Water that has a high saturation of dissolved minerals is classified as hard water. Most all water has some minerals in it, but water that's heavily saturated with them can be problematic for your home appliances, your skin and your hair. If you've never looked for hard water signs, you may not know what to look for. Read more to learn some of the ways you can check around your house for signs of hard water to see if you need a water softener installed in your home.

1. Inspect Your Water Fixtures

Hard water leaves some telltale signs behind on your water fixtures. Look at the shower head for signs of a dried, white crust on the surface. That's mineral residue that's dried and stuck on the shower head. You may see similar mineral deposits on the other fixtures and faucets in the house, too.

In some cases, the mineral buildup can be significant enough that it can clog kitchen sink sprayers. Mineral residue can be apparent inside your dishwasher as well. Open the dishwasher door and look at the heating element. If the coil is smooth and black, it's free of mineral deposits. Brown or white residue on the coil is a sign of hard water and mineral deposits.

2. Consider the Soap Reaction

Look closely at your dishes when you take them out of the dishwasher. If they have any kind of haze, film or spots on the glass, that's often caused by hard water. Similarly, soap scum and residue inside your tub can be a result of hard water, too. If you have to go through a lot of conditioner to keep your hair from being dry and brittle, or your skin is constantly dry and itchy despite moisturizer, you may have hard water in your house.

3. Examine Your Clothes

Hard water will cause fiber wear, discoloration and greying to your clothes. If your bright white shirts are turning hazy and grey despite using a bleach-containing detergent, you may have hard water that's wearing out the fabric.

4. Evaluate Your Water Pressure

When you turn on faucets throughout the house and find that your water pressure is different in one zone than it is in another, it may mean that you've got mineral deposits building up in the pipes in one area of the house that's slowing the water flow. In those cases, you'll need to have the pipes flushed out as well as adding the water softener to the incoming water lines.

5. Experiment with the Water

Hard water is denser than soft water, so a paperclip placed on the surface of a cup of hard water will float. If you rest a paperclip on the surface of a cup of water and it floats, add a drop or two of dish detergent to the water. If the paperclip sinks, that's a clear sign that your water is hard.

Place some hard water into a saucer or plate. Then, cut a small triangle off of some card stock or a business card. Place the triangle on the water, and add a small drop of dish detergent to one corner of the triangle. That detergent will soften the water, pushing the triangle around in the water until it has covered the entire surface area.

If any of these assessments indicate the presence of hard water in your house, you should call a plumbing contractor or a water conditioning specialist to test the water for mineral content. Water testing is the most definitive way to know for sure how hard or soft your water is, but it's best to have some idea of the problem first, as the tests can be costly. With the tips here, you'll know what to look for to spot hard water signs throughout the house.