Several areas can be affected by hard water, and identifying them is the easiest way to minimize the problem before it gets worse, costing you hundreds of dollars. Starting with the bathroom, lime scale buildup can happen on the faucet or the showerheads. It’s very easy to see if you have a ring around the tub or even the toilet that comes quickly even after cleaning.
Soap scum in the shower is another area that hard water shows its effects, and can also leave an unpleasant odor just based on buildup. Swimming pools are also susceptible to hard water and can be identified by having a cloudy appearance. Regular care of the pool won’t get rid of this unless the actual hard water is being treated, and not the pool.
In the kitchen a restricted water flow from the faucet could be due to hard water buildup in the pipes, which causes it to spurt out and then come out slow. This frenetic pace by the water shows that minimal damage is there that will eventually turn into major damage if not treated. For more information on hard water areas and where they like to thrive most, read below so that you are well equipped to deal with it and the possibilities.
If You Have Hard Water
There are many ways to tell if you have hard water, whether it is using specialized tools from hardware stores or even having a professional coming out and testing it. Some companies even send out free hard water kits that gauge just how hard the water is based on level. Hard water isn’t just something that you can point out on a map, everyone’s situation is different.
A map guide is a good starting point but ultimate won’t give you all the information you need to make a decision about whether you have hard water or not. For a simple and cheap DIY trick, a simple bottle of water and a faucet is a good way to gauge if you have hard water. Fill a plastic water bottle half of the way up and then shake it around a bit before dumping it out in the sink.
Fill it up again the same amount but this time drop in about 5 to 6 drops of liquid dish soap, any kind will do. Shake it up again just a couple of times and then take off the cap, paying close attention to whether the bottle is full of soap suds that flow out of the bottle. If they do, then you don’t have hard water and have nothing to worry about. If you end up having to shake the bottle more than needed just to get the suds to appear, then that is a clear indicator of hard water.
The worst case scenario is if the only thing you get is soapy film, which means that you have extremely hard water, and should definitely consider a water softener option.
Levels of Hardness
There is definitely an exact science to water hardness that puts it in different classifications, and is measured by the minerals dissolved in the water. Combining that measurement with the water’s temperature and pH levels gives you a good idea of the hardness levels and where it stands.
To further break it down into categories, combining hardness in mg/L, hardness in mmol/L, hardness in dGH/dh, hardness in gpg and hardness in ppm gives the classifications of the level of hardness of water. It can be soft, moderately hard, hard or very hard. Using the water bottle trick is a great test to figure out if you have hard water, but to get an exact level you would need special devices, kits, or a professional.
This exact measurement would also help in figuring out if you need a heavy duty water softener or if you can get by with just a normal one. The last thing you would want to do is overtax your water softener before you’ve even installed it, wasting money and damaging the system before it has had a chance to clean things out.
There are many hard water areas in and around your house, and that is not even including the most important source, your hot water heater. Once hard water goes to work on that, in a couple of years’ time consumers ending up getting bills bigger than their house note.
The best way to avoid this scenario is to make it a point to locate these areas, find out what type of water you have and take action as soon as possible. Water softeners of all types are available, with installs that take under an hour to mere minutes. By attacking hard water at the source, you protect your investment for years down the road.