Hard water refers to water with a high level of minerals like lime, magnesium, and calcium. Ideally, drinking water should have some mineral content, but too much can hinder appliance performance and damage your pipes. Hard water can impact your water heater, washing machine, and any other fixture connected to your water supply.
So it is important to identify and take care of hard water quickly. With that in mind, the team at Advantage Plumbing put together this comprehensive guide on how to tell if you have hard water. We will identify common signs of hard water and how to fix them.
Common Signs of Hard Water
Mineral Build-Up Around Spouts
The most obvious sign of hard water is excessive mineral build-up near water faucets and spouts. As hard water flows, it deposits minerals on the lip of the spout. Over time, this residue dries and hardens, making it harder for water to pass through.
The easiest way to clean mineral build-up off spouts is to soak the clogged component in a mixture of distilled water and vinegar. The vinegar will eat through the calcified build-up and remove it from the surface.
Excessive Soap Scum
The mineral content in hard water makes it difficult to dissolve soap and other cleaning liquids. So another common sign of hard water in your home is excessive soap scum in your shower, tub, and sinks. The scummy residue sticks to porcelain and other hard surfaces, leaving a brownish-yellow film.
The best way to remove and prevent the onset of soap scum from hard water is to clean your shower or tub after every use. You can buy a solution specifically for hard water deposits, or you can use a mixture of vinegar, water, and pure liquid soap. The solution will break apart soap scum, so it goes down the drain properly.
Cloudy or Dirty Water
If you think you have hard water, grab a clear cup and fill it with water from the tap. If the water comes out cloudy and white, consider that a probable sign of calcium or magnesium. You may also notice minerals settling to the bottom of cups and bowls.
Itchy Skin After Showering/Bathing
Many people have adverse reactions to the high mineral content in hard water. For example, if you notice that your skin feels scratchy and dry after taking a shower and bath, the problem could be hard water. Hard water can also dry out your hair, removing its natural oils and luster.
You can address immediate discomfort by switching to a hypoallergenic shampoo or body soap. You can also use body lotion to deal with dry skin. However, the best solution is to use a water softener and remove the excessive mineral content.
High Blood Pressure
Some evidence exists that ingesting large quantities of hard water can increase your blood pressure. Excessive iron and magnesium can increase oxidative stress, leading to cell damage and conditions such as hypertension.
Many things can cause high blood pressure, so you need to see a doctor if you have concerns. A doctor can help determine whether installing a water softener would benefit your blood pressure and overall health.
Appliances Are Less Effective
Appliances that use water can become less effective when you have hard water. Mineral content can block water lines, reducing water flow/pressure and impacting appliance effectiveness. If you notice that your dishwasher or washing machine does not properly clean your dishes or clothes, hard water may be the culprit.
Similarly, you may notice that water runs out of your faucets slower than normal. If your water pressure is low even when you completely open the faucet, hard water is likely to blame. A simple solution here is to install a water softener.
Water Tastes Strange
Ordinary tap water should contain trace amounts of minerals in it but not enough to taste. However, hard water can cause your tap water to have a strange, metallic taste. You may also notice that your water has a residue that settles to the bottom of the glass.
Don’t worry too much if you notice mineral deposits in your drinking water—hard water tastes strange, but it is not bad for your health. Most people can drink hard water with little to no adverse side effects.
How To Test Your Water
Are you still wondering how to tell if you have hard water? Unfortunately, you cannot definitively know you have hard water just from a visual inspection. If you suspect you have a hard water problem, then your best bet is to buy a water test kit. Water testing kits measure the mineral content of your water, so you know if it has excessive build-up.
Most water testing kits come with a small pouch of testing strips. Dip the strips in the water, and they will change color depending on the water’s mineral content. You can use testing strips on any water source, including your sink, washing machine, garden hose, tub faucet, and showerhead.
How Can I Fix Hard Water?
If you do have hard water, don’t fret. You have a relatively simple solution readily available to help. The best way to combat hard water is by installing a water softener that will filter out minerals. Water softeners contain filters that replace minerals in the water with sodium, which dissolves much easier.
You can install a water softener on your own if you have a bit of plumbing knowledge and the right tools. However, most people will want to call a professional to do the job for them. As plumbing experts in Schaumburg, Advantage Plumbing has experience installing water softeners on all kinds of modern plumbing systems.
Contact Us Today!
It’s important to know how to tell if you have hard water. That way, you can take steps to minimize damages and correct the issue. As licensed plumbing providers, Advantage Plumbing can assist with diagnosing and fixing your hard water problem.
If you have any questions about hard water and hard-water testing, or would like to learn more about plumbing repair services, contact us online or give us a call at (847) 268-3553 today to schedule an appointment!