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Common Water Quality Problems

Water quality problems encountered in New England: You can also find information at the Water Quality Association website https://www.wqa.org/Learn-About-Water/Perceptible-Issues.

SYMPTOMS

Orange/Brown stains in sinks, tub, dishwasher, laundry. Metallic taste.

Description of Water Quality Issue

A naturally occurring mineral. Shows up in two forms; Dissolved in solution (ferrous form – can’t see) or precipitated (ferric) particulate iron which you can see in the water.

Typical Solutions

Orange/Brown stains in sinks, tub, dishwasher, laundry. Metallic taste.

SYMPTOMS

Brownishblack staining in dishwasher & other plumbing fixtures.

Description of Water Quality Issue

Also a naturally occurring mineral. Will react with chlorine bleach to intensify staining. Can be health threat above certain levels, particularly for children.

Typical Solutions

Water Softener/Ion Exchange, Oxidation, Filtration.

SYMPTOMS

Green/Blue stains in sinks, other fixtures. Shortened life for plumbing, hot water heaters, other water-using appliances. Can also create pin-hole leaks in piping, a costly repair

Description of Water Quality Issue

Low pH usually caused by excessive carbonic acid. pH is a measure of the acid or alkaline content of water. 7.0 is considered neutral. Can cause increased leaching of lead and other metals that may be in the distribution system. Can cause pinhole leaks in copper piping, requiring costly replacement.

Typical Solutions

Acid Neutralization, Corrosion Inhibitor, Aeration

Damaging hard water scale build-up

SYMPTOMS

White Scale on pipes & fixtures. Difficult to make soapsuds. Hot water heaters and other H2O using appliances fail before their expected useful life.

Description of Water Quality Issue

Dissolved calcium & magnesium. Water hardness causes scale build-up inside pipes, restricting water flow while putting stress on water using equipment which must work harder. Can significantly reduce the useful life of water heaters, dishwashers, washing machines, etc. requiring early, costly replacement.

Typical Solutions

Water Softener / Ion Exchange

SYMPTOMS

Rotten Egg smell. Silver tarnishes easily. Can be corrosive to pipes at higher levels.

Description of Water Quality Issue

Dissolved hydrogen sulfide gas, can also be caused by iron or sulfide reducing bacteria. If you’ve ever been in a house with this issue, you will likely not forget it.

Typical Solutions

Acid Neutralization, Corrosion Inhibitor, Aeration

SYMPTOMS

Fishy, musty, or oily smell & taste.

Description of Water Quality Issue

Volatile organic substances, usually, but not always harmless. Sometimes caused by algae build-up in warmer months in water supplies

Typical Solutions

Reverse osmosis (RO), Activated Carbon, Ozonation

SYMPTOMS

Cloudy water. Faucet screens may clog frequently.

Description of Water Quality Issue

Suspended solids may hamper disinfection efforts and require more frequent faucet screen cleaning to resume normal water flow.

Typical Solutions

Sediment Filtration, Coagulation, Reverse Osmosis, Activated Carbon.

SYMPTOMS

Impossible to detect without appropriate laboratory water test.

Description of Water Quality Issue

Typically originates in deep wells that tap radon contaminated groundwater. Releases into the air when water is turned on in showers, faucets, etc. Can be a serious health threat.

Typical Solutions

Aeration. Carbon may be used at low levels but is not considered a good long-term solution.

SYMPTOMS

Impossible to detect without appropriate laboratory water test.

Description of Water Quality Issue

Occurs naturally through rock decomposition or from industrial uses. Mostly found as As III or as AsV. Can be a serious health threat.

Typical Solutions

Occurs naturally through rock decomposition or from industrial uses. Mostly found as As III or as AsV. Can be a serious health threat.

SYMPTOMS

Salty taste, heavy corrosion, salty build-up.

Description of Water Quality Issue

Usually shows up in wells dug near marshy or coastal areas. Highly corrosive, not drinkable, not really usable water. Can be purified into a high quality water supply.

Typical Solutions

Whole home Reverse Osmosis installed at point of entry into the home.