It is actually fairly easy to identify a home that suffers from hard water. If you have difficulty getting soaps to lather or you don’t feel that you can ever get your tub or fixtures clean no matter how much cleaning product you use you may have issues. Another effect of hard water that is easy to spot is a white crusty build up that can form around shower heads, water faucets, spray tips in your dishwasher, and soap scum lines around your bathtub. There are many home test kits you can purchase to confirm our suspicions. You can get hard-core with the Hanna Instruments-Water Quality Test Kit, go basic with the Hach Co. Hardness Test Kit, or try the cool HM Digital Water Quality Tester.
There is a quick and dirty test for determining if you have hard water, it involves nothing more than an empty water bottle and some dish soap.
Take the empty water bottle and fill it part way up with water from your sink.
Close the bottle and shake it to make sure any residue is rinsed from the bottle.
Pour the water out and then fill it about half way up again with clean water.
Add a few drops of liquid dish soap, maybe 5 or 6. Close the cap and give the bottle a good shake.
If the bottle is full of suds to the point that suds overflow when you remove the cap, you don’t have hard water. However, if the suds immediately dissolve, if you have to shake a long time to get suds, or if all you get is a soapy residue you may need a water softener.
What is it anyway?
The white build-up that is on fixtures is actually accumulated crystals of calcium and magnesium. These minerals and others can lead to problems throughout the house. High mineral content, which is usually not harmful to the human body can be troublesome by leaving a soap scum on your body that can contribute to clogged pores and limp hair. The high content of minerals can also be troublesome to your household by shortening the life of your appliances, fixtures, and pipes. Some of the most reported issues with hard water are clogged pipes and weak water pressure followed by a decreased efficiency of water heaters.
This build up of mineral deposits can lead to unexpected repairs on appliances, water heaters and plumbing. Your washing machine can lose pressure or even clog if the mineral build up is too great. Your water heater can lose years of its expected life span if it fills with mineral deposits. In some cases the minerals can cause older fixtures to lose their finish, the lamination literally wearing off due to the mineral build up.
These operational and cosmetic issues are ones that will build up slowly and become an expense that increases over time. While softening your water may not seem like a priority right now you will be glad you did. To learn about some of the top ways to soften water you should read about water softeners here and reverse osmosis systems here. Either of these systems will help your appliances last longer, be easier to maintain, and be more efficient. Look over the top rated water treatment systems here.