Defining Problem Water


“Problem Water…” what is it?  You may have heard of the term, but the truth is that many homeowners are not totally clear on what it is or what it means. The truth is that problem water has a loose definition. It’s fundamentally any water that requires treatment beyond basic water softening. In other words, problem water contains contaminants other than magnesium and calcium, which are typically associated with hard water.Defining Problem Water

Where Do The Contaminants that Cause Problem Water Come From?

The water that runs in your own home for domestic consumption is typically derived from one of two sources:

1.         Public municipalities

2.         Private Wells

The main source of water for private wells is groundwater. This runs (as the name implies) underground and often picks up contaminants as it travels along the way. The main source of water for public municipalities is from surface water such as reservoirs or lakes and rivers. As water runs off through agricultural areas or travels through pipes, it can accumulate contaminants from natural ones, such as minerals, to man-made ones like fertilizers, chemicals and farming byproduct pollutants.

Common Water Problems:

Water contaminants can become problematic, and a real concern for consumers when they creates an aesthetic change to the water or are potentially harmful to human or animal health. There are a number of common contaminants which can dramatically alter taste, appearance and the smell of water. For example, hydrogen sulphide creates a rotten egg-like smell, chlorine makes water taste unpalatable like drinking from a swimming pool and iron can stain fixtures. Then there are contaminants that can be harmful to us, such as lead leaching through old pipes, or nitrates that come from run off from fertilizer use, leaking septic tanks and erosion of natural deposits.

While municipal drinking water is often treated with chlorine or chloramines, it often also contains small trace amounts of several contaminants. The EPA monitors the levels of 90 contaminants that can be potentially harmful to your health, but is not responsible for anything that comes from a private well. This means that homeowners, with a private well water supply, are responsible for testing and monitoring their own water for any levels of contaminants… and they do exist.

Signs of Problem Water:

The main concern about problem water is that often homeowners are unsure if they even have an issue at all. Fortunately, problem water often leaves signs around the home.  The most obvious indicators are smells such as rotten egg smells, bad taste, cloudy or discolored water, a build-up of slime in toilet tanks, pipe and plumbing corrosion or stains on fixtures or clothing. Other indicators, which can be often overlooked, as a sign you may have a water problem, is dull hair, dry skin or minor health issues, such as gastrointestinal problems.

What should you do if you think you have Problem Water:

If you have noticed any of these common signs, or are simply interested to know more about what’s in your water, the next step is water testing.  A basic water test can be performed by a water quality professional on the spot or a water sample can be sent to a lab for more comprehensive analysis and testing. These tests can determine if your water supply contains levels of contaminants which would, by definition, make it problem water.

If it is determined that you indeed have problem water, it can be corrected. There are a wide range of domestic water treatment options, from the most basic, such as filter pitchers, through much more comprehensive whole house systems, therefore it’s worth taking the advice of a water treatment specialist to ensure that you have all the facts needed to make an informed and intelligent decision.

Depending on your budget, and the severity of your particular water problem, you will need to determine which solution is best suited to your domestic needs. This will ensure that you can enjoy great tasting and safe drinking water for years to come…. With “no problem.”

Notation:  Rainwater or water in reservoirs or lakes are not contaminate free, when the water (rainwater) travels through the air, smog, bacteria, etc…attach to the water so that water is contaminated.

About The Author, Terry Reeh, EcoWater Systems of Nebraska:

With more than 25 years experience in the residential and commercial water treatment space, Terry is a WQA (Water Quality Association) certified water specialist, LEVEL 3, as well as a WQA certified sales representative.  EcoWater Systems of Nebraska is one of the biggest water treatment and water delivery businesses in the state, Terry currently sits on EcoWater Systems (a Berkshire Hathaway Company) national Peers committee, as a water treatment expert advising other water professionals with less experience on best trade and technology practices.

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