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What Is Hard Water & How To Test For It?


Minerals are always present in water. However, there are locations where the concentration of specific minerals is higher in density. Debates among scientists are still ongoing on the safety of hard water for drinking and daily use. But local water utilities across Australia (specifically Melbourne Water) have always assured locals that water from their plants has undergone several filtration processes to ensure it is safe for consumption.

The plumbing system is one of the most affected by hard water. It causes limestone and mineral deposit buildup in showerheads, pipes and taps. When it starts affecting this system, it can cause clogging, contribute to leaking, blocked drains and other frustrating  plumbing issues. Here at The Local Plumber Melbourne, our passionate emergency plumbers are available 24/7 to help when this happens. We have proudly been one of Melbourne’s leading emergency plumber for over 20 years as we have a strong commitment to high-quality installations and repairs available in any Melbourne plumbing suburb!

What Is Hard Water & How Is It Different?

Hard water refers to water with a high mineral content ranging from 120 to 200 milligram per litre (mg/L). This concentration is not at an alarming level as it is natural for water to have minerals. As water moves through rocks, it accumulates dissolved minerals. However, hard water usually comes with higher levels of calcium and magnesium.

Hard water is also water in its natural state. When the area is rich in hard water, the buildup of limescale and mineral deposits is common in showerheads and faucets. It also presents itself when calcium deposits form while boiling water in kettles and coffee machines.

Is It Safe to Drink Hard Water?

In short, the majority of major Australian cities (e.g Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane etc) have extremely safe tap water to drink. However, experts are still discussing whether or not hard water provides a significant contribution to human’s daily recommended intake of vitamins and minerals. As mentioned above, hard water is water in its purest form. Water hardness pertains to the mineral content of the water. It does not equate to the safety of such water for human consumption. 

The quality of drinking water across Melbourne is still heavily regulated to ensure the health of every citizen. The Australian Drinking Water Guidelines mandates that drinking water undergoes treatment using the highest standard to be deemed safe for consumption. In Melbourne, drinking tap water rationed across the metro comes from the protected catchments of Yarra Ranges, forested areas in national parks and state forests. 

Does Hard Water Exist in Australia?

Yes, hard water exists in some places in Australia. Adelaide and Brisbane are named as among those with the highest hard water density level in the country. Water mineral concentration in these places can reach nearly 100 mg/L. On a state level, Western Australia and South Australia have some of the hardest water. 

Testing Hard Water 

The following signs confirm that the area where the house or commercial building is located is rich in hard water:

  • Spotty dishes
  • Difficulty in rising detergent out of clothes
  • Dry or irritating skin
  • Strange stains
  • Funny water taste or smell
  • Clogged pipes due to mineral buildup
  • Clogged showerheads
  • Appliances quickly wearing out
  • Soap scum
  • High energy bill

While the above mentioned indicators may be present, it does not automatically confirm water hardness. It is still best to have the water undergo scientific processes to validate hard water in the area. The good news is there is an easy-to-do process for homeowners to confirm this themselves. Filling a bottle one-third full is the first step in this test. Next, add a few drops of pure liquid soap and shake vigorously for a few seconds. Hard water is confirmed if there is a distinct lack of fluffy bubbles and the water appears to be cloudy or milky.

For those who want to double-check water hardness in their area, checking the local water utility’s drinking water quality report, either by mail or online notification, is a common way  to validate such information. These advisories usually indicate where the water supply comes from, the minerals it contains and in certain advisories, water hardness.

How to Treat Hard Water?

If the drinking water advisory states that hard water will be supplied, homeowners and businesses have the option to soften their water. Using a Water Softener is the most common approach for this situation. It is a water filtration system that removes the hard water minerals from the water. This system uses a bed of resin to trap the calcium and magnesium usually abundant in hard water. Once the hard minerals are removed, it is replaced with sodium ions. 

Another option is to use a water conditioner. This method differs significantly from softening hard water as it changes the makeup of minerals instead of removing hard minerals from the water. This option is best for those who worry about buying and refilling the water system with salt after water softening. It also saves water as it does not require water to undergo a regeneration process. As it does not soften the water, homeowners and businesses must be aware that could not remove the following side effects of hard water:

  • Mineral spotting on dishes
  • Using less soap while doing the laundry or dishwasher
  • Yellowing clothes
  • Skin irritation

Melbourne’s Leading Local Maintenance Plumbers!

Whether it is hard water or soft water, our fellow Melbourne locals can get the most out of their investment with regular maintenance. The best way to have it maintained is with the help of an experienced and qualified plumbing service professional. With over 25 years in business, our 24hr emergency plumbers have seen all plumbing issues in homes and commercial spaces. Our team has the most experienced and skilled plumbing professionals in town. All have met the requirements set by the Plumbing Regulations Act 2018 and hold a licence from the Victorian Building Authority. Their skills and our same-day service guarantee have been ensuring locals across Melbourne can get an expert within minutes after they ask for help. We offera wide range of plumbing services, including blocked drain repair, hot water system installation and repair and gas fitting. Contact The Local Plumber now to have the preferred emergency plumber in Melbourne install or fix plumbing appliances and systems on your property today!

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