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What We Call Water in Our Homes Is Much More Complex Than It Seems
The simple chemical for water is H2O, for a combination of hydrogen and oxygen. What comes out of your taps is a lot more than H2O, because its origins and the path it travels to get to you add many other substances. Some of these “extras” in your water are relatively harmless, even desirable, similar to the minerals you find in bottled water. Others should be reduced as much as possible by a water filtration system because they can affect your health and your plumbing, sometimes seriously.
Sometimes, Lab Testing of Water Uncovers More Than You’d Expect
In a few cases, people have had their water tested and uncovered public health problems. The 1998 movie “A Civil Action” covered the contamination of a water source in a suburb of Boston with trichloroethylene, an industrial solvent. While this case was unique, your public water supply isn’t always the best quality, especially after its journey through ancient pipes. Well water’s origins can be questionable as well. Lab testing of your water will make clear what’s really in the water you drink. If problems are found, a water filtration system may be your first step in addressing the problem.
Origins of Public Water
Public water supplies flow from a variety of sources including underground aquifers, rivers, and reservoirs, and include water transfers from other districts. This means that the quality of the water source can vary significantly, depending on the elements and contamination present. Public water systems use water filtration system components that handle the large volume of water they supply. In most cases, they must meet national standards for water quality and issue alerts when their own testing indicates potential problems.
Why Well Water Isn’t as Pure as You Might Think
Well water quality can vary depending on the natural filtration system that processes the water as it filters from the surface down through layers of soil, gravel, and other materials up to several hundred feet. If there are issues with the materials through which surface water travels on its way down, the well water may be contaminated with industrial or natural chemicals in the soil. The homeowner or group of water users is responsible for any water filtration system used to ensure that the well water is of consistent and sufficient quality.
Reasons for Getting Your Water Tested
The EPA lists numerous indicators for homeowners to have their water tested, from gastrointestinal conditions among residents that might indicate bacteria in the water, to local agricultural or mineral extraction activities, industrial facilities nearby, and even failure of shampoo to produce a lather. Public agencies may help with some testing, but they are looking for very limited issues.
The Water Testing Process
To get a clear picture of what’s in your water, a report from an analytical laboratory can be helpful. They take a few bottles of your water as part of their testing kit, and produce an extensive report that covers the common and not-so-common contaminants that you might be concerned about, along with EPA standards for comparison. Many labs will help you understand the less-common contaminants and their significance, and your plumber can also help you understand the numbers and how they reflect the quality of the water you drink. If your results indicate the need for pipe changes in your home, for instance lead pipe contamination, or if they reflect potential problems in your neighborhood water supply, they can help you prepare a plan for mitigation. One solution a plumber can help with is to take charge of your own water quality with a whole-house water filtration system or, in some cases, a localized water filtration system for installation under the sink in the kitchen or bathrooms.
Water for drinking, cooking, and bathing should be treated to remove industrial compounds such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can cause health or environmental damage, biological contaminants such as bacteria, especially from sewage, and naturally occurring contaminants such as arsenic, mercury, chromium, and cyanide.
Somewhat Desirable Contaminants
If your water naturally contains appropriate amounts of elements such as calcium, iodine, zinc, iron, and magnesium, this can be a plus. In fact, many famous bottled water brands contain a selection of these minerals. Too much of some of them can create “hard” or “soft” water, in which case a water filtration system may be needed.
A water filtration system in the home handles a much lower volume of water than public supplies do, so it can employ filtration techniques that provide purer water and remove more and smaller contaminants. If you are using well water, your filtration system can also help with water quality problems that produce undesirable effects on water taste, pipe and fixture corrosion, and the effectiveness of your cleaning products. These problems often occur due to natural minerals that the water combines with on the way to the aquifer, producing “hard” or “soft” water and undesirable pH (acid/base) values.
When Your Own Plumbing Is a Problem
Lead is a major concern in home plumbing, both from lead pipes and also from copper pipes that have been joined with lead-based solder. Other concerns can arise from older pipes that are leaching materials into the water, especially your hot water lines. Your plumber can help you identify problems and determine whether re-piping or adding a water filtration system is a better solution for you and your family.
Count on bluefrog Plumbing + Drain to Help You Improve Your Water Quality
At bluefrog Plumbing + Drain, we can help you turn testing numbers into better water with a water filtration system that suits your situation. We can also help with piping issues and other contributing factors within your home and, of course, we’re your 24-hour general plumber ready to make your life easier and healthier. Call us when you need quick drain and leak help or make an appointment at your convenience, we’re looking forward to meeting you.