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The quality of water going into your home, and its source, can have a significant impact on the condition of your house’s plumbing, the longevity of your bathroom porcelain and appliances, and your overall health. Depending on the quality of the water, you may choose to invest in a specific type of water filtration system. However, understanding how to best care for your plumbing means understanding the characteristics of your home’s water.
Where Is Your Water Source?
Most people get their water from a municipal water source. Initially, the water is from lakes, rivers, or groundwater. Then, the water is piped into a water treatment facility, where bacteria and other impurities are filtered out, making it safe to drink and to clean yourself and your possessions. The water is then pumped into storage tanks, through municipal shared pipes, and eventually through individual pipes into your home.
How Does Water Enter Your Home?
Water enters your home with enough pressure to move up multiple stories and around corners. It’s important that you know where the water enters your house, in the event of a burst pipe or other emergency, so that you can shut off the main valve. If you aren’t sure where the water pipe branches off to your house or if you aren’t sure how to shut the water off, you can call your city’s water provider or a local plumbing company like bluefrog Plumbing + Drain.
Where Is the Water Shut Off Valve?
There are a few water shut-off valves to your home’s water supply. The first one is located where the water line enters the house, generally in your basement or crawl space, or on an outside wall toward the front of your house.
The second shut-off valve is located on the water meter. Shutting this off requires a pair of channel locks or a special key. This is typically done by the water company. You may also have a third water shut off valve, buried in a box in front of the water meter. If a water leak occurs outside your home, you may need to turn this one off.
Practice turning the water supply on and off a few times, so you’re prepared for an emergency.
Possible Dangers in Your Water Supply
In the northwest, lead pipes are still fairly common. Even low levels of lead in your water supply can lead to developmental delays, lower IQ, and behavior problems. [secondary option: Even low levels of lead in your water supply can lead to problems.] Older lead pipes can deteriorate and leach lead into the water. While replacing the lead pipes may be the ideal solution, it often isn’t feasible, so many cities add phosphates to the water, creating a barrier between the lead pipes and the water.
Agricultural areas may have issues with higher levels of nitrates in the water, which comes from the run-off from fertilizers. Nitrites can lead to “blue baby” syndrome, where infants under 6 months of age suffer from shortness of breath. In communities like Des Moines, IA, nitrates are removed in the water treatment plant through an ion exchange program.
Water-borne diseases can occur anywhere, however. Ozone treatment is the most common way to kill all bacteria and germs that can make you ill. However, having a water filtration system in your home can help you reduce your exposure to water-borne pathogens.
Do You Use Well Water?
Using well water can have its own challenges for water contamination and safety. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that you test well water frequently.Understanding the impact of various industries on your well water is important, too. Landfills and salvage yards, metal mining, industrial sites or wastewater treatment facilities can all contribute to a tainted well water supply.
The location of your well is important, too. Positioning it higher on a gradient is important, as is the depth to which the well is dug. Placing it too close to a septic tank, livestock is, or a leaking fuel tank can greatly increase your chances of contaminated water.
Testing Your Home’s Water Supply
Ideally, you should be able to trust your water supply, although cases like Flint, MI, demonstrate that this isn’t always the case. You should test your water once a year to ensure that it’s safe.
Plenty of contaminants can lurk in your water supply, and even though your municipal water treatment facility may remove them, doing your own testing gives you the peace of mind to know that your water is free from lead contamination or bacteria. In addition, understanding what’s in your water can help you find the right water filtration system for your home.
When you test the water supply, make sure that you note any changes over time. It’s very important that you document the nature of your water especially if you use well water, although anyone can benefit from doing this. Sometimes, outside factors can lead to poor water, like a broken well cap or an increase in nearby contaminants.
Testing your water isn’t just important for safety. You can also test your water to find common problems that, while safe for you physically, affect the odor or taste of your water. pH levels, hard water (from calcium deposits), and sulfur (smell of rotting eggs) can all make drinking water extremely unpleasant. Different water filtration systems can address certain characteristics of the water and improve the overall smell and quality.
Finding the Right Water Filtration System
bluefrog Plumbing + Drain can help you find the right water filtration system for your home. We have whole-home systems that can help reduce the smell in your house, or smaller, individual filters for a sink or refrigerator. We test your water for you, and our trusted team of experts can help guide you to the right filter and water filtration system to fit your needs and budget. Give us a call or visit us online to get started today and improve your home’s water condition!