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Can water really be hard? While this is not possible in the literal sense of the word, water hardness is a quality of water which is actually determined by the amounts of mineral that are dissolved in it. Two of the most common minerals responsible for water hardness are calcium and magnesium. If either of these two is found in high concentrations, the water is said to be hard.

Magnesium and calcium enter the water supply through sedimentary rocks such as limestone which are dissolved into the river system. Hard water makes it difficult to make lather for washing and causes accumulation of minerals on water pipes and water fixtures. The hardness of water is measured in grains per gallon (GPG).

How to Measure the Hardness of Water?

There are several ways you can test the hardness of the water that is coursing through your plumbing system, taps, and the water fixtures at your house. Once you’ve encountered symptoms that indicate that you may be facing a hard water problem, the next step is to find out for sure and ascertain the hardness level so remedial steps can be taken as soon as possible. But just for a quick reminder, hard water problem will most likely manifest in the following ways:

  • Soap that won’t lather
  • Dry skin
  • White crust accumulation around faucets, shower beds, and drains
  • Spotty, hazy dishes
  • Difficult-to-clean showers and tubs

If you notice any of these symptoms, a water hardness test will be the first logical test to assess just how bad the problem actually is.

Confirm with Your Water Supplier

Most water suppliers provide a consumer confidence report on drinking water quality on the 1st of July each year. This comprehensive report provides the source of your water supply and what’s in it, along with information on the hardness of the water being supplied. If your supplier doesn’t include the information on the hardness of water, you can always give them a call and they should be able to tell you everything that you need to know about the hardness of your water.

Testing at Home

If you would like to test the water hardness yourself, you can do that in a few simple steps. The best part is that you won’t even require any special equipment for this one. All you need is a clean, clear, empty bottle, some liquid soap, some tap water, and a cap for the bottle.

Pour in a few drops of pure liquid soap in that bottle, fill one third of it with tap water, and then shake it thoroughly. If there is a marked absence of foam and fluff that would’ve otherwise appeared in the water, and if the water appears to be milky and chalky, it goes to suggest that the water is hard. Normal water, on the other hand, would have formed plenty of bubbles and the water resting at the bottom of the bubbles would have been clear, not chalky. Also, do remember that most soap is designed to lather regardless of the water hardness as it is made using detergents as an active ingredient. Therefore, it is best to use a basic soap which does not contain detergents, dyes, or other substances that could affect results.

Advanced Testing Methods

The in-home water bottle and soap test may work to give you a basic idea, but it may not be the most conclusive to determine the hardness level of the water. You might require a more elaborate and sophisticated procedure for a precise assessment of the hardness of the water. There are hard water assessment kits available in the market that will do just that for you. They come in the form of either water hardness test tablets, or as water hardness test strips. They are readily available at your local improvement stores and can be purchased for $5-$10.

A hard water test kit would include test strips or tablets along with a color chart depending on the option you choose to go with. Using these kits, you can assess the hardness level of your water with just a few steps. Simply start by filling a glass with tap water from your kitchen or bathroom, put the testing strip in the water, and leave the strip in the glass for a while.

After filling a glass with cold water from your bathroom sink, insert the test strip for a number of seconds before taking it out. Also, be sure to not introduce the strip into running water from the tap as it could interfere with the accuracy of the results. The strip will have changed color by the time you take it out. Once you’ve taken the strip out of the water, compare it to the color chart that came with the kit.

Each color shown on the chart represents a certain level of hardness of water measured in grains per gallon (gpg).A classic test strip kit will provide measures of hardness between 0 and 59 grains per gallon. A similar procedure goes for the hard water test tablets as well. They come with a test water bottle which is to be filled to a specified amount before you put the tablet in it. After a while, when the water changes color, you use the color chart to tell what level of hardness the water corresponds to.

All in all, being aware of the water profile can help you decide on the best course to take to tackle your water woes. If there are any other water or plumbing related issues that you might be facing, you can always acquire our dedicated plumbing services and our professionals will take care of all your water issues.

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