Each American uses around 82 gallons of water per day. To put this into context, that’s the equivalent of 656 pint-sized glasses of water.
However, not all water is the same, and your home may be using hard or soft water depending on where you live. As hard water can cause many issues with your plumbing system and appliances, it’s a good idea to learn how to tell if this is the type of water that’s flowing through your pipes.
To get you up to speed, we’re going to find out what hard water is, and how you can find out if this is what you’re using in your home.
Get comfortable while we find out more.
What Is Hard Water?
Simply put, hard water contains a high amount of calcium and magnesium. These minerals can dissolve into water as it flows through the ground, and they then enter your property in your water supply.
Calcium and magnesium can be good for you, as the human body needs these nutrients, but they can cause significant damage in the home.
What Are the Signs of Hard Water?
You can’t tell the difference between hard water and soft water just by looking at them. But there are numerous signs that you’ll see if you are using hard water for an extended period.
You Notice Soap Scum in the Sink
One of the most noticeable indications of hard water is stains in your sink. This will look like a chalky white residue that forms on the surface, and at first, it will be easy to wash off. You may even think it’s caused by dust coming off your hands or the type of soap you’re using.
However, over time the deposits will become thicker and harder to clean.
Your Dishes Have Spotty Marks
Just as residue sticks to your sink, it can also attach to your dishes and glassware, making them look dirty. You may also notice that the inside of your dishwasher doesn’t look as clean as it usually does.
Unfortunately, hard water doesn’t only affect the look of your appliances, it can also lower their performance levels and even cause them to break down.
You might first become aware of this when valves begin to wear away more quickly than expected on your dishwasher or washing machine. If you replace these parts without addressing the cause, the problem is only likely to get worse and quickly recur.
Rather than putting an appliance developing a fault down to wear and tear, investigate if hard water has been responsible for the issue.
Your Laundry Feels Rough
Another difference between hard water vs. soft water is that hard water can make your laundry feel rough. This happens when mineral deposits remain in your clothes, giving them a coarse texture that can be unpleasant to touch.
You could also notice that your clothing begins to lose its brightness and looks dull. This may appear as gray marks or a grimy residue, leading to you having to buy new clothes sooner than expected.
Strange Tasting Tap Water
If your tap water tastes or smells unusual, this may indicate you have an issue with hard water. You may find your drink has a metallic flavor, or that it tastes chalky or dirty. There could also be an unusual and unpleasant smell that puts you off taking a drink of water.
Even though minerals such as calcium and magnesium in hard water are beneficial, you’re unlikely to drink much tap water if the taste and smell are unappealing.
When you wash in hard water, it can leave a residue or greasy film on your skin. This can dry your skin out and make it feel itchy, making you uncomfortable throughout the day. Hard water can also lead to your pores becoming blocked, which could aggravate skin conditions such as eczema.
In addition, when you wash your hair in hard water, it may lose its sheen and look lifeless. The good news is that you can use daily water filters to remove harmful minerals from your water supply to help resolve these problems.
A Drop in Water Pressure
If your water pressure is lower than usual, hard water could be the culprit. High water mineral content can result in calcium and magnesium sticking to the sides of your pipes, leading to clogging. Consequently, when you turn on your taps or appliances, the water won’t be able to reach them as efficiently.
Using a filter can help should your water pressure drop.
Increased Energy Bills
An often overlooked problem caused by hard water is an increase in your energy bills. When excess minerals begin to affect the performance of your boiler and water heater, these appliances will have to work harder to achieve the same results. You might not be aware of this issue until your next energy bill arrives and shocks you.
Look Out for These Telltale Hard Water Signs
Once you know you have hard water going through your pipes, you can take action to prevent it from causing damage. Seeing residue on the surfaces of your sink and dishwasher can be a giveaway, and you could notice your laundry begins to look dull.
Having itchy skin could also indicate that you’re using hard water to wash, and you may find your energy bills are higher than usual.
If you’ve found this hard water post helpful, be sure to read more excellent tips on our site before you go.