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How to Tell If You Have Hard Water in Your Home (And What to Do About It if You Do)


Many people are very careful regarding the quality of water they consume. That’s probably a contributing factor to the 12.8 billion gallons of sales volume for bottled water in 2016.

However, you most likely use water for countless things in your home, and you may be one of the many people who doesn’t mind drinking tap water. This means you need to pay attention to the quality of your water supply.

A common problem in many homes is the presence of hard water. You’ve probably heard the term but may not know what it is.

If you’re concerned about your water supply, keeping reading. We’re going to show you how to tell if you have hard water and what can be done about it.

What Exactly is Hard Water?

Hard water refers to water containing a higher amount of minerals. This happens as a result of groundwater picking up magnesium and calcium deposits.

There’s also a possibility of other minerals including iron and aluminum in hard water, but only trace amounts.

It’s important to note that magnesium and calcium usually aren’t bad for you when consumed, but hard water can have other frustrating side-effects. In fact, it could result in skin issues and can affect your home appliances.

How to Tell if You Have Hard Water

Because there’s usually no change in the appearance of hard water, you have to look for other signs. These signs may be all around you, even in your clothes. You just never realized water was causing these problems.

Let’s go over some common signs of hard water.

Your Water Smells and Tastes Strange

The first thing you should look for is an odd taste or any unusual odors. You may need to perform a taste test.

If you notice a metallic flavor, it’s possible you have hard water. This metallic flavor could be a result of excess iron or magnesium.

You may also notice your water tastes a bit like dirt. If this is the case, it’s possible you have small amounts of sediment in your water or that your pipes are too old.


As far as odors go, you’re looking for a rotten egg smell. This is an indication of magnesium which is reacting to bacteria, thus forming sulfides.

Look for White Deposits

The minerals in hard water can cause a buildup of white material, sometimes called white scale. Look for this in sinks, bathtubs, and showers.

If you notice white, chalky deposits in these areas, there’s a good chance it exists in your pipes as well. Unfortunately, over time this could lead to clogs and even start to affect the water pressure in your shower.

If gone untreated for too long, these deposits can decrease the overall lifespan of your plumbing.

Examine Your Glassware

Another of the many hard water symptoms can actually be found on your glasses and coffee mugs.

These are the same deposits found in your sink and shower. They’ll be chalky and white and usually appear after you’ve washed and dried your dishes, either by hand or in the dishwasher. These deposits are unsightly, especially if you plan on having guests over for dinner.

However, these stains aren’t causing any real damage to your dishes. You can get them off with vinegar or baking soda, but that’s only a temporary solution. As long as you have hard water, they’ll keep coming back.

Laundry Issues

That’s right. You can actually find hard water symptoms in your laundry.

If you notice your clothes aren’t as clean as they should be after washing, this is a good indication of hard water. Bright colored clothes may look dull and whites could have a yellow shade.

Another indication is rough and itchy fabric. You also may notice that your clothes seem to get worn out faster than normal.

Once again, this is all due to the minerals in hard water. They’re causing some of the detergent to remain on your clothes, even after the rinse cycle. This can actually cause dirt buildup on your laundry.

A short-term solution is to use warmer water. There’s also detergent available that contains water softening agents.


Your Shower Experience Suffers

If the hard water in your home has a higher concentration of minerals, you’ll notice the effects when you shower.

You may notice itchy and irritated skin. Another side-effect is stiff hair that lacks volume.

If you notice a soapy residue on your skin after you shower, it’s because the hard water isn’t rinsing your skin properly. This is the same thing that’s happening to your clothes during a wash cycle.

How to Deal with Hard Water

If you’ve noticed these signs of hard water, it’s time to put a stop to it.

The first thing you need to do is confirm the presence of minerals with a test. Hard water test strips are available and very easy to use.

You’ll just need to dip the test strip into a sample of the water and watch for a certain color. A color guide will come with the test strip which will tell you the level of hardness.

Once you’ve confirmed you have hard water, the best solution is a water softener system. These mechanisms act as filtration systems and remove those unwanted minerals. The most important thing is that you find the best rated water softener possible.

You can find a wide variety of softeners with different features. Some have the ability to add a very small amount of sodium to your water. Others filter out everything.

Find Hard Water and Eliminate It

It’s amazing that the minerals contained in hard water can cause so many problems. Fortunately, once you know how to tell if you have hard water, the solution to your problem is pretty easy.

If you want the best quality water for your home and family, invest in a water softener and the side-effects discussed above should disappear in no time.

For more articles about making renovations and improvements to your home, check out our blog today.