You've probably heard friends talk about having a water softener and how much they like the way it makes water feel silky on their skin. You may wonder if your home needs one too. A water softener doesn't remove contaminants, it only removes minerals from the water. So unless you have excess minerals, which is a condition called hard water, you won't need a water softener. Here's how to tell if you have hard water.
A Lab Test
The only way to know the exact hardness of your water is to have a lab test done. Send a sample of your water to be tested, just make sure it is tested for hardness in addition to testing for contaminants. A lab test can be costly and it takes a while to get results, but you'll get a reading of the level of hardness so you know if you have hard water and how bad it is. An alternative is to call your city water office and ask if they have recent water test reports that include hardness testing.
A Kit Test
An easier way to test for hard water is to use a test strip or kit test that you buy at a home improvement store. One method is to dip a test strip into water and match the color scale to a level of hardness. While this test isn't precise, it will tell you if you have hard water and you can get an idea of how bad it is. Your local water softener company may even test your water for free if you bring in a sample.
Home Test And Observation
You can suspect you have hard water if you see scale buildup in your shower or tub. White, crusty material around your plumbing could be from hard water deposits. You might also notice scale buildup on a glass coffee pot and your shower door, or you might see water spots on faucets. If your skin feels tight after you shower, that could be a side effect of having hard water. Your clothes might feel stiff and look dingy too.
One benefit of soft water is that it makes great lather when compared to hard water. A simple, but not very accurate test to try is done with a glass jar and some dish soap. Pour some water in the jar along with a few drops of soap and then twist on the lid. Shake the jar to see if you can create soapy bubbles. If your water is soft, there will be suds on top of the water and the water under it will be mostly clear. If your water is hard, there will be very few suds and the water may have a milky appearance from the suspended soap.
Water hardness varies by location. It depends on the geological composition of the land that supplies your water. If your neighbors have hard water, you probably do too. Talk to a professional about testing your water and if a water softener is a good idea. If you have hard water, getting a softener not only makes your skin feel softer, it also protects your pipes and appliances from scale buildup.
Contact a company like American Water Treatment to learn more.