WATER FILTRATION SYSTEMS AND WATER SOFTENERS
Water filtration systems can be installed for the removal of any of the potential water quality concerns you may be experiencing. For example, lead is typically removed from drinking water with either a reverse osmosis water filtration system or a carbon filter designed specifically for the removal of lead from water. Water softeners are typically installed to remove dissolved iron or manganese and hardness minerals in the water through a technology called Ion Exchange (see below for more detailed information on this). A water softener will also remove dissolved lead from the water as well, however they are usually installed ahead of the piping where the potential for lead leaching is most likely to occur and is not recommended for this purpose. To remove particulate iron or manganese, a properly sized sediment filter is required. Starting with a water test is the best way to determine what type of water filtration system makes the most sense.
HOW HARD IS THE CAMBRIDGE WATER SUPPLIED BY CAMBRIDGE WATER DEPARTMENT (CWD)
As of this writing, according to CWD, the hardness of the city’s tap water is typically around 40 to 60 parts per million or 3 to 4 grains per gallon. See the chart at left for comparison. CWD’s water is “slightly to moderately hard” and varies only slightly throughout the city. Hardness also varies slightly by seasons of the year. A water softener can immediately solve the issue of hard water in your Cambridge home. Water hardness refers to the content of the minerals calcium and magnesium in your water. When using dishwashers, you may notice a slight increase in “spotting” or streaking on glassware, flatware or white residue in kitchenware and showers. This residue consists mainly of calcium carbonate, the same ingredient found in anti-acid products and not a known health risk, however the aesthetic affects in your home can be damaging and annoying. Also, over the course of time, it is possible to accumulate damaging scale build-up inside your home’s piping distribution system which can be expensive to fix or replace.
THE AFFECTS OF HARD WATER IN YOUR HOME
Hard water interferes with many cleaning tasks, from doing the laundry to washing dishes to taking a shower. Washing your hair in hard water may leave it feeling sticky and dull. Dishes and glasses get spotted and a film may build up on shower doors, bathtubs, sinks and faucets. Clothes can look dingy and feel rough and scratchy. Magnesium and Calcium may have major affects on your home’s plumbing and your ability to clean, even though the EPA has no published limits on these. Scale from hard water can build-up inside water heaters insulating the temperature sensor inside the tank creating extra work to bring the temperature up to the set level. This reduces the life of your hot water heater and will likely require early replacement. Hard water can also cause scale build-up in pipes that can lower water pressure throughout the home.
The primary hard water minerals are calcium and magnesium (the hardness minerals), while iron and manganese (“The Stainers”) can also be found in water, mostly in private wells. Depending on whether the contaminant’s form is in solution or particulate, these contaminants can be removed with a water softener and/or a properly specified sediment water filtration installation.
Water testing and analysis will determine the best course of action. A water softener will improve your water greatly if you have hard water minerals, iron, or manganese in your water. If other impurities are confirmed in the water test, they can be removed with other types of water filtration systems. The maximum allowable level (per the Environmental Protection Agency) for iron as a secondary contaminant is .3 parts per million and for manganese is .05 parts per million. Small amounts of these minerals can have very noticeable, even damaging affects on your home’s water quality.
Water softeners vary, including up-flow versus down-flow which can make a big difference, particularly if there are elevated levels of iron or manganese in the water. In some cases where the water chemistry is more complicated, a different type of water filtration system may make more sense to remove iron or manganese.
For more information about symptoms and potential causes in Cambridge water, see the link at Cambridge water operations.
In addition to the above systems described, there are many other types of systems to remove bad tastes & odors, sediment and many other objectionable minerals and contaminants in the water. Starting with a water test will dictate the right approach. For more detailed information on bad odors and tastes in your water, see the link at: http://h2ocare.com/bad-odor-taste-water/.
Any water filtration system or water softener recommendation should start with a water test before an informed decision can be made. To determine what type of water testing to have performed and how to take a proper sample, call a water treatment professional or a state certified laboratory. In summary, controlling your home’s water quality is attainable through proper water testing and equipment specification with today’s available water filtration technologies at a reasonable price. Proper on-going maintenance is also critical to maintain a consistent level of great water quality.