How To Test Water Hardness: 4 Simple Ways

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How to Test Water Hardness

How to test water hardness? There are many different ways to do a water hardness test, including getting an at-home hard water test kit or calling a professional to determine the level of hardness of your water. Each method is different, and your choice will depend on many factors such as your budget and the amount of time you have.

Hard water isn’t something we think about very often. Oh, you might be fleetingly aware of it when you step out of the shower and feel like your skin is dry, or when you have to clean your bathroom, but otherwise, it might not be enough of an issue to worry much about it. That’s what I thought, too. Until I had to worry about how hard my water is. 

I started having problems with my hot water heater. It wasn’t working as it should be, and I couldn’t understand why. So, I did a bunch of research about why it might not be working, and then I called a professional. 

The first thing he did? You guessed it, he did a water hardness test to determine if my water heater could be clogged with minerals. What came back had me floored, but first, I want to let you know a little bit about hard water, and how it’s measured.

How to Test Water Hardness

  1. Soap Test
  2. Hard Water Test Kit
  3. Request a City Water Report
  4. Lab Testing

What are the Effects of Hard Water on Your Home?

While it might be easy to look at hard water and say it’s no big deal, it can actually have a significant impact on how many parts of your homework – and look. You have probably noticed it in places such as your bathroom, where you have a buildup of hard water that can look chalky or even rusty.

This buildup not only causes problems for cleaning, but it also builds up within the pipes. It can reduce the water that flows into your house. It can mess up your water heater, and your appliances. The fridge, the dishwasher, and washer and dryer can all be affected by the buildup of minerals in hard water. Coffee makers are also at risk.

How to Test Water Hardness

Over time, this buildup can be costly because it’s really tough to get rid of. And once it’s in the pipes, you can’t just run vinegar through them to get rid of it.

Not only can hard water build up, but it also makes your cleaners and soaps less effective. This means that you spend more time cleaning that buildup, and more money on the cleaners that you use to get rid of it.

What are the Effects of Hard Water on the Body?

Some say that hard water doesn’t pose any health threats, but others have said that regularly drinking hard water can have some significant risks. Too much calcium has been shown to cause kidney stones, and can also cause plaque to form in the arteries.

This plaque has been linked to cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, and strokes. While the amounts of calcium found in hard water have not been proven to have the same effects as constantly consuming too much calcium from other sources, in areas where the levels of this mineral can be exceedingly high, it can be a consideration.

One of the more proven effects of hard water on the body is the effect it has on those with sensitive skin or eczema. Since hard water can cause soaps and shampoos to sit on the skin and hair, it is very common to develop dry skin, and for those with eczema to have flare-ups or struggle with the condition more often when constantly exposed to hard water.

How to Test Water Hardness

How to Test Water Hardness

There are many different ways to test water hardness. Often, we don’t decide to take the next step until we’ve begun to notice visually that there might be a problem. When doing a visual test, you’re basically just noticing a lot of buildup on your water fixtures and appliances.

This is often a good way to decide if you should go through and get a hard water test, but it’s not definitive, and won’t help you to decide what measures you should take to help soften your water.

Soap Test

This is a way that you can test for hard water on your own. You’ll need a clear plastic water bottle or other clear bottle or jar with a lid. Fill your container with about eight to 10 ounces of water straight from your tap. Add about 10 drops of liquid dish soap – not to be confused with dishwasher detergent – and shake well for about 10 seconds.

If you find that the suds come up quickly and the water beneath is fairly clear, you likely have relatively soft water. Conversely, if you see that your suds are weak and the water beneath is cloudy, you probably have hard water.

Hard Water Test Kit

If you want to take your testing a step further, you can order a home hard water test kit that is easy to use and understand. This will give you some solid numbers to work with, and is often the next step should you find that your soap and visual tests indicate your water is hard.

You can buy these at hardware stores or online, and many options are not very expensive. Just be sure to read the instructions fully before you get started, as it is possible to contaminate your results.

Get Your City Numbers

If you have city water, you can call your water company and request a report of the water that goes to your home. This will likely list the hardness numbers of your water, but also include the levels of contaminants in your water source. This might be a more budget-friendly method, and since it’s usually tested at least once a year, the numbers should be fresh and accurate. 

The beautiful thing is that you should be able to get one of these reports for free, and it should be fairly easy to understand. In some cases, you may be able to visit your water company’s website and find the report without even having to make a phone call.

You will want to pay special attention to the numbers of calcium carbonate in your water, as this is the mineral that makes up the bulk of the deposits in pipes and waterlines, but is also what reacts with soap and cleansers.

Lab Testing

You can also take a sample of your water and have it sent to a lab. This is an especially good idea when you’re planning to call a professional to help you remedy your hard water problem. Often, having a lab test will give you exact hardness levels so you can choose the treatment option that is best for your budget and home.

Not only is this type of water hardness test the most accurate, but it will also likely give you a breakdown of many of the other contaminants in your water, which can be good if you’re considering a total home purification system or something more complex.

How to Test Water Hardness

How Is Hard Water Measured?

There are numbers to help determine how hard water is, and if you should seek treatment for hard water in your home.

– 0 to 60 mg/L (milligrams per Litre) of calcium carbonate = soft water

– 61 to 120 mg/L of calcium carbonate = moderately hard

– 121 to 180 mg/L of calcium carbonate = hard

– Over 180 mg/L of calcium carbonate = very hard

Why Should You Test for Hard Water?

If you notice that there seems to be a film on your hair, skin, sink, showerheads, and faucets, you might want to consider a water hardness test. While the problem might not be significant to your eye, it can often become an issue quickly when it comes to things like your water heater. 

Also, if you’re thinking of looking into one of the ways to treat your hard water, you’re going to want to know how severe the issue so you can choose the right method for your home and budget.

People with extremely hard water might find that they need a different type of water treatment system than those who only have moderately hard water.

A Hard Water Test can Change All Aspects of Your Home

Who would think that a simple water hardness test could change so many aspects of your home? I found out the wrong way, by having to buy a new water heater when it shouldn’t have been an issue for years. Solving the issue of hard water has changed my whole home. It’s saving me money on cleaning supplies, plumbing maintenance, and increasing the longevity of all my appliances.

Not only that, but I’ve noticed that dry skin is a thing of the past, and clean hair is finally the norm in my home.

If you think you might have hard water in your home, don’t wait as I did. Take the time to do one, or a few tests, and contact a professional that can help you to enjoy clear, clean, soft water. No matter what your budget, you can take care of your home and yourself by eliminating the hard water that flows through your pipes.

The H2Home Lab team is dedicated to helping you find the best solutions to your specific water needs, as well as provide troubleshooting tips and guides for water filtration, heating, softening and plumbing. We hope you will find the info you need on our site from any one of our buying guides or subject matter articles.

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