Water quality problems range across a broad spectrum including sediment, formation of scale, heavy metal contamination, harmful microorganisms, pH imbalances, foul odors and even discolorations. Left unchecked, these can lead to health problems, increased energy usage and damage to pipes or appliances. Fortunately, there are a wide range of solutions to whatever problems you might be experiencing with the water in your home including basic pitcher filters for drinking water to in-line water softening for your water heater.
Before selecting a solution to the particular problem you’re experiencing, it’s particularly important that you have your water tested to determine the root cause. Some solutions may be more effective than others for specific problems.
Odors: A common problem experienced by homeowners who get their water from a well is foul odors produced by bacteria or commonly-occurring elements such as sulfur and iron in the bedrock the water originated from. Depending on the specific cause of the odor, this can be corrected through a variety of options including water softening to remove minerals, reverse osmosis that filters out contaminants or oxidation and disinfection to inhibit bacterial activity.
Microorganisms: While bacteria and other microorganisms in your water aren’t necessarily a cause for concern – there are strains of bacteria and viral pathogens present in water supplies due to contamination of groundwater that can pose a health risk. Solutions for microorganism removal include chlorination of the water or utilizing a UV system that takes advantage of the natural anti-microbial properties of ultraviolet radiation to provide safe, clean water.
pH Imbalance: Water that is overly acidic or alkaline can cause a variety of problems for homeowners – the most notable of which is corrosion of copper pipes and the associated blue-green staining that can occur on pipes or fixtures, but long-term health effects resulting from ingestion of copper can also be a concern. Ways to treat the problem include calcite filtering to neutralize the pH of the water or phosphate injection systems which help protect against copper corrosion and staining.
Hard Water: A large portion of homes in the United States have hard water to one degree or another, which can cause problems ranging from unsightly build-up of minerals on fixtures to clogged pipes. Hard water can typically be treated via water softener systems, which are intended to reduce the amount of calcium and magnesium responsible for causing “lime scale” build-up, utilizing various methods including physical filtration.
Radiation: Radiation in your water supply doesn’t necessarily have any association with living near a nuclear facility – it can be caused if the water passes through naturally radioactive bedrock or comes into contact with radon gas in the ground. While there is no one sure-fire way to remove radioactivity from your water – various solutions include reverse osmosis or ion-exchange water softening to remove particles and aeration of the water to remove gas.
Heavy Metals: A variety of heavy metals in your water supply such as mercury and arsenic can lead to health problems over the long-term if not addressed. Options for removing heavy metals include reverse osmosis filtration of the water and filtration that removes fine particles or bonding with other elements present in the water such as iron, followed by filtration.
Home improvement and healthy living are just two of the topics John Kramer writes about for US Water Systems.