Water Quality Problems

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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.

Common Water Problems Water Quality Symptoms             Description of Water Quality Issue Typical Solutions


Orange/Brown stains in sinks, tub, dishwasher, laundry. Metallic taste. 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. Water Softener/Ion Exchange, Oxidation, Filtration


Brownishblack staining in dishwasher & other plumbing fixtures. Also a naturally occurring mineral. Will react with chlorine bleach to intensify staining.  Can be health threat above certain levels, particularly for children. Water Softener/Ion Exchange, Oxidation, Filtration

( Low pH )

low pH water

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. 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. Acid Neutralization, Corrosion Inhibitor, Aeration


Hard water in Essex

Damaging hard water scale build-up

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

Hydrogen Sulfiderotten egg smell in water

Rotten Egg smell. Silver tarnishes easily. Can be corrosive to pipes at higher levels. 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. Oxidation, Filtration, Carbon Adsorption, Aeration, Ozonation

Tastes & Odorsfishy smell in water

Fishy, musty, or oily smell & taste. Volatile organic substances, usually, but not always harmless. Sometimes caused by algae build-up in warmer months in water supplies Reverse osmosis (RO), Activated Carbon, Ozonation


Cloudy water. Faucet screens may clog frequently. Suspended solids may hamper disinfection efforts and require more frequent faucet screen cleaning to resume normal water flow. Sediment Filtration, Coagulation,  Reverse Osmosis, Activated Carbon.

Radon Remove radon from water in Groton

Impossible to detect without appropriate laboratory water test. 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. Aeration. Carbon may be used at low levels but is not considered a good long-term solution.

Arsenic Remove arsenic in drinking water Westford

Impossible to detect without appropriate laboratory water test. Occurs naturally through rock decomposition or from industrial uses. Mostly found as As III or as AsV. Can be a serious health threat. Depending on form, As III or As V. Removal techniques include precipitation, ion exchange, RO.

Salt Water Intrusion

Salty taste, heavy corrosion, salty build-up.

salt water intrusion in well

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.


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