What Types Of Water Are Suitable For Consumption?

The age-old question regarding the water sources that are safe and respect the quality standards deeming them suitable for human consumption is still up for debate nowadays. Advocates of public tap water clash with the supporters of privately drilled well. At the same time, there are those who maintain that purified and distilled water constitute the best options. There are, of course, arguments pertaining to each choice. The following guide aims to provide readers with the necessary details required to make an educated choice.

Where does most of the water come from?

At global scale, studies estimate that approximately 30% of the fresh water sources consist of underground streams. Lakes and rivers contain the rest of the fresh water, but it can’t always be safely or inexpensively harvested, filtered and purified. In the United States, public and privately owned water sources are, in an overwhelming 78%, underground streams. Evidently, the remaining 22% of the US’ reserves are the lakes and rivers. So, where does the dispute stem from? The method of extraction and government bodies regulating and upholding the standards of purity.

Tap water

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Flowing from the reservoirs of the municipal water sources and down the pipelines into people’s homes, the quality of the tap water is regulated by the EPA. After passing through the centralized filters and being treated with chemicals considered safe by the government, the pipes hooking up your faucets, heaters, toilets, dishwashers and other appliances deliver it into your house.

While the municipal water supply supporters argue that it’s the safest one to drink because it’s up to code with the EPA standards, in reality the city managers are the ones who decide how often the water delivery and filtration infrastructure is checked and undergoes maintenance.

Well water

It has been said that privately drilled wells are not as safe as the municipal water infrastructure because there is currently no regulatory body testing the purity of the streams. However, it is safe to assume that homeowners who prefer to tap into the local water resources for one reason or another (lower running costs, municipal infrastructure is out of reach, concerns regarding the public water supply, etc.) also ensure that the water is fit for consumption.

This operation involve working with a professional well company, drilling the well according to building codes, installing filtration devices and hooking up the pipelines to home appliances correctly. In spite of the fact that the authorities are not required to verify the purity levels of the private well, it is in the best interest of the homeowner to uphold the quality standards and perform maintenance when it is required.

Purified or distilled water (bottled)

The purification processes pertaining to bottled water imply the removal of all pathogens, chemicals and minerals present in the water. Practices employed deionization, carbon filtrations and/or even reversed osmosis for this purpose. The resulting fluid is considerably purer and high above the requirements instituted by the EPA in this sense, but there is also a downside: minerals are also eliminated from the contents. Considering that drinking water also has the role of ensuring that our daily intake of minerals is on par with the body’s needs, the purification process taken to this extent doesn’t make the water better for you.

What Should You Ask Before Selecting A Water Filter For The Entire House?

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Well water filtration systems come in two categories: whole house and point of entry. The key distinction between them is that the former system involves a single filter installed before the water pipeline diverges to the outlets in your house, whereas the latter features individual filters for every single dispenser.

Opting for a single filter placed at the Point of Entry (POE) entails the water entering your home is already purified. The direct benefit is that the indoor pipeline’s lifespan increases, as the chemicals and minerals can no longer deposit along their span. However, the durability and efficiency of a POE is in direct correlation with selecting one that’s a appropriate for your home. Let’s find out what you need to find out in order to make an informed decision.

What contaminants are prevalent in your water source?

Before you start considering different brands, it’s important to determine the nature of the contaminants that require filtration. For instance, if the water feed comes from the municipal services, then your POE filter should be designed to stop mainly chlorine, chemical residue and hard minerals. Alternatively, when the inline is hooked to a water well, you’ll require a filter that can deal with sediments, harder minerals and iron.

Remember that correctly determining the quantity of contaminants present in the water supply is also important. Establishing whether the contaminant level is low, intermediate or toxic implies taking samples and performing tests on them. Working with a professional retailer who doesn’t just want to sell you the most expensive filtering system is the best way to ensure that the water supply in your household is 100% purified.

What is your household’s combined water flow rate?

Flow rates, measured in gallons per minute (GPM), constitute the quantity of water streaming through each outlet and appliance in the household. This includes the bathtub/shower, faucets, the water heater, toilets, the dishwasher, etc. Selecting a filter that can supply a sufficient water flow to ensure all these dispensers can run simultaneous at consistent rates will prevent issues like low water pressure and extend the lifetime.

Ideally, you should check the information provided by the manufacturer of each appliance. When that is not possible because you are no longer in possession of the documentation, remember that showers typically require between 2.5 GPM and 5 GPM, dishwashers need approximately 5 GPM on average and standard toilets call for 3-4 GPM. The added GPM of the appliances constitutes the necessary flow rate of the water purification filter.

Does the filter you intend to buy have NSF Certification?

Always check if the filter you intend to buy presents the NSF seal of approval. The NSF Certificate represents a guarantee that the materials and craftsmanship are up to code with the modern standards in the field of water filtration systems. Irrespective of whether or not you have chosen a water purification filter designed for the specific contaminants in your water supply and with the correct GPM/dimensions, the NSF Certification is the best way to ensure that you should not experience issues throughout its expected lifetime.

Selecting The Optimal Location For The Well

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Purchasing property in order to erect a home in an area that is not connected to the central water supply presents you with a unique problem: determining where the well should be drilled. Running water constitutes a commodity that you can’t do without or, at the very least, its absence will pose numerous issues in the long run.

Your property and water sources

Constructing the building in the proximity of the well is recommended. Otherwise, you will be faced with major investments in the pipeline infrastructure and high maintenance costs. But the question remains: how do you determine the top drilling location, one that provides access to a substantial water supply without employing the trial and error methodology? After all, randomly drilling wells is not only tremendously expensive, but also risky and damaging to the landscape. You might end up drilling several wells without actually reaching water.

What are your options?

As it happens, you have several options when it comes to making an educated decision on the ideal location of the water well:

• Hiring dowsers

Experts have yet to reach a consensus on whether or not there is scientific basis to the process of locating water supplies using wishbone-like branches (typically willow) and “reading” the vibrations through the stick. However, there have been several documented cases of success. If you don’t mind the lack of technical evidence that could explain why the tip of the stick is drawn downwards whenever a water supply is near, you can always hire a dowser.

• Investigating vegetation

As a rule of thumb, plants with broader leaves tend to prefer locations that are rich in underground water. If you notice that certain sections of your property contain an abundance of plant life featuring broad leaves, then it is safe to assume an underground spring runs in its proximity.

• Using the topographical specifications

Landscape depressions – typically a valley or a gap – constitute superior drilling locations compared to the spots with a higher altitude. When you drill on a hilltop, for example, you will have to go much deeper to tap into the water supply. The closer you are to ground level, the less drilling will be required, and the lower expenses you’ll have to dish out for the operation.

• Searching for potential water springs

There’s no better indicator that the ground is saturated with water than the presence of an aboveground spring. Furthermore, springs can also confer a general idea regarding the direction and source of the water flowing underneath your property. A sizable stream might even be harvested as-is, eliminating the need to drill.

• Conducting a geographical survey

Geographical surveys provide important clues regarding the underground water. A skilled geologist relies on various soil/rock formations to determine the probability of finding a water supply. For instance, the existence of stress-caused fractures in the bedrock could indicate a stream running underneath it, causing erosion.

Additional considerations

It’s advisable to drill the water well according to the local business codes, in order to avoid legal issues. Planning the positioning of the sewage/septic lines in such a way that they don’t intersect with the water feed ensures that your supply does not get contaminated in case corrosion and other factors affect the integrity of the pipelines.

Is Your Well Water System Contaminated With H2S?

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The gas known as hydrogen sulfide, or H2S for short, develops naturally through a variety of chemical reactions or as the direct result of a sulfur bacteria culture infestation. The primary characteristic of the water contaminated with gas consists of the pungent odor, which is similar to rotting eggs.

Purifying the water source, extraction system, pipeline and appliances requires a professional expertise. In order to determine the source, extent and optimal course of action, a battery of tests has to be performed on your well water system. Let’s find out the basics of hydrogen sulfate contamination, to better understand what you’re dealing with.

What causes the gas to develop?

The reasons why the water and water-distribution systems in your home are packing H2S are manifold. Bacteria species that thrive on sulfur often constitute the factor responsible for the gas when the contamination is present at groundwater level, within the extraction system or along the pipelines dispensing water to the outlets of the house.

At the same time, chemical reactions in the soil or between the materials of the pipes and the soil could be the culprit. Lastly, the hydrogen sulfide gas might stem from wastewater/pollution seeping into the underground water source tapped in by the well, but this incidence is infrequent.

Are there health risks associated with H2S contaminations?

Most frequently, the unpleasant odors does not imply that your water supply is unsafe to drink. The bacteria cultures responsible for the formation of hydrogen sulfide don’t represent a health hazard on their own. The issues arise when the H2S forms from wastewater or pollutant infiltration into the groundwater source. Testing the quality of the water will help you determine whether wastewater and pollution represent the H2S’ source or not.

Another aspect worth pointing out is that high accumulations of hydrogen sulfide within the confines of improperly ventilated room can be dangerous. This includes the well’s housing, basement and virtually all enclosures that are connected to the water pipes.

Additional issues associated with H2S

H2S producing bacteria might not be harmful on their own, but in certain cases they facilitate the development of iron bacteria. The latter category of microorganisms tends to form paired with sulfide bacteria and generate slime along the pipes and within the affected appliances (well, heaters, faucets, showers, etc.). The slime produced transforms into clogs over time and also corrodes metal parts and pipelines. In addition, the hydrogen sulfide will stain silverware and other appliances that come in contact with it.

Estimating the location of the contaminant gas

While you are advised to contact a specialized service to determine the presence, levels and position of the hydrogen sulfide contamination, using the following guidelines may confer a clue about what you can expect:

• Unpleasant odors triggered when the hot water faucet is running could indicate a contamination in the heater.

• Unpleasant odors triggered by both hot and cold water faucets running via the water softener exclusively may indicate the latter appliance is the culprit.

• Unpleasant odor that comes from both faucets and irrespective of whether the water passes through the softener, but fades after a certain period suggest a contamination within the distribution system and/or your water extraction unit.

• When the odor doesn’t fade after running the faucets for an extensive period, then the H2S might be present within the groundwater supply.

Defrosting Your Well’s Water Extraction Unit

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There are numerous advantages to owning a private well pump. From the ability to select the type of filtration system that’s appropriate for the drinking water of your family, to the superior taste and the lower utility bills, wells constitute an excellent asset for your property.

Are there any downsides to it?

However, as it happens with all good things in life, the advantages come at the cost of certain responsibilities. The authorities are no longer responsible for the maintenance of the infrastructure, which includes the pipelines, the extraction unit and the appliances connected to the water supply. Therefore, in order to ensure that the water is safe, you will have to address issues that develop on your own or with the help of a specialized well drilling and repair service.

For instance, power outages that prevent the water pump from extracting the groundwater or freezing temperatures that stop the circulation along the ductwork are your job. True, unless your well is equipped with a backup generator for this type of emergency, there is little you can do apart from waiting for the power to come back on.

What can you do when the water freezes in the pipes?

A freezing issue can be addressed in several ways:

• Keeping faucets running

It is common knowledge that flowing water requires substantially lower temperatures to freeze solid. To prove this assertion, you only have to look at how much faster still bodies of fresh water like lakes become frozen compared to rivers, and even streams.

Apply what you’ve learned to prevent the contents of your pipelines from turning solid by allowing a few water outlets to trickle when the temperature outside is below freezing. Even when the water is already frozen, running the faucets accelerates the melting process. Word to the wise, never run hot water through the ducts for this purpose; you might burst the pipelines due to the temperature difference.

• Applying flameless heating sources

Flameless heating sources are generally recommended because a) they don’t run the risk of melting the pipes and b) they won’t set any potentially flammable materials on fire. This category includes electrical blankets, space heaters, lamps, heated pads, etc. The heating source should be located at the junction between the pump unit and the pipe infrastructure. In the event that you can’t run an electrical cord all the way to the pump, then you can employ hot towels; replace them frequently for best results.

• Contacting a well maintenance and repair service

When the temperatures reach freezing level, standing outside with heated pads and hot towels, waiting for the ice blockage to melt is not exactly a picnic. A better solution to your problem would be to contact a plumbing service that specializes in dealing with wells and other extraction units. They have the necessary tools for the job – not to mention the expertise – to get the job done in a matter of minutes. When neither of the two aforementioned DIY tricks does the job and the temperatures are dropping fast, it’s better to pay for the service than to risk damaging the pump, pipes and your health.