Hard Water 101

According to the US Geological Survey, 85% of homes in this country have some degree of hard water. Arizona is no exception, due to the composition of the soil. Hard water can be frustrating, especially for those who do not have experience with it. Despite the challenges hard water can create, including mineral build-up and water heater failure, with the right knowledge it’s easy for anyone to tackle the problem head on. Here’s a guide to help you understand what hard water is, how it can be identified, and what you can do about it.

What is hard water?

Hard water refers to water with a high mineral content. These minerals most commonly include calcium, magnesium, bicarbonates, and sulfates. The process of forming hard water begins underground. Groundwater in many areas comes in contact with limestone, where it picks up mineral deposits. When the water is routed into pipes for commercial and residential use, it maintains these mineral deposits unless it is filtered.

Water hardness is measured in GPG, or grains per gallon. This helps to evaluate the level of water hardness in a given area, and how it compares to the national average. Any value over 61 GPG is considered to be hard water. For example, research from the US Geological Survey shows that states in New England average a rating of 0-60 GPG. Central Arizona, including Phoenix, averages a rating of 61-120 GPG, indicating significantly hard water.

Signs of hard water

While hard water isn’t necessarily dangerous, it can be a hassle to deal with. Here are a few key signs that your home has hard water. If you’re still not sure if you have hard water or not, we can visit your home for a filtration assessment to accurately evaluate your water.

Water heater failure

Over time, the heating element in your water system can fail due to the mineral buildup that results from hard water. If you often turn on your faucets to find that you don’t have any hot water, no matter how many times you repair or replace your heater, hard water is likely to blame. Eliminating the hard water through filtration methods will address the cause of your heater’s failure without the need for additional costly repairs.

Soap scum

Soap scum is more than just an annoyance that makes cleaning more difficult. It’s also a sign of hard water. The minerals in hard water mix with the soap you use in your shower, and leave behind a filmy white residue. Unless you address your hard water problem through filtration, soap scum will continue to form every time you use your shower.

Spots on dishes, silverware, and glass

If you notice stubborn spots on your dishes no matter how much you wash them, hard water is most likely to blame. You may also see spots on your mirrors, glass tables, and other clear surfaces. The high mineral content of hard water makes it react adversely with soap, resulting in spots left behind.

If you find that your water is too hard to clean your dishes effectively, one option is to clean them with bottled or distilled water. Otherwise, investing in a water filter for your kitchen sink can eliminate the effects of hard water.  Filters that are fitted to the sink’s faucet can be more cost effective than a filter for the entire water system, and a better option for renters who cannot modify the entire system.

Dry or itchy skin

Studies have shown that hard water can be a trigger for people who suffer from eczema or are otherwise prone to dry skin. It is believed that hard water can cause dry skin, itchy, and irritated for two main reasons. Because hard water molecules are unable to break down soap effectively, it’s harder to remove all of the soap used when bathing This results in a leftover layer of soap on the skin that can be an irritant.

Hard water also damages our skin’s natural protective barrier because of its low pH level. Our skin naturally has a pH level that is higher and more acidic, but when exposed to hard water the pH level shifts and disturbs the skin’s natural functions, including fighting bacteria.

Frizzy, dry hair

If your hair is dry, frizzy, brittle, or just hard to deal with, hard water may be to blame. The high mineral content of hard water makes it more difficult to clean your hair effectively, which can leave residue behind, potentially causing dandruff. Hard water can also make your hair feel less pliable and harder to style, and leave your hair feeling dry and brittle.

What you can do about hard water

Many of our customers come to us wondering what they can do about hard water. The good news is, there are several solutions available. Filtration systems and individual filters can soften your water quickly and efficiently. If you’re unsure which filtration method is right for the needs of you and your home, contact us. We’ll be happy to provide recommendations and answer all of your filtration questions.

Showerhead water filter

A showerhead water filter can solve the problems that come from having hard water in your bathroom. These filters can be very cost-effective, and are easy to install. If you are renting your home and cannot make changes to the plumbing system, a showerhead water filter is an ideal solution. Filters for individual faucets are also available and can be a solution for renters looking to soften the water in their home’s sinks.

Whole-home water filter

The best way to address a hard water problem is with a filtration system. That way, mineral deposits and contaminants can be removed from the all the water that enters your home, and not just the water that come from specific faucets. At Chas Roberts, we specialize in installing whole-home water filters that use the following filtration methods.

Particle filtration

Particle filtration removes traces of particles in water, including rust, sand, and clay. If you have well water, particle filtration can be helpful for removing sediments from the water.

Reverse osmosis

To improve the taste of your hard tap water, reverse osmosis is a great solution. As one of the most popular water treatments in Phoenix, reverse osmosis uses a five-stage process to produce pure and great tasting tap water.


Distillation removes minerals, metals, and microorganisms from water. The distillation process kills potentially dangerous bacteria and leaves very few contaminants behind.

Ion exchange (water softening)

Ion exchange replaces the excess calcium ions in hard water with magnesium irons, softening the water with no adverse effects. This natural process can facilitate cleaner and better tasting tap water in your home.

How Chas Roberts can help

If you want to get rid of your home’s hard water, we’re here to help. As Arizona’s leading plumbing authority, we have the skills necessary to set up a filtration system in a quick, easy, and affordable fashion. Contact us today to get started.