What Is Hardness in Water?

hard water deposits on faucet

Hardness in water can indicate high concentrations of calcium, magnesium and other undissolved minerals. In general, this includes 120-180 ppm of iron, calcium and magnesium, or at least 61 milligrams per liter or higher of calcium carbonate concentration. While magnesium and calcium are essential for our health and wellbeing, high amounts of these minerals in your tap water can cause a number of problems around your home.

Water travels a long way to get to your faucet. Depending on where it’s sourced, some households may receive harder water than others. In the United States, several areas are known for having higher concentrations of water hardness. This includes:

  • Illinois
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Indiana
  • North and South Dakota

Not sure if you have hard water? Learn how to identify the signs, what causes hard water and how to fix it.

What Are the Signs of Hard Water?

From cooking to cleaning, water is an important aspect of everyday life. While you may not feel the effects of drinking hard water, you may notice the impact it has on your home. Over time, hardness in your working water can cause damage to water-using appliances, including your washing machine, dishwasher and hot water heater, as well as fixtures and drains.

Hard water running through your pipes can affect many aspects of your daily life, including the longevity of your appliances, the softness of your skin and hair and the appearance of your fixtures. Signs of hard water in your pipes include:

  • Showers that don’t leave you feeling clean: Hard water can make it difficult for soap to lather, leaving a filmy residue on your skin and hair. Your skin may also feel sticky or dry after a shower.

  • Soap scum: When hard water evaporates, it can create calcium deposits, which may lead to unsightly soap scum on your dishes, shower doors and fixtures.

  • Buildup on fixtures and drains: Mineral deposits can clog your pipes and showerheads, which may cause plumbing issues over time.

  • More stains: Iron in your water can create red or brown stains around water-using appliances, such as your toilet bowl and faucets. So long as hard water continues to run through your pipes, these stains may persist.

  • Foul odors or tastes: Excess iron in your water can result in a metallic taste. Similarly, if magnesium and bacteria are present in your water, they may create sulfates, which can result in a rotten egg smell.

  • Ineffective cleaning: Calcium and magnesium can prevent soap from effectively cleaning objects. They can also increase soil buildup, leaving you with scratchy clothes and towels.

What Causes Hard Water?

As water travels to your tap, it can collect contaminants, particulates and sediment along the way. Tap water usually originates from a natural source, such as a river, lake or from the ground. From there, it is directed to a treatment center before reaching your home. However, the treatment center doesn’t account for all the contaminants that could be in your water. Even well water often has silt, dirt, clay and other types of sediment.

Limestone, iron, dissolved minerals and sediment found in soil can contribute to hard water. If water passes over these minerals on its journey to your home, it can create hardness in your water. The surrounding environment can play a large part in the quality of your water.

Other factors that can result in hard water are aging pipes and municipal water systems. Aging pipes are made with lead, and if water isn’t treated correctly at the treatment plant, it can leach into the water. 

How to Fix Hard Water

Is hard water making you work harder to keep your home clean? Culligan Water can help you identify how to fix hard water with a hard water test.

Targeting the source of the problem can get things back in order and improve your home life. Culligan’s water softening solutions help to reduce minerals that make your water hard. We offer a wide variety of water softeners and can help you find the one that fits your household, budget and needs.

Get your water tested to learn more about what’s in it. Based on the results, a Culligan Water Expert can offer custom recommendations based on your results. With softer water running throughout your home you’ll be able to enjoy cleaner, better-tasting water.

Culligan Satisfaction Guarantee

If you are dissatisfied with your Culligan product for any reason within 30 days of your purchase, Culligan will remove the product and refund the purchase price.

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