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Q.I’ve had several customers interested in salvage sinks and faucets for kitchen and bath remodels. However, most of these old fixtures are covered with water scale. What causes the scale buildup on kitchen and bath faucets and fixtures, and how can it be removed?

A.Scale is normally the result of minerals in the water being left behind as small amounts of water evaporate. It usually consists of various calcium and magnesium salts, with some iron and sulfur compounds mixed in, depending on the local water conditions. Installing a water softener tends to reduce scale formation by exchanging sodium ions for the calcium and magnesium. These sodium compounds are more soluble and don’t build up.

Use white vinegar to remove both the scale and caked-on soap scum from old fixtures.