Hard water is water that contains high levels of dissolved calcium and magnesium salts, while soft water contains lower levels of these minerals. Hard water is not ideal, since it can lead to limescale in pipes, and eventually, costly plumbing repairs. Finding out whether or not you have hard water is the first step towards preventing these issues.
Signs of Hard Water
Oftentimes, determining whether you have hard water requires only simple observation. Do you notice that your faucets and fixtures develop mineral spots after they get wet? Perhaps you can spot lime scale around the drain or fixtures in your shower, or maybe there are mineral deposits on your dishes after you wash them. Other signs of hard water include a soap residue in tubs and sinks and low lather formation when using detergents.
Testing for Hard Water
If you suspect you have hard water based on the signs above, your next step should be to conduct a test to confirm that your water is, in fact, hard. Fill an empty plastic water bottle about halfway with water from your tap. Add 10 drops of dish soap (the regular kind, not extra-concentrated), and place the lid on the water bottle. Shake the bottle well. If a foamy, rich lather forms, then you have soft water. If the solution does not really foam, but becomes milky with a soapy film on top, you have hard water.
Another way to test for hard water is to send a sample of your water to a water testing laboratory. Contact your local health department or a plumber in your area to find a local laboratory that handles water testing.
What to Do if Your Water is Hard
If test results confirm that you do have hard water, it's time to take action. The ideal solution is to have a water softener installed. This is an appliance that removes the excess minerals from your water as it enters your home, so all of the water that flows through your taps is soft. This will prevent mineral deposits from forming in your pipes, will help your detergents and soaps work more effectively, and extend the lifespan of your appliances that use water, such as your dishwasher and coffee maker.
Until you are able to have a water softener installed, you can temporarily address the problem by choosing detergents made specifically for hard water. Lime-removing solutions can be used to keep faucets and fixtures looking their best.
Hard water may not cause any immediate problems, but over a period of years, it can lead to a plethora of plumbing issues due to limescale deposits. Take action to soften your water now, so you can avoid costly plumbing repairs later. Talk to your local plumbing service, such as Salinas & Sons Rooter Service, for more information.