Indicators and Tests to know if you have Hard Water at Home

Water with high minerals (calcium and magnesium) is known as hard water. According to USGS, around 85 percent of water in the US is classified as hard water. A majority of us have faced the problem of hard water in our homes. In this article, we are going to discuss how you can know that you have hard water at home.  We will discuss some of the general indicators and also discuss some of the tests that can you can do on your water to know the level of hardness.

General Indicators

People who are facing hard water problems have most commonly reported the following issues. You can also lookout for the following to check the quality of water in your home.

Crockery Problems: Your glass crockery will not be crystal clear when washed with hard water. It will develop a white- grayish deposit and form clouds due to hard water. Minerals in hard water prevent the soap from being washed away thoroughly, and it builds up on the surface of crockery.

Dirty Washrooms: Tiles, faucets, showers, and tubs will have stains of soaps when washed with hard water. The residue is soap buildup due to improper washing with hard water. No matter how much you try to clean them off, the stains will be left because of hard water.

Skin and Hair Dryness: Have you noticed the difference in your skin and hair when you bath at any other place other than your home. The reason is the hardness of the water. If you have recently moved to a new place and started noticing dryness and dandruff on your skin and hair, the culprit is most probably hard water.

Lather Issues: Hard water does not make proper foamy lather with soaps and shampoos. The minerals like calcium and magnesium form insoluble lime with soap and prevent lather formation. This also makes it difficult to wash away the soaps and shampoos. The residual soaps and shampoos get deposited on your skin and result in dryness and dandruff.

Dirty Clothes: Hard water also makes your washed clothes look dirty. You may notice stains are not thoroughly washed away, even after washing your clothes for a long time. The reason is that hard water prevents the proper rinsing of detergents and results in stains not properly being cleaned. The unwashed detergent also leaves behind its stains and marks when the clothes get dry. Check this guide to remove hard water stains if you have any.

Appliance and Plumbing Problems: Hard water can reduce the life of plumbing and water appliances in your home. The calcium and magnesium buildup in the form of white scale leads to the reduced working efficiency of your devices like dishwashers, coffee makers, and washing machines. It also reduces the life of plumbing fixtures. If you notice a buildup on appliances and plumbing, it is due to hard water.

Tests for Water Hardness

Apart from the general indicators, there are some tests you can do to check the hardness of the water. These tests are explained below.

1. Bubbles in the Bottle Test

It is a simple test to check the hardness of the water in your water. This is not a scientific method and will not give the exact results of the water, but it is a fun and an inexpensive way to estimate the hardness of the water in your home. You can do this test with the help of following steps

Step 1: Take a clear bottle with a cap. You can take a half-liter bottle for smooth working and better results.

Step 2: Measure and add exactly 12 ounces (360 mL) of your tap water in the bottle. Now add 10 drops of a good quality washing liquid in the bottle, close the cap and shake it well for a couple of minutes. If there are bubbles in large qualities, you have soft water at home. If there are very few bubbles, you are probably suffering from the problem of hard water.

Step 3: You can also judge the level of hardness through this test. Add 10 more drops of water in the same bottle and shake well for 1-2 minutes. If you see the bottle is filled with bubbles, you are most probably having slightly hard water in your home. If it takes 30 drops to form bubbles in large quantities, you have moderately hard water. 40 drops indicate hard water, and 50 drops indicate very hard water.

Remember, this is just an estimate and not an accurate measure of the hardness of the water in your home.

2. More Accurate Tests

You can also use more accurate ways to know the exact level of hardness of water at your home. The following table about water hardness levels will help you understand the units and results in a better way, and you can also choose the solutions more wisely.

Category Amount in mg/L Amount in grains/gal
Soft Water 0 – 17 0-1
Slightly Hard 17.1 – 60 1-3.5
Moderately Hard 61 – 120 3.5-7.0
Hard 121 – 180 7.0-10.5
Very Hard More than 180 10.5 and above

3. Water Softener Tests

testing for hard water

Most water softener companies provide a free assessment of water hardness in your home. They do this to help you understand the problem and buy their water softeners. These tests have accurate results as these companies have the latest testing technology.

4. Water Quality Report

You can also ask the local authorities to provide you with a water quality report. The problem with this report is that it is a general estimate of the water quality in your area and is not specific to your home. Small wells are not included in this report, so people with well water must get their water tested independently.

5. Test Strips

Test Strip

Another relatively accurate test for water hardness is a test strip. It is a simple test, and you have to dip the strip in water. The change in color indicates the level of hardness in water. The color key is explained on the package of the strip. You can get the strip online or buy it from a nearby water store.

6. Independent Lab Testing

Independent labs do the most reliable and valid test for water hardness. It is costly but gives the best results. People with well water must use this option to get accurate results for their water and then select a water softener according to their needs. Testing labs send you a complete report of hardness, contaminants, and pH of your water.

Water Hardness Problem: Solved

The best way to get rid of water hardness problems is to install a water softener system. They come on different shapes and sizes and make use of water softening salts to provide soft water for the entire home.  It is the most economical and effective solution for dealing with hard water problems.

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