Common Water Problems
- Water Symptoms & Probable Causes
- Giardia Lamblia & Cryptosporidium
- Soap scum and/or Lime Scale – Calcium/Magnesium
- Washed clothes look dingy/feel harsh - Calcium/Magnesium
- Spotty dishes - Calcium/Magnesium
- Film on shower door - Calcium/Magnesium
- Dull hair - Calcium/Magnesium
- Poor water flow - Calcium/Magnesium
- Hydrogen Sulfide – Iron / Manganese
- Reddish stains on fixtures and clothing – Iron
- Yellow or orange water – Iron
- Metallic taste – Iron/low PH levels
- Leaching of copper and lead from plumbing – high PH levels
"New washing machine hot and cold water hose leads"
"2 years of hard water scaling"
Calcium is naturally occurring and present in a large part of all water. It is the principle element that makes water “hard” thus forming lime scale deposits. Crystals of hard calcium form on everything that hard water touches. Heat, pressure changes and evaporation cause calcium to precipitate from the water and form scale. These calcium particles contain an electrical charge which attracts them to metallic surfaces. Therefore, the insides of pipes water heater, boilers, coffee makers, icemakers, dishwashers, sinks, tubs and toilet bowl surfaces build lime scale. It also forms on clothes, skin, hair and teeth. Calcium crystals prevent soap and detergents from sudsing. Hard calcium crystals can also be skin irritants as calcium in its hard form, is abrasive. Calcium deposits clog and are a major factor in corrosion of pipes, tanks, valves and water jackets etc. Corrosion reduces the life expectancy of all components using water.
Lead is still found in some metal water taps, interior water pipes, or pipes connecting a house to the main water pipe in the street. Lead in tap water usually comes from the corrosion of older fixtures. When water sits in leaded pipes for several hours, lead leaches onto the water supply. Too much lead in the body causes serious damage to the brain, kidneys, nervous system and red blood cells with greater risk posed on younger children and pregnant women even with short-term exposure.
A reddish metal naturally occurring in rock, soil, water, sediment and air. Its unique chemical and physical properties make it a commercially important metal. Copper is commonly used to make water pipes. Copper compounds are also used as an agricultural pesticide and to control algae in lakes and reservoirs. Copper is in our diet, about 1000 micrograms(1000 ug) per day is necessary for good health. Water contains about 150ug/day. However, elevated levels of copper cause vomiting, diarrhea, nausea and stomach cramps. The seriousness of these effects increase with increased copper levels or length of exposure. Children are more sensitive to copper that adults. Exposure over 14 days to copper in drinking water (higher than 1000ug) has been found to cause kidney and liver damage to infants. People with liver damage or Wilson’s disease are highly susceptible to copper toxicity.
Nitrite is one of the most common groundwater contaminants in rural areas. It is regulated in
drinking water because excess levels cause methemoglobinemia, or blue baby disease. Although nitrate levels that affect infants do not pose a direct threat to older children and adults, they do indicate the possible presence of other more serious residential or agricultural contaminants, such as bacteria and pesticides.
Nitrate in groundwater originates primarily from fertilizers, septic systems and manure storage or spreading operations. Fertilizer nitrogen not taken up by plants, volatilized, or carried away by surface runoff seeps into the groundwater in the form of nitrate. This not only makes nitrogen unavailable to crops, but also elevates the concentration in Groundwater above acceptable drinking water quality levels. Similarly, nitrogen from manure coming from fields, barnyards or storage locations and septic systems can also elevate groundwater nitrate concentrations because they remove only half of the nitrogen in wastewater, leaving the remaining half to percolate into groundwater.
Nitrite (NO2) can be formed from nitrate by a chemical process called reduction. Nitrate does not normally cause health problems unless it is reduced to nitrite.
Iron is one of the most troublesome elements in our water supply. Making up at least 5 percent of the earth’s crust, iron is one of the earth’s most plentiful resources. As rainwater infiltrates the soil, underlying geologic formations dissolve into iron, causing seepage into aquifers that serve as sources of groundwater for wells. Although present in drinking water, it is seldom found at concentrations greater than 10 milligrams per liter(mg/l) or 10 parts per million. However, as little as 0.3 mg/l can cause water to turn reddish brown color.
Iron and manganese cause a variety of nuisance problems, affecting the flavor and color of food and water. They may react with the tannins in tea, coffee and some alcoholic beverages to produce a black sludge, affecting both taste and appearance. Vegetables cooked in water containing excessive iron turn dark and look unappealing. Iron also causes reddish brown staining of laundry, porcelain dishes, utensils and glassware.
Manganese causes a similar problem, resulting in a brownish-black stain. Soaps and detergents do not remove these stains; in fact chlorine bleach and alkaline cleaners (like sodium and carbonate) intensify the stains.
When iron exists along with certain kinds of bacteria, problems can become even worse. Bacteria utilize iron to survive, leaving behind a reddish brown or yellow slime that can clog plumbing and cause offensive odor. This slime or sludge is noticeable in toilet tanks when the lid is removed.
Presence of iron and manganese in the water supply leads to buildup in pipelines, pressure tanks, water heaters and water softeners. This buildup decreases the amount and pressure of available water and increasing the cost of operating water-using appliances. Iron and manganese buildup results in the need for replacement or repairs of plumbing or water softening equipment becoming more expensive in the long run.
Chlorine based disinfectants have played a critical role in protecting America’s drinking water supply
from waterborne infectious diseases for nearly a century. Chlorine based chemicals are the disinfectants of choice for treating drinking water. Chlorine is often the best choice for groundwater disinfection because it is cost-effective, reliable, relatively simple, measurable and provides a residual. Residual helps protect water from microbial contamination all the way to the tap, providing an indicator of contamination in the distribution system. Chlorine-based disinfectants are the only disinfectants that provide this residual protection.
"Drinking chlorinated tap water is hazardous if not deadly to your health."
-HEALTH WATER FOR LIFE – DR. MARTIN FOX
“Known carcinogens are found in drinking water as a direct consequence of the practice of chlorination.”
-MUNICIPAL ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH LAB – FRANCIS T. MAYO, DIRECTOR
“Cancer risk among people drinking chlorinated water is 93% higher than among those whose water does not contain chlorine.”
-US COUNCIL OF ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY.
Illness such as typhoid, dysentery, cholera, hepatitis and giardiasis have been linked to
drinking water contaminated by human waste.
Coliform bacteria, common in the environment are not generally 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 the water, indicating that the water may be contaminated with disease causing germs.
Presence of Fecal Coliform and E Coli bacteria, indicates that the water may be contaminated with human or animal wastes. Short term effects of these microbial waste cause diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches and other symptoms.
Has no health effects, however, it can interfere with disinfection and provide a medium for microbial growth. It indicates the presence of disease causing organisms such as bacteria, viruses and parasites that cause symptoms like diarrhea, cramps, nausea, and associated headaches.
Is a parasite that enters lakes and rivers through sewage and
animal waste. Causing gastrointestinal illness (e.g. diarrhea, vomiting, cramps). The disease can be
severe or fatal for people with weakened immune systems. EPA and CDC have prepared advice for
those with severely compromised immune systems and are concerned with Cryptosporidium.
More Info on Preventing Recreational Water Illness Outbreaks