Common Water Problems
A variety of factors can affect how your water tastes, smells, feels and works in and around your North Carolina home. Well water quality, possible contamination, an aging water distribution system, violations of federal drinking water standards and a home’s plumbing are examples of things that can affect a home’s water supply. Some water problems may not be as obvious as others. Below, we have listed the water problems we commonly see in the Carolinas.
Hard water contains dissolved calcium, magnesium and, in many cases, iron. Most homes have hard water, whether it is supplied by a private well or a municipality. In many cases, homeowners don’t realize they have hard water or the constant and expensive harm it causes. Dry skin and hair, bathtub ring, spots on glass and silverware, dull, dingy clothing, disappointing performance and a shortened life expectancy of water-using appliances are all problems frequently caused by hard water. Most don’t realize how much time, money and energy is spent fighting the hard water battle.
Cloudy, murky or grayish water is usually caused by dissolved or suspended solids. This is also known as “turbidity.” Water can become turbid naturally or from land disturbances such as construction, storms and urban runoff. The turbidity of your water can range from low to high. But even if your water looks clear, it could still contain a high level of dissolved solids. That’s why, whether your water is turbid or not, we recommend you have it tested.
Chlorine Taste and Smell
Since the 1850s, chlorine has been used as a disinfectant to kill harmful bacteria in water itself or the pipes that transport it. It has helped end a number of major threats to public health. Although chlorine in water is essential at the treatment plant and in the water distribution system, it is no longer necessary once the water reaches your home. Chlorine tastes and smells bad. It dries skin and hair, fades clothes (bleach is made of chlorine) and can dry out the rubber seals in appliances, shortening their lives.
Tastes and Odors
- Earthy or musty taste and odor:This is generally the result of compounds released due to decayed vegetation and different forms of algae. They are most prevalent in supplies that use surface water as their supply. While not toxic, they are unpleasant and can be offensive even at low concentrations.
- “Rotten egg” smell:The rotten egg smell is caused by hydrogen sulfide. It is a colorless corrosive gas that has the characteristic odor of rotten eggs. It can occur naturally from deep in the ground or can be produced by sulfate-reducing bacteria. It can affect the taste of food and beverages, making them unpalatable. In high concentrations, it can leave an unpleasant odor on hair and clothing. It can also accelerate corrosion of metal parts in appliances.
- Metallic Taste:As the name implies, a metallic taste to your water indicates the presence of metals such as iron, copper, manganese or zinc. Iron and manganese are often naturally occurring and are predominantly found in groundwater.
Iron or Manganese Staining
Water is a natural solvent, and given the needed time and conditions, it will dissolve anything it comes in contact with. That’s why, depending on where you live, your water can contain iron or manganese, which can cause rusty-orange or black staining. It can even alter hair color. Or if you have water that has a low pH, you can see the telltale, blue-green stains. You’ll see the stains on clothes, fixtures, sinks, tubs, water-using appliances and toilets. Quite frankly, the stains can appear on anything the water comes in regular contact with. These stains are very difficult to remove, if you can get rid of them at all.
Bacteria and Viruses
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there could be as many as 12 million cases of waterborne acute gastrointestinal illness annually in the United States alone. These illnesses are frequently caused by bacteria, viruses and protozoa that make their way into the water supply. And unfortunately, these contaminants can survive in the environment for months. Even well operated, state-of-the-art treatment plants cannot ensure that drinking water is entirely free of microbial pathogens.
As water travels through the earth, it picks up minerals, like calcium and magnesium. Calcium and magnesium are found in most water supplies; when the water eventually enters your home and is heated, it forms a rock-like scale build-up. Scale is obvious on shower doors and fixtures, but it will also form in places you can’t see like inside your water pipes and water heater. This can shorten the life of all water using appliances. Homeowners may try to chip it way with expensive cleaners but are disappointed with the results.