Have you noticed your shampoo doesn't lather in the shower, your skin tends to always be itchy, and there's soap scum buildup in the bathtub? These are all signs you may have hard water. It’s definitely annoying, and here in Minnesota, it’s a common problem. But, if you know how to test for hard water, you can identify the issue once and for all and start looking for ways to resolve it.
What Makes Water “Hard?"
Water that has a high mineral content is considered "hard." The two big culprits are calcium and magnesium. These minerals may come all the way from the water’s source, or they can be picked up along the way. So, it's possible to have hard water whether your supply comes from a public utility or a private well.
Mineral content in water is measured in grains per gallon, or GPG. Soft water by definition has less than 1 GPG. Therefore, anything with 1 GPG or more is considered hard.
Although 85% of Americans have some level of hard water, Minnesota’s average GPG is among the nation’s highest. So, it’s not uncommon if you're seeing signs such as:
- Scaling, white spots or a powdery film that forms on dishes, glassware, faucets and other fixtures
- Stains in tubs and sinks
- Clothing that fades prematurely, feels
rough,or looks dull after washing
- Dry skin and hair
But hard water isn’t just an aesthetic problem. Mineral deposits can build up in water-using appliances such as your washer, dishwasher, and water heater. Over time, that clogging causes the machine to work harder, wear out faster, and waste water. Hard water is treatable, so it pays to test.
How to Test for Hard Water in Your Home
You can start by using an at-home kit. There are several types of DIY water test kits you can purchase at a box store or online, but they aren't the most accurate testing method. If you have health concerns with your water such as bacteria, nitrates, or arsenic, it is extremely important to get the water tested by a state certified environmental laboratory.
If you want to test for hardness, iron, and chlorine, the simplest way is to consult a professional like Haferman. A professional can come into your home, test your water in greater detail than you can do on your own, then recommend the best options to improve the quality of your water. Water testing is the most accurate when it is tested right after a sample is taken, which is why having a professional come in to your home and test is the best option. Even if your water is not hard, there are dozens of other chemicals that can make your home’s water look, taste, and even smell less than wonderful.
Water is something you use every day, in multiple ways. Testing is the first step toward knowing what’s in your water, so you can take corrective action to protect your appliances and improve the quality of your home’s water supply.