Common Water Problem Assessment
Water quality can no longer be taken for granted. Here in Spokane, WA, a variety of factors can affect how your water tastes, smells, feels and works in and around your home. Well water quality, possible contamination, an aging water distribution system, violations of federal drinking water standards, and a home’s plumbing are examples of things that can affect a home’s water supply. Some common water problems may not be as obvious as others. That’s why it’s imperative we test your water to determine if water treatment is necessary and which option is right for you.
Common Water Problems: City Water
Municipal water suppliers are required to provide clear, bacteria-free water with levels of elements, heavy metals, and nitrates considered healthy by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). However, there still may be heavy metals and naturally occurring contaminants in your tap water below the MCL (Maximum Contaminant Levels).
Common water problems:
- Chlorine that is needed to protect you from bacteria can be removed once the water has entered your home.
- Allowable levels of contaminants that are below the MCL still having a negative impact on water quality.
- Hard water causing destruction to pipes, appliances, laundry, and skin.
Common Water Problems: Well Water
Private wells have common water problems that range from simple concerns like the presence of hard water to complex issues such as having two or three forms of iron to address.
Here are some of the most common well water concerns, all of which we offer treatments for.
Common water problems:
- Iron: causes staining and plugged pipes, along with damaging appliances, clothing, and hair.
- Acidic water: causes corrosion to pipes and appliances.
- Hard water: causes scale buildup on fixtures, hot water tanks, and appliances.
- Hydrogen sulfur: causing a “rotten egg” smell.
- Water contamination: causes health concerns arising from human-induced contaminates, or other naturally occurring elements.
- Bacteria: present in surface water, well water, or water collected in water reservoirs.
- Tannins: tannins are decaying organic vegetation that cause discolored and poor-tasting water.
- Turbidity: cloudy or murky water caused by clay, dirt, sand, or silt.
Lake & Surface Water
Surface water includes lakes, rivers, streams, and any uncovered water source.
Surface water problems range from simple concerns such as wondering if the water is safe to drink to complex issues such as proper filtration of contaminates.
Here are some of the most common water problems, all of which we offer treatments for:
- Acidic water
- Poor smelling and tasting water
- Water contamination ranging from exposure to runoff to naturally occurring contaminates
- Tannins: tannins are decaying organic vegetation causing discolored and poor-tasting water
- Turbidity: caused by clay, dirt, sand, or silt
Common Water Problems: Hard Water
Hard water contains dissolved calcium, magnesium and in many cases, iron. Most homes have hard water, whether it is supplied by a private well or a municipality. In many cases, homeowners don’t realize they have hard water or the constant and expensive harm it causes.
Dry skin and hair, bathtub ring, spots on glass, silverware and fixtures, dull, dingy clothing, disappointing performance and a shortened life expectancy of water-using appliances are all problems frequently caused by hard water.
Common Water Problems: Cloudy Water
Cloudy, murky or grayish water is usually caused by dissolved or suspended solids. This is also known as “turbidity.” Water can become turbid naturally or from land disturbances such as construction, storms and urban runoff.
Well water and surface water with visible turbidity, in most cases, can be filtered out by cartridge or mechanical filtration. However, some solids are smaller than one micron, and specialty filtration is required.
The turbidity of your water can range from low to high. But even if your water looks clear, it could still contain a high level of dissolved solids. That’s why, whether your water is turbid or not, we recommend you have it tested.
Water Problems: Chlorine Taste & Smell
Since the 1850s, chlorine has been used as a disinfectant to kill harmful bacteria in water itself or the pipes that transport it. Although it has helped end a number of major threats to public health and is essential at the treatment plant and in the water distribution system, it is no longer necessary once the water reaches your home.
Though chlorine is vital for stopping the spread of disease, its benefits come at a price. Chlorine tastes and smells bad. It dries skin and hair, fades clothes (bleach is made of chlorine), and can dry out the rubber seals in appliances, shortening their lives.
Removing chlorine is simple and easy with a whole-house dechlorinator, which can last from 2-10 years.
Tastes & Odors
In its pristine state, water is colorless, tasteless and odorless. So, one common water problem is if your water tastes or smells funny.
- Earthy or musty taste and odor: These types of complaints are generally the result of compounds released due to decayed vegetation and are typically associated with different forms of algae. While not toxic, they are nonetheless unpleasant and can be offensive at very low concentrations.
- “Rotten egg” smell: Another common source of smelly water is hydrogen sulfide. Hydrogen sulfide is a colorless corrosive gas which has the characteristic odor of rotten eggs. If present in high enough concentrations, it can leave an unpleasant odor on hair and clothing. It can also accelerate corrosion of metal parts in appliances. An iron filter is most commonly used to solve this problem.
- Metallic taste: As the name implies, a metallic taste to your water indicates the presence of metals such as iron, copper, manganese or zinc. Iron and manganese are often naturally occurring and are predominately found in groundwater. Copper and zinc can come from an aging water distribution system or the corrosion of copper plumbing and brass fittings.
Water Problems: Iron & Magnesium Staining
Water is a natural solvent and given the needed time and conditions, it will dissolve anything it comes in contact with. That’s why, depending on where you live, your water can contain iron or manganese which can cause rusty-orange or black staining. You’ll see the stains on clothes, fixtures, sinks, tubs, water-using appliances and toilets.
Another common water problem is if water has a low pH, you can see the tell-tale, blue-green stains. These stains are most noticeable on white surfaces that your water comes in contact with such as sinks, tubs and showers, toilets, and even white clothing. More importantly, the corrosive water will thin copper tubing to the point of pin holes occurring, resulting in structural damage and increased risk of flooding. Strategies for combating this depend on the severity of the corrosive water.
Water Problems: Bacteria & Viruses
Bacteria comes in many forms, including coliform bacteria and more concerning forms such as E. Coli and cryptosporidium. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there could be as many as 12 million cases of waterborne acute gastrointestinal illness annually in the United States alone. These illnesses are frequently caused by bacteria, viruses, and protozoa that make their way into the water supply. Even well operated, state-of-the-art treatment plants cannot ensure that drinking water is entirely free of microbial pathogens.
The most common form of bacteria treatment is ultraviolet light installation, which simply kills the bacteria.