When there’s too much of the same mineral in water, it’s referred to as hard water. Usually, these minerals are calcium, iron, magnesium, and copper. When they are present in water in high quantities, they can create noticeable issues. Here are some top symptoms that indicate you may be dealing with hard water in your home.
When combined with any type of soap, hard water creates a scum that’s hard to miss. You’ll notice the residue in your shower, tub, and sinks. It has a white or chalky appearance and is created through a chemical reaction between the soap and the mineral ions in hard water.
Typically, you’ll find you’ll need to add more soap, dishwashing liquid, or detergent when cleaning or washing items with hard water. Additionally, the scum forms quickly but is hard to wash off and looks unpleasant. In contrast, soft water does not leave any soap scum.
Hard water can also affect the health of your skin, hair, and nails. It causes brittle nails and dry skin. If your self-care routine hasn’t really changed then water hardness might be the problem. If you want to be certain that hard water is behind your dry skin problem, you can try the handwashing test.
It’s a simple test that involves washing your hands as normal and checking if your hand feels particularly dry afterward. Hard water leaves a layer of soap and minerals behind, so you’ll feel the need to apply lotion or oil.
Besides your nails and skin, your hair will start looking dull due to the layer of minerals that form on your hair follicles. This layer also causes your hair to become dry, which is made worse by the fact that moisturizers can no longer penetrate your follicles.
Hard water won’t only affect your skin, but you’ll also notice its effects on your dishes and appliances. For instance, you may notice whitish spots that ruin the clean appearance of your dishes after you take them out of the dishwasher.
Again, these annoying spots are created by hard water droplets that react with the soap and stick to your dishes. They are tough to remove and particularly noticeable on glassware where they form an opaque film that’s not aesthetically pleasing.
With time, you’ll find that hard water deposits will build up on every appliance that uses water. These deposits are called limescale and are very hard to remove. They will only completely come off if you use a mild acid, such as vinegar or lemon juice. For instance, if the nozzles of your shower head have openings that are slowly closing off, you can soak them in an acid solution for an hour or so.
However, a more effective and permanent solution to removing limescale is to use soft water and call in a plumber to fix the damage that’s already been done. Otherwise, your dishwasher and other appliances can wear out more quickly because of the buildup of sediment. The quality of your laundry can also suffer over time since fabric softener only works up to a point.
We all know that water is tasteless and has no smell, but hard water tends to have an unpleasant taste and smell. The metallic taste means that mineral ions are present in large quantities. Sometimes, hard water can even smell like rotten eggs if magnesium ions react with bacteria in the water. If you detect such a smell, then it’s time to take action and find out exactly what is in your water and what you can do about it.
If there’s hard water in your area, then chances are you’ll hear other homeowners complaining about the same problems you’re facing. Maybe you have all hired a plumber to solve problems caused by limescale build-up. It’s normal for hard water to be a common occurrence in some areas.
The above tips for detecting hard water can be a bit speculative. The only way to know for sure is a water hardness test. If you want to DIY, you can buy a hard water kit with test strips and a color chart that shows the level of hardness in your water. These are cheap, but don’t give a lot of detail.
For the best results, you can send a water sample to a reputable third-party lab. They will carry out a comprehensive water analysis and provide you with a detailed water profile.
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