What You Need to Know About Hard Water

Chances are that you have experienced the irritating results of having hard water, dull hair, spotted glasses, faucets with a white crust, the list goes on. Let’s look at some of the good and the bad of having hard water and living with it.

A United States geological survey was completed and found that nearly 85% of the country has hard water. What makes the water hard? Is hard water harmful? What can be done to soften the water?

What Is Hard Water?

Now that you have determined whether or not you have hard water, you may be wondering exactly what it is. When water falls from the sky as rain, it is free of minerals and is “soft.” When the rain water passes through the rocks, soil, and sand the water picks up minerals. Hard water is water that has a high amount of mineral salts, especially magnesium ions and calcium. The hardness of water is measured by grains per gallon. The degree of hardness will range from one to more than ten. Typically, hard water is not unsafe.


How To Determine If You Have Hard Water

While there are some common signs that show that you have hard water, it will take a bit of work to determine just how hard the water in your home is. If you are served by a municipal water company you can call the city office and ask for their test results.

If you have a private supplier for your water you will need to test the water yourself. There are some areas where the county health department will provide testing. If your health department does not offer this service you can have the water tested using a water conditioning company or a water testing laboratory. You can ask your utility company or the state health department for the names of independent testing laboratories that are available. You can also purchase a water testing kit online that will include a mail in sample kit.

What Is The Problem With Hard Water?

While other minerals are present in hard water, it is the magnesium and calcium that create issues. When these minerals are heated they precipitate out of the water and will encrust themselves onto other items as mineral deposits or “scale.” This can create problems with the performance of many household appliances such as clothes washers, dishwashers, water heaters, pipes, etc. Detergents and soaps will not lather as well in hard water. This typically results with a person using more detergent or soap, which results in a scum or filmy residue.

What Are Some Problems Caused By Hard Water?

There are several issues that can arise because of hard water. Some of the problems you may experience if you have hard water include:

• Hard water can affect the taste of the water and such drinks as coffee and tea
• The harsh minerals found in hard water can reduce the life of your clothing
• Less suds from soap and detergent can leave your clothes looking dingy and grey
• Dishes and glasses may have a white film or spots even after they are cleaned
• Hard water can reduce the amount of water flow
• It can clog pipes
• Scale and film can accumulate on your tiles as well as your kitchen and bath fixtures
• A soapy film left on your skin after showering or bathing can leave your skin feeling dry
• Can cause your hair to look limp and dull from an excess of shampoo residue
• Hard water can leave scales inside your hot water heater and thus shorten its life
• An increase in your utility bills because of the accumulated scales inside the water heater. These scales are a poor heat conductor, which means that there is more energy needed in order to heat the water.

h-1Should You Install a Water Softener?

One of the questions that many people have is whether or not they should install a water softener. Water softeners can take care of your hard water problem. However, there are some things that you should consider before choosing the right water softener for your home.

How Much Does a Water Softener Cost?

The first thing to consider is the cost of a water softener. Water softeners will increase the amount of water that is used. Consumer reports state that there are between fifteen to twenty more gallons used for every thousand gallons of soft water that are processed. Additionally, you might see a higher electric bill for the cost of running the water softening unit.

While the initial cost might be higher, you also have to consider the amount of money that you will save by installing a water softener. If you are running your dishwasher several times in order to get the dishes cleaned, you will save money on your water bill by installing a softener. Additionally, you will use less detergent and soap as softer water allows for more suds to appear.

What Are Some Ways to Lessen Hard Water Problems?

There are several things that you can do in order to lessen the issues that arise from having hard water in the home. Using a rinse agent or some distilled vinegar in your dishwasher in order to help remove spots and white film. You can also reduce the temperature of your hot water heater as well.

Most laundry detergents will provide you with instructions on how to use their detergent with hard water. Follow these instructions for cleaner clothes.

Running vinegar through your coffee pot every once in a while can improve the taste of your coffee.

Flushing your hot water heater from time to time by following the manufacturer’s instructions can be beneficial as well.

While all of these things can help you with your hard water problem, typically the best answer for difficult hard water problems will be to install a water softener in the home as it will immediately fix any issues that hard water can cause.


Helpful Links:


Converter For Hardness Of Water

°dH (German degree of hardness, 10 mg CaO/l)
°TH (French degree of hardness, 10 mg CaCO3/l)
°e (English degree of hardness, grain CaCO3/gal(UK))
ppm (mg CaCO3/l)
mmol/l (millimol per litre)
mval/l (millival per litre)
gr/gal(US) (grain CaCO3/gal(US))
mg CaO/l
mg CaCO3/l
mg Ca2+/l


The results have been rounded to

significant digits.

Usage: Type the value to convert into the field, behind which you find the unit. Click on any empty space in the window or on the “calculate” button. Read the result in the other fields. Use the “reset” button to reset your calculation.

What You Need to Know About Hard Water
Article Name
What You Need to Know About Hard Water
Frequently asked questions about hard water. Learn what causes it and how to stop it.