Yellow scale in toilet pan
April 2, 2006 3:10 AM   Subscribe

Why am I getting a an unpleasant buildup of scale on my toilet and how can I stop it?

When I moved into this place, the toilet already had a big buildup of yellow scale. After a while, the smell started getting noticable, like rank old urine.

I got some descaler from the plumbing supplies place - hydrochloric acid or 'spirit of salts' and cleaned it off. This sorted out the smell as well.

A few weeks later, and the scale along with it's odour is coming back. As you can see in the picture, it's starting under the water level, but it was over the whole toilet before. The water hardness is the same as other places I've lived in, and my toilet habits have not undergone any drastic changes.

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posted by lunkfish to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Limescale is a fact of life of living in London, sadly. I don't know why it's worse in this place than your last, but I've experienced the same thing in different degrees of severity in various homes and offices over the last 20-odd years.

A Steradent tablet dropped down the loo once a week should keep it at bay and keep the toilet clean. I don't think there's a lot that can be done to prevent it, though.
posted by essexjan at 4:30 AM on April 2, 2006

I had exactly the same problem in my old flat (also in London). I couldn't figure it out either. I've found tipping a bottle of supermarket-brand coke or other fizzy drink will treat the symptoms, if not cure it completely - leave it in for 20 minutes then flush, it cleans it just as well as industrial cleaners but a lot moe cheaply.
posted by greycap at 4:48 AM on April 2, 2006

Are you on a well or city water? The stains in the pic look a lot like the result of untreated well water.
Is there a water softener in the system? If so, it would appear that it isn't functioning correctly.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:12 AM on April 2, 2006

Limescale is indeed a fact of life in london (and other places with limy water) bleech-based tablets in the tank will help reduce the build up, but you're probably just going to have to clean it up with limescale remover every month or so anyway.
posted by tiamat at 8:24 AM on April 2, 2006

Mine does that too (I'm not in London) -- I find it helps if I give it a few swooshes (technical term) with a toilet brush every few days -- not a major scrub down -- I don't use any cleaning product for this, I just swish the brush around a few times. It seems to keep the buildup down with a relatively small amount of effort.
posted by redheadeb at 10:16 AM on April 2, 2006

Thanks. Interesting that it never happened before...looks like I'll just have to clean it more.
posted by lunkfish at 10:39 AM on April 2, 2006

Harpic 100% limescale remover is brilliant - I'm sure other own brand products will work just as well. Just be careful not to get any in contact with your skin as it is really harsh, and will burn!
posted by kitschbitch at 1:25 PM on April 2, 2006

Limescale is indeed a fact of life in london (and other places with limy water)

Hey tiamat, don't you mean limey.

posted by Dasein at 2:48 PM on April 2, 2006

Thank you, lunkfish. I'm in the States (the SF Bay Area) and have the same problem. I thought it (especially the god-awful smell) was caused by a combo of infrequent flushings (to save water) and cleanings. FYI, I've dealt with it by using CLR, letting it soak for a few minutes.
posted by MikeKD at 6:04 PM on April 2, 2006

Keep a bottle of cheap white vinegar next to the toilet, and follow each flush with a slosh of that. Keeping the water in your S-bend acid at all times will discourage the growth of the brown bacterial films that produce the delightful old-piss odour. Plus, you'll need less effort with the brush.

Don't put vinegar in your cistern, though, or it will corrode the crap out of everything.
posted by flabdablet at 7:31 PM on April 2, 2006

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