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10 Ways to Test Your Home’s Water Hardness

10 Ways to Test Your Home's Water Hardness

Congratulations on purchasing your new house! It’s now time to figure out everything wrong with it, and the best place to start is the type of water you have. It’s easy to suppose that all water is the same, but that is not the case, and here are many ways to help you find out how to test for hard water at home.

What Is Hard Water?

Water hardness has a lot to do with the minerals we find in the water. Hard water is measured by the accumulation of magnesium and calcium present.

When these minerals are heavily accumulated in the water, it is challenging to wash things. When you mix soap with water, it creates solids, so you get soap scum.

It now requires you to use more soap to get any lather, creating wastefulness and a burden on the budget. The word ‘hard water’ is derived because it is not easy to wash things with concentrated minerals.

What Are The Signs Of Hard Water?

If you want to know whether you have hard water or not, there are many signs to look for around the house. The areas that can help you locate hard water are mostly the bathroom and kitchen. Let’s look at some of the main signs you can check for.

Stains and Mineral Deposits

If you look around the tub and sinks, you can see orange stains. These are obtained from the minerals concentrated in the water and signify you have hard water.

Sink faucets and showerheads with white buildup

Sink faucets and showerheads with white buildup are also signs of hard water. The bubble will not come off with a swipe of a sponge and has put itself down into the crevices of the faucet. This is another sign of minerals found in your water.

Higher Electricity Bill

When you have hard water, your appliances will use more of it. Hard Water requires up to 29% more energy from the water heater, according to energy.gov.

Testing your Home’s Water Hardness

Let’s look at some tests that will give you an idea of how to accurately test hard water at home.

Test 1: The Soap Method

When minerals in difficult water come into contact with soap, a chemical reaction stops the soap from foaming.

When you notice this, one easy way to test water hardness is to foam your skin up with soap. Soft water will provide plenty of bubbles; hard water will cause the soap to stick to your skin, creating more film than a soapy lather.

Use Castille soap for accuracy with this procedure; other soaps have chemical lather in any water.

Test 2: Hard Water Kit

The Castille soap method is excellent for knowing if your water is hard. If you’re asking yourself how to measure water hardness precisely, your best bet is to use a kit. These can be bought cheaply at most home improvement stores.

While exact testing ways vary from kit to kit, you’ll mostly need to run water over the device. It will give a reading that informs you of the mineral accumulation in your water.

Interpret a Hard Water Test

The right way of measurement for water hardness is grains per gallon (gpg). Problems start to arise at concentrations of 3 gpg. In some places like Arizona, water hardness ranges between 12 and 17 gpg. If you notice anything above 15 gpg, that’s considered severe hard water.

Test 3: Conduct a Visual Check

Another way to tell if your water is hard is to visually scrutinize everything it comes into contact with. Examine your sinks, bathtubs, kitchenware, plates, and so on. Hard water leaves an unmistakable crusty scale on faucets and dishes.

Test 4: Refer to Municipal Numbers

Most municipalities like North America release a yearly report detailing their hard water test results. Results from your current city will give you a clear idea of what you should expect regarding the water hardness in your home.

You’ll still need to know how to check hard water in your home specifically, and the local numbers provided will give you a good baseline understanding.

Test 5: Water Heater Flush Test

Water heaters can gather sediment and hardness and are easy to drain. Use this fast yet straightforward test to see if your water heater fills with sediment or minerals.

Test 6: Get the Professionals to Help You

Local water softener technicians are more than happy to stop by your home and test for water hardness. Instead of selling you expensive water softening equipment, they can prioritize educating and helping you understand the best solution.

Test 7: Hard Water Measurement Scale

After you collect test strips, the chart can be a little confusing. Hard Water is shown in “grains” per gallon (gpg) or parts per million (ppm).

Degrees of Water Hardness

  • Soft water – 0-17.1 mg/L of minerals
  • Slightly Hard Water – 16.1-60 mg/L of minerals
  • Moderately Hard Water – 61-120 mg/L of minerals
  • Hard Water – 121-180 mg/L of minerals
  • Very Hard Water – will show more than 180 mg/L of minerals.

Test 8: DIY Test for Water Hardness

Do a visual test by spotting these things in water;

  • When you have spots on your dishes.
  • Have a white ring on your pots when you’re done boiling water
  • When you use a lot of soap to get a lather
  • When soap scum builds up so fast in the tub and shower
  • When there’s is a visible white buildup on faucets and showerhead

Test 9: Kitchen Faucet Aerator Test

Kitchen sink aerator test minerals and sediment can show up in your fixtures and appliances. You need to check your kitchen faucet aerator and treat it with vinegar to notice how your water affects your institutions.

In case you don’t know the aerator, it’s at the end of the faucet, where the water pours out.

It has a small screen that traps debris. You can remove the aerator on your kitchen faucet by unscrewing it by hand or using small pliers.

The caution is that you should be very careful not to scratch the aerator. If your bowl of vinegar has got mineral deposits and sediment in it, you will know that the minerals are clogging other fixtures such as toilets and dishwashers.

Test 10: Toilet Flush Tank Inspection Test

The Toilet Flush Tank Test is a quick, easy, and free way to find out what your water does in your pipes and appliances. Remember that the toilet flush tank has clean water from your cold water pipes.

The water goes through the flush tank and is exposed to air. The water may leave sediment, rust, or corrosion by-products from the pipes (assuming any in your plumbing).


You now know how to test for hard water at home with the test above. The tests range from simple (matching for proper soap lathering) to more complicated (specialized kits).

Regardless of which method you prefer, knowing how to test for hard water at home is the first step in ensuring safe, clean, and pure water for your family. Check out this guide for how to install a water softener in your home.

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