But it’s not uncommon to wonder why your water smells bad, or tastes weird, or leaves stains on your fixtures or laundry. You may even question if it’s making you sick.
If your home’s drinking water is problematic, the answer to getting great water from every tap in the house relies on identifying your specific issues and installing the right water filtration system.
Untreated issues from water contaminants can damage your plumbing and fixtures, stain your laundry, dull your hair and skin, and even make you sick or have long-term health issues.
The impact of water contamination
Even though the United States has one of the safest drinking water supplies in the world, protecting our water sources is an ongoing challenge. While municipal water treatment facilities have been treating and disinfecting city water supplies for over a century now, drinking water can still become contaminated. The treatment process itself can give water the taste or odor of chlorine, or result in the creation of unhealthy byproducts.
If you’re one of the 43 million people using private well water, you’re responsible for monitoring your water quality and the treatment of common issues. Failure to address problems can affect both your health and your home’s value.
The list of potential pollutants and contaminants threatening our water supplies continues to grow, while the technology to remove them struggles to keep up.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates drinking water quality in public water systems, with recommendations for maximum level for contaminants. If you are on city water, you have access to an annual consumer confidence report (CCR), which gives an accounting of your municipal treatment center’s actions to restore safe drinking water over the past year, summarizes your risk of contamination, and lists the potential health effects.
How to test for water contaminants
Find your CCR
While your CCR can tell you about the water in your community, it can’t give you a full and accurate picture of the water as it enters your home.
Whether you’re on municipal water or a private well, a water test is the only way to determine exactly what is lurking in your water, so that you can choose the most effective water treatment for your needs.
How to Test Your Water Quality
Tier1® Rapid Water Lab Test Analysis
After you’ve identified the contaminants in your water, you can choose the most effective treatment solution. If you have more than one issue, you can build a water treatment system to address all of your needs.
Solutions for common contaminants
Hard water contains high amounts of dissolved minerals such as calcium and magnesium. While not considered a health hazard, hard water can leave scale on your appliances, build up mineral deposits in plumbing, make laundry feel stiff and rough, and leave your skin and hair dull and lifeless.
A traditional salt-based water softener is recommended for well water. If you’re on municipal water, you can also consider a salt-free water conditioner to remove scale.
Successful treatment of your water issues will depend on both the level of hardness, and if there are other contaminants present in the water such as iron.
Tier1 Water Softeners
Tier1 Salt-Free Water Conditioners
Read more about hard water
If the water coming out of your tap is yellowish or red, or you see yellow, red or brown staining on your fixtures or laundry, you may have iron in your water. Visible stains appear at levels as low as 0.3 parts per million. Iron may give your water a metallic taste, and can turn tea, coffee and potatoes black. Black stains may also be a sign of Manganese. Both are often present in well water.
Iron and Manganese
In order to effectively treat the issue, you’ll need to verify both the type and level of the contaminant in your water with a water test. Treatment options range from replaceable cartridge filters for your water supply, to whole house softeners or backwashing filters.
Expert Water Analysis with Tier1 Rapid Water Lab Test Analysis
Read more about iron in your water
Municipal water sources rely on Chlorine treatment to keep your water disease-free. But an overabundance of residual left by the time it reaches your water supply is not only unappealing, but unhealthy at levels above the EPA maximum of 4 ppm.
If you are only concerned about the bleachy taste and odor, you could treat the problem at the tap with a replaceable point of use filter.
- Faucet Filters
- Refrigerator Filters
- Pitcher Filters
- Countertop Filters
- Undersink Filters
- Shower Filters
If you want to eliminate the taste and odor from all the water in your home, you can install a filtration system at the point of entry of the water to your home.
Nitrate is a compound that occurs naturally, and also has man-made sources. The most common groundwater contamination is from fertilizers and other agricultural runoff. Levels above 10 mg/L are considered unsafe. High levels of nitrate can affect how blood carries oxygen and cause methemoglobinemia (also known as blue-baby syndrome.) Bottle-fed infants under six months old are at the most risk. Adults may also be at risk of health issues.
Because nitrates in drinking water are colorless, odorless, and tasteless, a water test is the only way to detect them.
The typical treatment for nitrates in your water is the installation of a Reverse Osmosis System
Read more about Nitrates and Nitrites
High sulfate levels can give water a bitter or medicinal taste and can have laxative effects as well as be corrosive to plumbing. Sulfates can be reduced with a Reverse Osmosis System.
High levels of sulfate in well water can cause hydrogen sulfide by the action of sulfate-reducing bacteria. The smell of rotten eggs is a telltale sign of the presence of hydrogen sulfide or sulfur bacteria in your water.
You’ll need to identify whether the source of the smell is the water supply or your plumbing, so you’re sure to treat the actual cause of the issue. Treatments may range from flushing your drains, to replaceable cartridge filters, or whole home filtration system.
Read more about sulfur in your water
Arsenic is found in many groundwater sources, including every state in the U.S. While trace amounts are found in many foods naturally, the EPA maximum standard for drinking water is .010 ppm. You can install a Reverse Osmosis System to reduce the arsenic in your water.
Reverse Osmosis System
Because it’s impossible to test for all organisms, the detection of Total Coliform serves as indicator bacteria for how sanitary your water system is. If Total Coliform shows up in your water sample, surface contamination has somehow entered the water, and you’re at risk for disease-causing organisms.
It’s recommended that you test well water every year for bacteria. For year-round protection, you can install a water filtration system with Ultraviolet (UV) Disinfection to deactivate the bacteria right as it enters your home.
Read more about Microorganisms
If your tap water seems cloudy, or has particles that settle on the bottom after you let it sit a while, you likely have a problem with turbidity, or suspended sediment. High sediment can be related to the presence of oxidized metals in the water, microbial life, or pollutants. Total Dissolved Solids, or TDS, are the dissolved minerals you can’t see in your water.
Turbidity and Total Dissolved Solids (TDS)
Treating Turbidity may be as easy as adding a sediment pre-filter to your water filtration system, or may require a UV system if it’s microbial. High levels of TDS can be treated with a Reverse Osmosis System.
Read more about Sediment Filtration
If your test finds copper in your water, or your pH test is below normal range, you may have acidic water. A pH level of 7 is considered “neutral”. The acceptable range for pH in water systems is 6.5 to 8.5. Low pH water is corrosive, which can lead to copper, lead, and other metals from pipes, fixtures and appliances leaching into your water. It’s also very hard on your digestive system, which can lead to health issues. In order to raise the pH of acidic water, install a whole house water neutralizing system.
Tier1 Whole House Water Neutralizing System