Frequently Asked water quality questions
What are the most common water problems in the New England region?
In private wells, Hard water, Iron, manganese, low pH, hydrogen sulfide, radon and arsenic are common. Some public water supplies also have hard water, elevated levels of iron and manganese and may also have levels of chlorine (used for disinfection purposes), that may cause objectionable odor and taste.
What are the main signs to look for in well water contamination?
Iron: brown or reddish colored staining in tubs, toilets, shower stalls
Manganese: Brownish staining in dishwasher, tubs, shower stalls. Higher levels can create musty odors.
Low pH: bluish green staining in sinks, toilets or other fixtures (this is dissolved copper)
Hydrogen sulfide: Rotten egg smell
Radon & Arsenic: Only detectable through lab water tests
What are the main signs to look for in bad city water?
Again, look for staining in sinks, tubs, showers and other fixtures as well as objectionable tastes & odors. Also, turbidity (cloudiness or other discoloration) in the water may indicate a quality problem. Do not mistake air bubbles in the water as a water quality issue.
Is my city water fluoridated?
You may contact your town to see if they fluoridate your water. Also, they may already disclose this in their Annual Water Quality Report, which is a requirement. If you wish to remove it, a reverse osmosis membrane technology system works beautifully.
Is it safer to have city water or well water?
One is no safer than the other. Your city or town performs frequent testing and must report any health threat contaminants above the EPA limit. If your well has proper water treatment equipment installed in your home and you have it tested on a consistent periodic basis, safety should not be a problem.
My water has a rotten-egg or sulfur smell and taste. What does that mean?
This typically means there is hydrogen sulfide gas in your water, not harmful at low levels, but aesthetically displeasing. It can be removed with proper equipment and technology. Another potential cause of this type of smell is high manganese in the water.
Why does my water taste like chlorine and can I get rid of that taste?
Most municipalities chlorinate the water at their treatment facility before sending it into the distribution system on the way to our homes.
Some cities and towns use chloramines (which is a chlorine, ammonia mixture). Depending on the distance your home is from the treatment facility in the distribution system, the level of residual chlorine or chloramine in the water will vary. Chlorine can be removed with activated carbon filtration quite effectively. Chloramine can also be effectively removed with a specialized, catalytic activated carbon.
My water has a metallic smell and taste. How do I get rid of this?
This is typically due to iron in the water or a very low pH which can dissolve some of the copper and other metals from your pipes into the water. A combination of a water softener and pH neutralization system can correct this problem.
How often should I test my water?
If you are on a private well, testing once a year or so is typically fine. However, if there is construction or other “earth shaking” activity in your area which could potentially have an impact on underground aquifer flows, you may consider testing sooner. Also, be aware of any sudden changes in your water quality in terms of taste, smell or look.