Around 85% of American homes are supplied with water that is categorized as hard. Hard water is safe to consume, but it can cause a number of problems in your home. The formation of scale on the surface and inside plumbing pipes, fixtures and appliances causes damage and lowers the lifespan. Sinks, tubs and showers are harder to clean and the water spots will always return until the underlying problem is resolved. Even our skin and hair are affected because the minerals clog our pores and tangle in our hair. The easiest way to check for hard water is to carry out a water hardness test.  Here are three ways to test for hard water problems, and confirm that you need a water softener.

1.  Consult with Your City

By July 1 every year, you should receive a drinking water quality or consumer confidence report via email or in the mail from your local water supplier. This document will inform you about the source of your water, what it contains and in some municipalities, the water hardness concentrations. If you cannot find the information that you need, contact the water supplier and they may be able to help you.

2.  A DIY Water Test

Before you spring for a water test, you can carry out your own scientific test with items you already have in your home. Find a clear, clean and empty bottle and fill it to around one third full directly from any tap in your home. Then add a couple of drops of pure liquid soap and shake the bottle for several seconds. Take a look at the contents, if the water appears cloudy or it has a milky color, then it’s hard. But, if the bottle is filled with bubbles and the water is at rest at the bottom of the bottle, then your water is soft. For the best results, this test should be done with a basic Castile type of soap that is free of perfumes, detergents, dyes and other impurities. This is because many liquid soaps have detergent included as part of their formula, and they are often designed to lather with both soft and hard water.

3.  Water Testing Kits

The basic DIY water test described above will only give you a yes or no answer about the presence of hard water. To make informed decisions, you need more accurate information and you can do this yourself with a water testing kit. These kits can be found at most home improvement stores and they typically cost less than $10. Alternatively, you can contact your local water treatment specialist and ask them about free water testing. Using a water test kit is simple; fill a glass of water, insert the testing strip for a few seconds and check the color. A color change chart should be included in the kit and each color will represent the water hardness as grains per gallon or gpg. Don’t place the test strip under a running tap because that can produce inaccurate results.

Evaluating the Test Results

The average hardness of water in the U.S. is 13 gpg which is “very hard” and 14 gpg or higher would be considered “extremely hard”. But, hard water affects your home when it reaches and exceeds 7 gpg, and reducing the hardness should be a priority. The best way to soften our water is with a professionally installed ion-exchange water softener. If you want to learn more about water testing and softening, contact your local water treatment specialist today.

By EcoWater Systems.
EcoWater Systems of Nebraska is the largest water treatment company in the state and is a member of Water Quality Association.