Problems with hard water spots or rust stains?
Home Water Test Kits are available but did you know there are some basic steps you can take to find out the condition of your water without spending a penny?
Are you wondering if your water is eating up your pipes and contaminating your water with corrosion by-products?
Follow the four free fast ‘water tests’ below to get some fast insight into what the water is doing (if anything) to your pipes, fixtures, and appliances.
There are four ways you can test your water’s effects on your appliances, fixtures, and plumbing without having to spend a penny or use any special tools, or buy anything!
1. Hardness Soap Test
Calcium scale (“hardness”) costs U.S. homeowners billions of dollars each year by destroying plumbing, water heaters, fixtures, and appliances. See if your water is hard by using the simple Soap Hardness Test.
1. Use a 12 oz measuring cup or another container that you can measure 12 oz, such as a small water bottle.
2. Fill to the 12 oz line.
3. Add 10 drops of liquid dish soap and shake.
4. If you see lots of suds, your water is most likely low in calcium hardness. If you do NOT see suds, add another 10 drops.
10 Drops = 0—1 Grains Per Gallon VERY SOFT
20 Drops = 1— 4 Grains Per Gallon SLIGHTLY HARD
30 Drops = 4— 8 Grains Per Gallon MEDIUM HARD
40 Drops = 8—16 Gains Per Gallon HARD
50 Drops = 16 & Higher Grains Per Gallon VERY HARD
2. Kitchen Faucet Aerator Test
Minerals and sediment can build up in your fixtures and appliances. Check your kitchen faucet aerator and treat with vinegar to see how your water is affecting your fixtures.
- The aerator is at the end of the faucet, where the water pours out.
- This has a small screen which traps debris.
- Remove aerator on your kitchen faucet by unscrewing it by hand or using small pliers.
- Be careful not to scratch the aerator.
- Place aerator in a bowl of white vinegar for one hour. The white vinegar will dissolve and remove hardness build-up and allow you to inspect what is left in the bowl after cleaning.
- Clean and rinse and re-install aerator.
- If your bowl of vinegar has mineral deposits and sediment in it, you can know that these same minerals are clogging other fixtures such as toilets and dishwasher.
3. Water Heater Flush Test
Water heaters can collect sediment and hardness and are easy to drain. Use this simple and fast test to see if your water heater is filling up with sediment or minerals.
1. Connect the drain valve to a garden hose (drain valves on water heaters typically are ‘hose bibs’ meaning they can connect to a garden hose.
2. Turn on the drain valve at the bottom of the water heater and allow water to flush into a 5-gallon bucket or another container.
3. This serves as a visual water test for sediment and minerals that your home appliances are exposed to, and also can indicate the condition of the water heater.
4. The water should appear clean and clear and free of sediment.
5. If you see flakes or sand or grit, this can be an indication your water heater’s anode rod has deteriorated, and/or the glass lining of your water heater is going bad.
4. Toilet Flush Tank Inspection Test
The Toilet Flush Tank Test is an effective, easy and free way to quickly see what your water may be deposited in your pipes and
Keep in mind that the toilet flush tank has clean water from your cold water pipes.
The flush tank holds the clean water that is used to flush the toilet, and it is like having a mini settling storage tank right in your home.
The water goes in the flush tank, is exposed to air, and leaves sediment, rust, corrosion by-products from the pipes (assuming there is any in your plumbing).
If the tank is white and clean, then it can be a good indication your pipes are in good condition.
Toilet flush tanks rarely get cleaned and you can often determine a lot of what is going on with your water by simply by looking here.
If you have a new low-flow toilet with air tank inside your flush tank, then this test won’t work for you.
My wife thinks I’m a nut, but I have a habit of looking into almost every toilet flush tank I come across.
In hotels, friend’s and family homes and other places I come across that have removable flush tank lids, I just take a quick look inside. It’s fascinating to see what’s inside and I often add an image or two to my ‘toilet flush tank’ photo collection!
The most serious condition I see is when the toilet flush tank has blue or greenish blue stains. This means copper corrosion, and this type of problem should be addressed immediately as it means your copper pipe is corroding and leaching heavy metals into your water.
The new ultra-low-flow toilet flush tanks make this type of inspection a little less useful, as the air bladder apparatus partially obstructs the view of the flush tank. Eventually, as the standard flush tank toilets get replaced with the new ultra-low-flow flush with air bladders inside, you won’t be able to see as much, but it still doesn’t hurt to look.