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It’s easy to take clean tap water for granted, but as the Flint, Michigan, water crisis has proven, that’s not always the case. If you’re thinking about having a plumber install a filtration system, you may already be concerned about the quality, clarity, or composition of your drinking water. Whether you have a well or rely on a public utility provider, a point-of-use or whole-house water purifier can make a big difference in the taste and healthfulness of your tap water while providing a host of other benefits.
What’s in Your Tap Water?
Pure water contains just two ingredients: hydrogen and oxygen. In the natural world, water is enriched by a variety of minerals and metals. Some of these compounds improve the flavor of your drinking water as in the case with mineral water from underground springs. However, many organic and industrial contaminants have a detrimental effect on your water quality. Some of the most common issues include excessive hardness, cloudiness, discoloration and off-flavors or unpleasant odors.
In the United States, public utilities are governed by the Safe Drinking Water Act, and many states have their own regulations. These rules require utilities to test their water and publish annual reports. However, while your drinking water may be considered safe, it’s not necessarily free from contaminants. When analysts at the Environmental Working Group reviewed 20 million water samples from 20,000 utility districts, they found more than 300 contaminants, including nearly 100 carcinogens, endocrine disruptors and chemicals linked to serious health risks. Many of these chemicals effect the taste and smell of your tap water.
- High sodium content can make your drinking water taste salty or brackish.
- Metals, such as copper, iron, manganese and zinc, can give your water a metallic taste.
- Detergents and surfactants are responsible for oily, fishy and fragrant flavors and smells.
- Hydrogen sulfide and mercaptans are associated with gas-like rotten-egg odors.
- Decaying vegetation and algae can give your water a musty or earthy taste and odor.
- Agricultural contaminants, such as nitrate, affect your health, but they are odorless and tasteless.
- Total dissolved solids can make your tap water appear cloudy or murky.
- Chloroform and disinfection byproducts may give your water a strong chlorine-like flavor.
Benefits of Installing a Water Purification System
Filtration systems improve the taste, clarity and overall quality of your water by removing particulates as well as undesirable organic and inorganic compounds. Professionally installed filtration systems recommended by a licensed plumber can provide a variety of benefits across your home.
- Descaling systems can improve the efficiency and longevity of your water heater, dishwasher and appliances.
- Filtered water is ideal for cooking whether you’re brewing coffee, baking bread or boiling pasta.
- Filters that remove hard water minerals can make your skin and hair feel softer and smoother.
- Treated water reduces limescale and water spots for easier cleanup in the kitchen and bath.
- Water purification systems can enhance the performance of detergents to make your dishes sparkle and help your clothes come out soft and fresh.
- Balanced water quality can extend the life of your pipes and result in fewer calls to the plumber.
Types of Water Purifiers and Filters
If you want a reliable source of quality tap water for cooking and drinking, your plumber may suggest a point-of-use model that’s installed on your countertop or under the sink. If you’re interested in minimizing hard water buildup, protecting your appliances and experiencing benefits across your home, a high-capacity whole-house system might be a better choice.
- Portable water filters and pitchers are a popular introductory option for consumers who are interested in adopting healthy lifestyle habits. They’re ideal for filtering small amounts of tap water for drinking, but their limited capacity makes them impractical for cooking and other applications.
- Point-of use filters are typically installed under the counter or attached to a fixture, such as a kitchen faucet or showerhead. These systems are ideal for drinking water, cooking and bathing. The point-of-use water filters that our plumbers install are typically rated for 10,000 gallons or more.
- Whole-house water purifiers are the most comprehensive solution. These long-lasting systems are rated for up to 10 years or 1 million gallons. Your plumber can connect the system to your main supply line where it can treat all of the water coming into your home.
Residential Water Treatment Technology
Plumbers today can install a variety of filtration systems designed to address general water quality concerns or remove specific contaminants. Most specialized filters use multistage technology to remove large particulates as well as chemicals and odors. Here are a few of the most common options.
- Activated carbon is one of the most common and versatile filtration materials. It removes lead, chlorine byproducts and chemicals to improve the taste and quality of your water. Carbon is used in pitchers, fixture-mounted filters, under-sink models and whole-house water purification systems.
- Reverse osmosis is the gold standard for water purification. This membrane-based technology only allows pure hydrogen and oxygen atoms to pass through. All other minerals, particulates and chemicals are removed. Additionally, many systems will re-mineralize your water to improve the flavor and restore healthful minerals.
- Ion exchange water purifiers charge incoming particles, including iron, copper and hard water minerals, which forces them to bond with a polymer resin filter. Electrode-ionization systems are ideal for preventing limescale, which can protect your plumbing lines and extend the life of your water-using appliances.
Consulting bluefrog Plumbing + Drain
The best water purification system depends on the quality of your utility supply, your goals and your budget. A professional water test can give a more complete picture of your home’s water quality. You may also want to consult a plumber to ensure that these issues aren’t originating within your pipes, appliances or plumbing system.
To learn more about residential water filters or to request a professional water test, contact the bluefrog Plumbing + Drain location nearest you. Our licensed plumbers can help you select the ideal water purifier for your home.