How to Check Water Hardness and Water Softener Tips Video


This video from Sears PartsDirect shows how to check whether your tap water is hard or soft. If your water seems too hard even though you have a water softener installed, you can try this simple test to see if your water softener has a problem. We’ll also walk you through a few troubleshooting tips to get your water softener working correctly.


For additional water softener repair help, check out our DIY Water Softener Repair section for repair guides, articles, videos, answers to the most frequently asked questions and troubleshooting tips.

Tools and Parts Needed

  • 2 clear plastic containers with lids
  • Measuring cup
  • Felt-tip marker
  • Liquid dishwashing soap
  • Water softener salt (if necessary)

Conduct a Water Hardness Test

Hi, this is Wayne with Sears PartsDirect with a tip on how to check your water softener. Maybe you've noticed that the dishes aren't coming out as clean as they used to. Well, before you condemn that dishwasher, let's run a little test.

Take two containers with lids. Pour two cups of water into each container, and draw a line at the water level. Be sure to label which is which. Now, pour that water out and let's get started.

Fill one container up to the mark with cold, softened water from your kitchen sink tap. Now, let's go outside for some hard water. Fill your second container to the mark with water from the hose or any other outside faucet that doesn't supply soft water.

Add a couple of drops of liquid dishwashing soap to each container. Put the lids on the containers, tight. Now shake these babies up real good. Now, take a look at your containers.

The soft water container should have more suds than the hard water container. Somewhere around an inch or so is normal for soft water. 

Troubleshooting for No Soft Water

If you’re not seeing any suds in your soft water sample, here are a few simple things to check.

First, make sure that your water softener is plugged in and powered up. This may seem pretty obvious, but if you’re like me, you’ve tripped a circuit breaker a time or two….or three…or four.

Second, make sure your water softener has a good supply of salt. Salt doesn’t last forever.

And third, make sure the bypass valve is not set to bypass the water softener.

If none of those simple fixes work for you, the most common problem is a plugged venturi. You can clean the venturi, do a manual recharge and recheck your water hardness. This video will show you how to access that part and replace it if necessary.

How to Determine Exact Water Hardness

Now, if you need to know the exact grains of hardness in your water, you can take a sample into most local Sears stores and they will test it for you right there.

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