If you’ve recently moved to Phoenix from another part of the country, you may be getting your first exposure to hard water. Perhaps your favorite soap isn’t producing suds or lather when you wash dishes or your hands. Maybe your skin and hair feels dry or grimey even after a shower, and you notice chalky deposits on your sink fixtures.
These annoying effects of hard water on your hygiene and home aren’t unusual. Though hard water poses no threat to your health, it’s an aggravating problem many homeowners throughout the country face. In fact, about 85% of the country’s water supply is hard water.
If you suspect your home has hard water, there’s an easy way to find out. First, let’s look at what hard water is and why it matters.
The Problem With Hard Water
Water hardness refers to the amount of tasteless, odorless minerals like calcium and magnesium that groundwater picks up when flowing over limestone and other organic materials. The majority of usable water in the U.S. and around the world is groundwater, which is why so much of our country’s water is considered hard.
The minerals found in hard water are naturally occurring and pose no risk to your health — but the same cannot be said for your plumbing. Since hard water can leave deposits on your pipes, fixtures and even on your appliances that use water, homeowners without a water softener might spend more money on fixes and repairs caused by deposit buildup.
Hard water may also result in difficulty rinsing your face and hands; flat hair; dull-colored laundry; and issues related to common skin conditions.
How to Tell If You Have Hard Water in Four Steps
Though stiff and dull laundry, dry and itchy skin and deposits left on faucets and dishware are a good indicator you have hard water, there’s a quick and easy test to determine once and for all if your home’s water is hard.
To perform the test, grab a clear plastic water bottle with a cap and clear, unscented soap and follow these steps:
1. Fill A Clear Container With Tap Water
Use a see-through container like a plastic water bottle. Fill it about two-thirds full of water from your tap.
2. Add Unscented Soap
Add about 10 drops of a pure liquid soap without dyes or perfumes into the bottle of water. Avoid using soap labeled as a detergent — detergents usually have additives that will affect the test.
3. Shake It Up
Put a cap on the container and shake it for 10 seconds to mix the soap and water. If there are plenty of suds on top and the water is clear underneath, you have soft water. If the water is cloudy and there aren’t many suds on top, your water is hard.
4. Double Check
You can add more soap to see how much it takes to get suds, which will give you a sense of how hard your water is. It’s also an indication of how much extra soap you’re adding for laundry and washing dishes.
5. Follow Up with an Expert
This test won’t give you a precise measurement for the hardness of your water. It will provide you with an indication that you should call a professional water softener provider like Clear Water Concepts for a more comprehensive test. Our team can tell you how hard your water is based on the grains per gallon (GPG) or parts per million (mg/L).
How Water Hardness Is Measured
You’ll see water hardness reported through two different scales: grains per gallon (GpG) and parts per million (PPM), which may also be represented as milligrams per liter (mg/L). Each scale indicates the mineral level in your water. The higher the number, the harder the water.
|Degree of Hardness||Grains per Gallon (GpG)||Parts per Million (or mg/L)|
Source: Water Quality Association
Beyond these measurements, the ability for your soaps and detergents to lather is a good indicator of how hard your water is. This is because the minerals in hard water creates soap curd, which limits its ability to lather or create suds.
Water Softeners and Arizona’s Hard Water
The Phoenix water supply is notorious for containing high levels of calcium and magnesium that makes water hard. About 95% of the Phoenix water supply comes from surface sources such as lakes and rivers, according to the city’s website. The tasteless and odorless minerals in the water originate from the soils the water comes into contact with as it travels to Phoenix’s water treatment plants.
According to the City of Phoenix, the city’s water falls in the “very hard” range.
|Phoenix Water||Grains per Gallon (GpG)||Parts per Million (mg/L)|
|Total Hardness (Range)||12-17||205-291|
Because the water in Phoenix contains such high levels of these minerals, it’s essential to use a high-quality water softener and materials. The hardness of Arizona’s water could impact the lifespan of your softener if you don’t perform maintenance regularly. The quality of the tanks, fittings and resin must stand up to the hard water flowing through the lines.
Get Expert Help for Your Water Softening Needs
Water softeners come in various sizes and capacities which depend on the hardness level of water in your home. To select the right system, you’ll need to find out just how hard your water actually is.
To get a free expert in-home estimate of how hard your water is, contact our team.