passing through piping where it has been installed.
So, armed with this information and the wealth of positive testimonials that WaterImp have on their website, I decided to give their basic unit, the Elf, a road test. I live in a 3 bedroom property, so according to their site, this should be sufficient.
Southern England is mostly a hard water area and as a consequence our shower doors are constantly covered in a thin film of limescale:
I have now installed the Elf, coiled around my mains inlet pipe underneath my kitchen sink, and I plan to see over the coming months how well it does. Unfortunately for me, the mains riser in my house is located in a bit of an awkward position, with little access space. However, once I managed to get to the plug socket behind my washing machine, installing the unit itself was incredibly easy. Once it powered up, the LEDs flash happily in a variety of sequences to indicate the circuitry is functioning.
I will post the results of my road test later in the year. I’m aware that it doesn’t work for everyone, but hopefully I will be able to join the army of enthusiasts that swear by theirs, and banish limescale for good. Of course, the Elf comes with a generous 190 day guarantee so if it doesn’t work I can always send it back.