Types of Water Problems
Do you have concerns about the quality or hardness of your water? Please take a moment to fill out our quick water analysis form to schedule your free consultation today. Having knowledge about the types of water problems you have will allow you make sound decisions to remedy any issues.
Water hardness is determined by the concentration levels of Calcium (Ca) and Magnesium (Mg) in your water.
The term hard water refers to the quantity of dissolved calcium and magnesium in your water. These minerals, which come primarily from limestone type rock formations, are found to some degree in almost all natural waters.
Two Reasons why Calcium and Magnesium cause problems:
- When the water is warmed, they precipitate out of the solution and form a hard rock-like scale. This scale accelerates corrosion, restricts water flow, and reduces heat transfer in water heaters and boilers.
- When they combine with soap, they react to form a curd, which interferes with cleaning, dries out skin, and leaves deposits on plumbing and clothes (bathtub ring; ring around the collar).
Water Hardness is measured in parts per million (or the equivalent mg/L) or in grains per gallon (gpg). Note: if the water analysis is given in ppm as CaCO3 then 1 gpg = 17.1 ppm. A common aspirin tablet weighs 5 grains). There is no established limit for the acceptable level of hardness in water, but it is generally considered to start to become problematic at around 3 gpg.
Levels of hardness are referred to as follows:
|Water Hardness Level||Grains Per Gallon (gpg)|
|Soft Water||0 - 1 gpg|
|Slightly Hard Water||1 - 3.5 gpg|
|Moderately Hard Water||3.5 - 7 gpg|
|Hard Water||7 - 10.5 gpg|
|Very Hard Water||Over 10.5 gpg|
Waters which naturally contain very little hardness can also be problematic because they may be corrosive in some applications (see acidity).
Water which contains excess acidity tends to act aggressively towards plumbing and fixtures, causing corrosion and staining (i.e. – blue green stains on fixtures from copper pipes or pin hole leaks). Relative acidity/alkalinity is measured on the pH scale, ranging from 0- 14, where 7 is neutral, numbers lower than 7 are progressively more acidic, and numbers higher than seven are increasingly alkaline (basic). The pH value refers not to the quantity of acidity, but rather to the relative acidity/alkalinity of a particular sample.
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Auto Water Systems
The presence of Iron is a very common water quality problem, particularly in water from deep wells. Water containing even a significant quantity of iron may appear clear when drawn, but will rapidly turn red upon exposure to air. This process is called oxidation, and involves the conversion of ferrous (dissolved) iron, which is highly soluble, to ferric (precipitated) iron, which is largely insoluble. The ferric iron then causes red/brown staining on clothes, fixtures, etc.
Iron concentration is measured in ppm or mg/l (milligrams per liter, where 1 ppm = 1 mg/l). Staining usually becomes a problem at concentration greater than 0.3 ppm.
Automatic Water Filters
Manganese is a metal similar to iron which causes grey/black staining. It can cause staining in concentrations as low as 0.05 ppm. Manganese is removed in a manner similar to iron, although oxidation is more difficult, requiring a pH of at least 8.5.
Automatic Water Filters
Hydrogen Sulphide (H2S)
Hydrogen Sulphide is a gas which smells strongly like rotten egg odor. It results from the decay of organic matter with organic sulphur and the presence of certain types of bacteria. Even very low concentrations are offensive as well as highly corrosive (silver tarnishes almost immediately upon contact with H2S).
Because it is in the form of a gas, H2S cannot be collected in a sample bottle for laboratory analysis. Therefore its presence must be reported when a sample is submitted for a treatment recommendation.
Automatic Water Systems
Airaider 433s Brochure
Coliform Bacteria, Fecal Coliform and E coli
Coliform bacteria are common in the environment and are generally not harmful. However, the presence of these bacteria in drinking water is usually a result of a problem with the treatment system or the pipes which distribute water, and indicates that the water may be contaminated with germs that can cause disease.
Fecal Coliform and E coli are bacteria whose presence indicates that the water may be contaminated with human or animal wastes. Microbes in these wastes can cause short-term effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms.
Common scenarios which create bacterial issues are; hand dug wells, buried wells, well heads very close to the surface, and/or non water tight well caps. If any of the above scenarios exist, a well professional should be contacted to correct them.
Turbidity is a measure of suspended particles in water and can range from large particles which settle out of solution rapidly (such as sand), to extremely fine sediment which may stay suspended in solution even after standing for hours. Treatment depends upon size, which is measured in microns.
Upflow/Downflow Systems fact sheet
Tastes and Odours
Most tastes and odours are caused by the presence of organic matter and chlorine. The vast majority of these can be removed with activated carbon.
Volatile Organic Compounds
The presence of toxic chemicals at various concentrations has been widely documented in many water supplies. Detection can be difficult as these contaminants often have no taste or odour. Treatment depends on type and concentration. These chemicals may be industrial solvents or agricultural pesticides and herbicides. One of the most common is Trihalomethane (THM) which is formed when chlorine in the water reacts with natural organic matter.
Volatile organic compounds are compounds that have a high vapor pressure and low water solubility. Many VOCs are human-made chemicals that are used and produced in the manufacture of paints, pharmaceuticals, and refrigerants. VOCs typically are industrial solvents, such as trichloroethylene; fuel oxygenates, such as methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE); or by-products produced by chlorination in water treatment, such as chloroform. VOCs are often components of petroleum fuels, hydraulic fluids, paint thinners, and dry cleaning agents. VOCs are common ground-water contaminants.
Upflow/Downflow Systems fact sheet
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS)
TDS is the sum of the mineral salts in water and if too high can result in objectionable taste, cloudy ice, interference with the flavor of foods and beverages and scale left behind in cookware. Generally speaking, the lower the TDS the more acceptable the drinking water. TDS of 1,000 ppm or more is unacceptable for drinking water.
Nitrates are inorganic chemicals dissolved in some water supplies as a result of feedlot and agricultural activities. Nitrate levels over 45 mg/L as actual NO3 (or 10 mg/L as Nitrogen, N) can be a serious health risk to infants and children.
SQC Pro System
The so-called heavy metals are toxic elemental metals such as Lead, Cadmium, Mercury, and Arsenic that find their way into water supplies from natural and industrial sources as well as home plumbing. These metals, especially Lead, can seriously affect the mental and neurological development of infants and children.
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Uranium in Drinking Water
Uranium is a naturally occurring element in groundwater in some portions of Connecticut. However, there is not enough data to know where uranium levels are elevated. It gets into drinking water when groundwater dissolves minerals that contain uranium. The amount of uranium in well water will vary depending upon its concentration in bedrock. However, within high uranium bedrock types there is a large amount of variation within small areas. Levels of naturally occurring radiation in water are not likely to be high in shallow wells. Therefore the potential exists for deep bedrock wells in Connecticut to have uranium, although most will be very low. High levels of uranium indicate the potential for radon and radium also to be present.
Naturally occurring uranium has very low levels of radioactivity. However, the chemical properties of uranium in drinking water are of greater concern than its radioactivity. Most ingested uranium is eliminated from the body. However, a small amount is absorbed and carried through the bloodstream. Studies show that elevated levels of uranium in drinking water can affect the kidneys. Bathing and showering with water that contains uranium is not a health concern.
To find out if you have uranium in your drinking water you must test for it. The Connecticut Department of Public Health recommends conducting an initial screening test for “gross alpha.” If this initial and less costly analysis indicates there is little or no gross alpha, then there is no need to conduct additional testing. If, on the other hand, the results indicated high gross alpha, then the water should be re-sampled and analyzed for additional compounds.
There are private labs that are certified to conduct these analyses in Connecticut. You should contact your local health department for the most current listing.
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SQC Pro System
Radium 226/228 (Ra)
Radium occurs in ground water due to the radioactive decay of Uranium in geologic formation. Also, Radon gas can dissolve and accumulate in underground water sources, such as wells, and in the air in your home. There is a health risk if the Radium level exceeds 20 pecocuries per liter (pCi/L). Some people who drink water containing Radium 226 or 228 in excess of EPA’s standard over many years may have an increased risk of getting cancer.
Radon in Drinking Water
Radon in drinking water is a significant health hazard, though a lesser hazard than radon in indoor air. Homes supplied with drinking water from a private well, or community water systems that use wells as water sources have a greater risk of exposure to radon in water.
Radon in water is found in nearly all sources of surface water and groundwater. It is created by the radioactive decay of radium, a naturally occurring radioactive element found in underground rock formations, particularly granite and quartz. Water that flows through or over radium rich rock formations accumulate radium and thus radon from the decay process.
Typically, groundwater has much higher levels of radon than surface water. This is because radon in groundwater is “trapped” by being submerged underground and cannot easily escape. Because of this fact, water supplies from underground wells have a much higher probability of having significant levels of radon. If you get your drinking water from a surface water source, radon in water probably is not a significant health hazard. Large, pre-treated municipal water supplies typically have negligible levels of radon in water because usually this type of water supply is drawn from surface water sources, and because water treatment tends to reduce radon levels even further.