A Simple Guide to Cleaning Calcium Buildup in Your Pressure Washer

Published:

7/21/2021

As a general contractor, your business growth is highly dependent on the effectiveness of your pressure washer. Keep in mind that you're working on multiple clients every week, and if your machine doesn't provide the expected results, you'll lose business. 


While this seems like an easy thing to do, calcium buildup in pressure washers is very common. This is because around 85% of the US has hard water. Without regular maintenance, this type of water can cause scale buildup, which then damages your machine. 


In this blog, we will educate you on the negative effects of calcium buildup and provide maintenance tips to help clean the scale in your pressure washer. Check out our quick guide below!


What Is Calcium Buildup?

Most areas in the country are supplied with hard water, and North Texas is no different. In essence, hard water is mainly rainwater that has dissolved minerals and carbon dioxide to form bicarbonates. Calcium buildup is formed when the coil in your pressure washer heats up the hard water and turns it into limescale or calcium carbonate. 


Impacts of Calcium Buildup


1.) Restriction of water flow


This buildup accumulates over time and starts restricting water flow through the machine. After a while, it results in metal corrosion, ultimately reducing your pressure washer's life. Limescale is also a poor heat conductor, and when it covers the heat source of the coil, it insulates it. 

As a pressure washing contractor, you definitely understand the cost-effectiveness of hot water. It enhances the soap's effectiveness and breaks down the contaminants you're trying to remove, ultimately saving time.

Calcium buildup, however, reduces the machine's effectiveness and its ability to maintain hot water. The restriction of water also impacts the flow rate, placing a strain on the pump's motor. The end result is early wear and tear and, in some cases, complete failure of the pressure washer. 


2.) Reduced effectiveness of soap and detergents


Another common effect of calcium buildup is that it reduces the effectiveness of soaps and detergents. When the soap is dissolved in water, its molecules react with the minerals in limescale, reducing lather formation and eventually forming scum. These precipitates then render the soap ineffective, which means you have to use more detergent to get the desired results.  


Other impacts include:

- Loss of water pressure.

- Blockages in the washer's pump.

- It can cause the premature failure of heating elements.

- Reduction of energy efficiency by reducing the rate at which heat is transferred from the burner to the water.


How to Prevent Calcium Buildup in Your Pressure Washer

There are 2 main ways of reducing calcium buildup in pressure washers:

1.) Allow the washer's heat coil to cool down completely after every session. When hard water becomes hot, it forms precipitates which cause more buildup in your machine. If you don't allow the washer's burner to properly cool down, the formation of calcium scale will accelerate, increasing its wear and tear. Make sure you also flush out the debris from your washer using cold water to reduce the deposits left in the pump. Don't forget to check the machine's manual on the proper way to cool down the machine. 


2.) Use water softeners. The main cause of calcium buildup is hard water, and if you can avoid using it, your pressure washer will be safe. If you only have access to hard water, you should use water softeners to eliminate magnesium and calcium from hard water, reducing the scale buildup. They also save you money in the long run by reducing the amount of detergent needed to achieve a better finish. 


How to Clean Calcium Buildup in Your Pressure Washer

If your pressure washer already has calcium buildup, it's not too late to fix it. Here are 3 main options you should pursue. 


1.) Remove Parts and Accessories 

Remove some parts and accessories from your pressure washer, and then clean them with an anti-limescale product like white vinegar. Since these products are usually acidic, they will 'eat through' the limescale, reducing the amount of calcium buildup in your pressure washer. Ensure you carefully dismantle the machine to avoid breaking the seals or damaging any parts. 


2.) Use Vinegar

Clear the pressure washer of water and run anti-limescale products and/or vinegar through it. 

It's important to note that for the above 2 methods, you have to use a lot of white vinegar and leave it in the washer or soak the parts for at least 24 hours. This will give it enough time to react with the calcium buildup and dissolve the minerals. 

Since there are various brands of pressure washers in the market, it's difficult to identify a singular method that you should use to dismantle the machine. This is because even though they all have the same function, their assembly varies, so be careful when you're removing the scaled components.


3.) Professional Maintenance

No matter how well you take care of your pressure washer, calcium buildup is bound to occur due to regular usage. The first 2 preventive measures are only good in the short run, but if you're looking for a more effective solution, you should have your pressure washer regularly checked and maintained by a professional. This also eliminates your chances of damaging parts, which can result in expensive repairs.

We’ll Help Keep Your Pressure Washer in Great Condition

Calcium buildup in pressure washers is a common occurrence in the US since most of the areas have hard water. If you allow this limescale to accumulate, it will restrict water flow and reduce the effectiveness of your washer. The minerals in the scale also react with detergent, reducing its ability to form lather.  


To maintain the washer's efficiency, you should use water softeners to dissolve the elements found in hard water or allow the heater to cool down after use. This will reduce the amount of limescale formed, keeping your machine in optimal condition. If your pressure washer already has calcium buildup, you can either go the DIY route or opt for professional maintenance from NorTex Sales & Service


However, by cleaning the calcium buildup yourself, you increase the chances of damaging the parts, which are often expensive to repair. Professional maintenance gets the job done and ensures your machine remains intact.


Is the efficiency of your pressure washer compromised by calcium buildup? We'd love to help! Contact us today at our Dallas, Kilgore, and Odessa branches for quality services. 


To find out more about pressure washer maintenance, check out our complete pressure washer maintenance handbook here.