Electric water descalers to reduce hard water residue

Help your appliances last longer with an electric water descaler that'll shift the limescale.

Tap with limescale

by Eleanor Weaver |

If like 60 per cent of the UK, you live in a hard water area, you’ll understand the frustrations that come from having water loaded with calcium and magnesium minerals.

Having hard water can affect the water pressure in your home, shorten the lifespan of your home appliances, and can interfere with most cleaning tasks.

It can leave mineral stains on clothing from the washing machine, causing quicker wear and tear, and can weaken the effectiveness of detergents and soaps, resulting in soap curd deposits on surfaces, your skin, and crockery coming out of the dishwasher. If you’ve ever seen the white spots on your glassware, you’ll know the struggle!

To fight the limescale, we've listed the best electric water descalers to buy and explained exactly how they can help.

What does an electronic water descaler do?

Also known as water conditioners, an electronic water descaler is an eco-friendly, high-tech device that uses a low voltage current to create a magnetic field that’ll charge the minerals in the water. This charge manipulates the way the minerals behave, causing them to stay in the water rather than building up in your appliances.

This helps to reduce the impact of hard water on your appliances and helps to prevent a future build-up of scale deposits from the minerals.

Washing machine with mineral build-up
©Getty Images

Do electronic water descalers really work?

Yes, and as well as being easy to install, reasonably affordable and requiring little maintenance, an electronic water descaler can help to alleviate the potential effects of hard water on your health. This includes dry skin and hair, especially if you're prone to eczema.

However, you should be aware that a water descaler won’t soften your water, simply prevent the effects of hard water. If you’re looking for something to treat your hard water and completely remove the effect, it’d be best to use a water softener instead.

What if I have lead pipes?

If you have lead pipes, it is not recommended to install a water descaler. The limescale being removed from the inside of the pipe may lead your water to be exposed to lead. According to the Lead Exposure and Poisoning Prevention (LEAPP) Alliance, the same could be true of other descaling solutions and also copper pipes soldered with lead and brass fittings containing lead.

The best electric water descalers

Successfully used in homes and businesses across the world for over 20 years, the Eddy Electronic Water Descaler can be trusted to be highly economical and easy for anyone to fit. It's effective on most types of water pipe and is one of the only electric descalers that come with a risk-free guarantee. It will fit pipes up to 22mm diameter, but if your pipes are larger, the descaler can be altered with the Eddy Extended Cable Set. It's a top recommendation for all hard water homes.

Pros

12-month money-back guarantee and a lifetime repair or replace guarantee.

Cost-effective.

Easy to install.

Cons

Not the cheapest available, but still fantastic value.

Review: "We have terrible problems with scale - it is very visible in the kettle, on the shower screen, and in the bath. We read up about this unit and were rather sceptical but purchased it on the basis it had a money-back guarantee. It is easy to install - it just needs patience but be aware you do need an adjacent plug socket.

"We’ve now had it for a month and I feel it is worthy of a review. Within a few days, it was very apparent that the kettle did not scale anything like it used to and within a week the shower screen and bath were noticeably better as they no longer have that ‘rough’ feel of scale to them when you come to clean them. We are still impressed a month on and would fully recommend."

The LP2, Little Plumber's larger of their two domestic units, is ideal for large houses with five or more bedrooms due to its stronger output. Easy to install, simply wrap both coils around your copper or plastic cold water pipe and plug them into a three-pin electrical socket. It'll provide total household protection from mineral build-up and help to prolong the life of your household appliances, saving you money in the long run.

Pros

100 per cent money-back guarantee.

Easy to install.

Cons

It's called a water softener and electronic descaler, but only really works as the latter.

Review: "We live in a hard water area and have to replace the electric shower every 2 years. Thought we would try this as the shower needed to be replaced. Within 2 weeks the LP2 has paid for itself as we have not needed to replace the shower, which is now nearly limescale free. We have also noticed that the dishwasher and washing machine programmes are faster and the sinks and bath are much cleaner.

"Easy to fit if you know what you’re doing - perhaps the negative reviews are because the LP hasn’t been fitted correctly? Would 100 per cent recommend."

We love the compact design of this electrical water descaler and the fact it looks more discreet, much like other electrical devices in the home. Designed to fit pipes from 15mm to 35mm, it requires no maintenance and costs less than £5 a year to run making it a fantastic money-saving device that'll also help keep your heating bills under control. Unrivalled in style, performance, and efficiency, it'll provide the results you need.

Pros

Zero maintenance.

Neat, compact design - much more appeasing to the eye.

Cost-effective.

Cons

No guarantee included.

Review: "Two months on, the showerhead is still clear, although there are deposits in the kettle they do not stick and rinse away. Everything else is easier to clean and less washing up liquid, soap, shampoo, etc is needed.

"Coming from an electronic background I could not bring myself to accept that these devices work. Well, I've fitted one and yes there is a noticeable difference in the water. Less soap and shampoo are needed, watermarks no longer need scrubbing to remove. I descaled the showerhead and kettle before fitting and so far they are still clear. I will update later if any changes."

Manufactured by East Midlands Water Company in Leicester for over 20 years, the System 30 will help to remove limescale throughout your property without the need for chemicals and can be fitted onto all pipe materials including copper and plastic. It's been recommended by a number of reviewers who live in very hard water areas, who have found this electric descaler certainly delivers and stands the test of time, perfect if you're looking for longevity.

Pros

Easy to install.

Trusted UK manufacturer.

Cons

For best results the system should be located close to the rising main to treat as much of your water system as possible, so you may need an extension cord.

Review: "Being in a very hard water area I bought this with crossed fingers, however, it does really work giving softer water for showering and no scum in washing water. A further bonus is that it is very easy to install and no further purchases of chemicals or filters."

The ScaleWatcher 2 Star will condition the water in your home to stop limescale building up and will dissolve any existing limescale leaving your system clean and running efficiently. Whilst most electric descalers are easy to install, this one has been praised for having clear, easy-to-follow instructions with all the components needed in the one box ready to go.

Pros

Money back guarantee and ten year warranty.

Low running cost.

Easy to install.

Cons

More expensive than others on our list.

Review: "This really works, and the lack of limescale buildup is remarkable. I bought this for my 4 bedroom house, but they also have ones for smaller dwellings. I had one before, and wish I'd remembered to take it out of my last home and bring it with me. The water here is very hard, and so limescale deposit build-up is a problem around taps, stainless steel sink, kettle, and the shower glass & tray. It made sense to buy another one. It's worth visiting their website and looking up the lab testing report on this product.

"One of my best purchases and would definitely recommend!"

Suitable for all types of pipework including copper, steel, and plastic, the ScaleWizard will work its magic to reduce scale build-up on taps, basins, showers, and appliances, and prevent future build-ups in your pipes and boilers. It won't provide quick results, but will work as a long-term solution with reviewers finding it was still working after five to 20 plus years!

Pros

Cost-effective.

Three month warranty.

Easy to install.

Cons

Not as cheap to run as other electric descalers at £10 a year.

Review: "I purchased one of these after seeing what a number of years use of the original 'ScaleWatcher' has done in my parents home. As a primary school child (1985/6) I remember the hot water cylinder being replaced due to being full of scale - we had fun chipping the scale away before weighing the copper in for scrap. At some point in the early nineties they ordered and fitted a ScaleWatcher. Fast forward 20+yrs, the tank was replaced for a larger one. The inside of the tank looked practically new! I could describe it as thin even dusting of scale on the inside. I must confess to having been a sceptic when this was originally fitted, but after seeing first hand what it can do am a convert.; hence the decision to purchase similar technology for use in our home."

Electric water descaler vs. water softener

If you live in a very hard water area and want to eliminate the hardness in your water, you may want to consider a water softener instead. A water softener uses an ion exchange to actually remove the minerals that create hard water, replacing calcium and magnesium with salt.

Water softeners

Pros

A water softener will eliminate the hardness in your water and reduce your grains per gallon (GPG) count to zero.

Will effectively remove the impact and effects of hard water on your skin, clothing, and hair.

Cons

Water softeners are much more expensive with extra costs attached e.g. salt.

They require higher maintenance.

Take up a significant amount of space to install.

Less eco-friendly - water softeners replace healthy minerals like magnesium and calcium with unhealthy minerals like sodium.

Electric water descaler

Pros

Chemical-free, zero-salt water treatment.

Much more affordable in comparison to salt-based softeners, with no costs attached.

Requires minimal space to install, and minimal maintenance.

Retains healthy calcium and magnesium minerals.

Cons

Less effective than a salt-based softener so not all hard water impacts on skin, hair, and clothing will be eliminated.

Less scientific evidence to prove how well it works.

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