Hard water stains are a very common problem. Whether at home or at the office, these stains affect all kinds of surfaces. Worst of all, these kinds of stains don’t just come off by scrubbing with soap and water.

The Hard Facts on Hard Water

In order to handle hard water stains, you have to understand how it works and how it affects a glass surface. Those nasty streaks on windows aren’t necessarily coming from dirt and grime, though, they’re actually coming from the water itself. This happens with sprinklers or having a property by the coast, or perhaps hard water stains have occurred from the abundance of rainwater. But, what exactly is considered a hard water stain?

“Hard” water means that there is a high concentration of minerals that have dissolved into particles usually of magnesium and calcium carbonates.  Once the hard water has vaporized, the mineral stains on windows give it that streaky look.

Hard water was probably present when you last washed your hands or from your tap. Most wells or municipal pipes have minerals in the water. However, magnesium and calcium that makes it into your drinking water are fine because your body benefits from it in small amounts. What doesn’t benefit from these concentrated deposits are pretty much anything else that it comes in contact with.

If you were to look at glass through a microscope, you’d find that it is extremely porous and spongelike. The mineral stains are more of a surface stain. If dirt and grime were the cause of streaky windows, it would be an easy clean with a white pad or steel wool. However, mineral stains can damage your windows even after a short amount of time.

Now let’s go back to high school chemistry. Remember pH (the scale that measures how acidic or alkalotic an aqueous solution is)? Well, hard stains are alkalotic meaning the pH is higher than 7. So, in order to “soften” water, there must be a more acidic base (< 7 pH). For household maintenance, white vinegar and a good scrub should do the trick, but commercial windows will need the right expertise and the appropriate chemical solutions to combat these hard stains.

Most importantly, chemicals will be required once these minerals are absorbed into the glass.

For commercial windows, there’s a responsibility to maintain a building, so some storefronts opt for their own employees to clean their windows. However, if the hard water stain is severe enough, a professional should be considered so that there is no damage to your windows since glass can be easily mishandled. Unfortunately, there are cases in which hard water stains cannot come off. This means, cover your ears!… possible window replacements!

Our team at  Century Building Maintenance has the tools and skills to get rid of hard water stains on your windows. Give us a call for your free estimate at 800-698-0592!

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