The NSF tells us that most households today have hard water to some degree.  But how do you know if your home is in that majority?  More importantly, how do you know if your water is hard enough to warrant a water softener?

First, let’s consider a few questions to help you determine if you might have hard water or not:

Can you create a soapy lather?  The calcium and magnesium prevalent in hard water tends to suppress the lathery capabilities of soaps and shampoos.  If you feel you are using too much soap for too little results you might have a hard water problem.

Do your dishes and glasses come out of the wash with unsightly water spots?  Calcium and magnesium tend to form a film on dishes that remains even after the water is evaporated.  If you find yourself struggling with terrible water spots all over your clean dishes you may have problems with hard water.

Does your shower seem to be constantly overrun by soap scum and other unpleasant deposits?  The same minerals that cause your soap not to lather also cause it to linger in your tub.  And just like your dishes, your tub is a great place for hard water to leave its deposits.  If your shower seems to be overrun by white (and we’re not talking a good clean white) then you might have a hard water problem.

If these questions have led you to believe that you have hard water problems, it is time for the next step: determining if you need a water softener.  Check with your water utility company for a recent water report.  If the water in your area is reported as having a hardness greater than 6 or 7 gpg (grains per gallon) or 100-120 ppm (parts per million) then you should consider getting a water softener.