Do you know what’s in your water and how it could be impacting your health and home? While many assume tap water is simply a collection of H2O molecules, many municipal sources supply a cocktail of minerals, chemicals, microscopic contaminants, and pharmaceutical runoff directly to your tap.
Thankfully, water inspection methods are available to keep you informed and help you consider water treatment options to protect your health—while saving you time and money on repairing plumbing appliances and fixtures that could be deteriorating due to poor water conditions.
When Should I Test My Water?
The composition of your tap water affects its taste and smell. It could also impact your long-term health (posing cancer, hormone, and fertility risks) and add stress and decay to your house’s pipes and plumbing fixtures.
Water quality and composition can vary greatly from region to region, so it’s important to assess the water you’re using in your own home. As a first step to addressing potential water quality issues, conduct a preliminary evaluation by asking the following questions:
- Does your water have a strange odor or taste?
- Does your water appear discolored, frothy, or cloudy?
- Have you noticed any water stains or residue on your appliances, fixtures, or drains?
- Is there any scaling on the surfaces of your bathroom or kitchen areas?
- When you open your toilet tank lid, is there a ring of dirt or sediment around the water line?
- Are your plumbing fixtures failing more quickly than expected?
- Are any members of your household experiencing unexplained gastrointestinal issues?
If you answered “yes” to any of the above, you should contact an expert to help test your water supply for total dissolved solids, pH, hardness, and iron.
Top 4 Water Inspection Measures and Why They Matter
1. Why is total dissolved solids (Tds) Important to assess?
In addition to hydrogen (H) and oxygen (O) molecules, natural water accumulates TDS as it comes into contact with rocks, soils, sewage, and even industrial wastewater. According to the United States Geological Society, total dissolved solids in water could include:
When water becomes overly saturated with these particles, experts claim it is unsafe to drink. The World Health Organization generally recommends less than 1,000 milligrams of TDS per liter of water to be safe for consumption. Any higher concentration could threaten your health and risk corroding plumbing fixtures, greatly reducing the lifespan of fundamental appliances in your home.
To find out if your water is safe, our experts can quickly conduct a TDS test that measures the concentration of particles in your water. While TDS testing cannot read what comprises the TDS in your water, it can alert you to potentially high levels of contaminants. Alongside a TDS test, you can visit EWG’s Tap Water Database to learn which particles are present in your city or county’s water supply.
2. Why check your water PH level?
In addition to mineral content, one of the most important water characteristics to test for is pH. While water pH level does not typically pose health risks, highly acidic water can leach metals from your pipes and the environment, potentially adding arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, and zinc to your water supply. These contaminants can cause significant damage to your health—especially to your bones and teeth.
Acidic water has a low pH (usually 6.5 or less) and can be caused by contact with the surrounding soil, bedrock, or industrial pollution. The acidic quality can lead to corrosion of your plumbing fixtures, so if you’re experiencing plumbing leaks (which should be addressed by a leak detection expert) along with bluish-green stains on copper plumbing, or reddish stains on iron plumbing, your water could be overly acidic and should be tested either with an at-home kit or by a professional.
3. What’s the standard hard water PH range?
Although low water pH levels may pose an increased risk to your health and water-bearing appliances, water pH levels that are too high, are considered “hard” and can also cause problems in your home.
The typical hard water pH range is above 8.5 pH, which can add a bitter taste to your water due to its high mineral content, including calcium and magnesium. Hard water leaves a mineral residue on surfaces it comes into contact with. You may notice that your dishes become covered in white spots after washing, which is a sign you have hard water.
When heated, hard water produces a white chalky substance called scale, which can cause major issues to plumbing fixtures and appliances as it accumulates in your pipes, faucets, valves, and water heater, reducing their effectiveness and promoting degradation.
To determine if your water is hard, you should test your water pH level. You can also consider hiring a licensed plumber to install a water softener that can help balance pH levels.
4. Why does iron in tap water matter?
Imbalanced water pH can also cause a higher concentration of iron to enter your water. When acidic, water dissolves iron compounds from soils and rocks. Additionally, well water often accumulates elevated levels of iron as groundwater passes across rock formations.
While iron in tap water does not typically impact a person’s health, it can cause an orange discoloration to form around the rims of your bathtubs and toilets. The presence of iron in water could also be a sign of corroded pipes, which can eventually cause them to leak or burst. Therefore, contacting a qualified plumber to test the amount of iron in your water can help diagnose potential plumbing issues before they become an emergency.
Water Quality and Plumbing Issues
Sediment and other solids reduce the efficacy of your plumbing fixtures, including toilets, faucets, valves, and water heaters. For example, as sediment settles on the bottom of your water heater, it builds up and can block water from entering the lower heating element. This forces it to work harder to produce hot water—an issue that can be alleviated by keeping a water heater maintenance checklist and learning how to drain a water heater.
While regularly maintaining your water heater and other appliances can help extend their longevity, the continual presence of low-quality water will inevitably add strain. This causes them to break down more quickly, which can be avoided by learning what’s in your water and then determining if water treatment options are right for you. Keep in mind, while pH testing can be performed with at-home kits, DIY water inspection methods for TDS and other elements are often unreliable and should be performed by a professional.
Heil Plumbing DMV is a family-run company owned by a third-generation master plumber. We can help you with a full range of plumbing services, including toilet installation and repair, leak detection and pipe repair, water heater repair and installation, faucet repair and installation, drain cleaning, water treatment, and more.
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