You’ve finally found your dream home. Like other diligent home hunters, you’ve checked out the yard, the home’s exterior, and the bathrooms. But like most people, you’ve given little thought to the home’s water quality.
That’s not surprising. Most home buyers are too distracted by how great the place looks to think about water quality. Overlooking the kind of water your potential home has could lead to huge and uncomfortable problems down the line. Following are the various water issues you might face in your new home and how best to manage them.
Most people pay more attention to the pipes and plumbing than the water coming from them because they believe the water authorities in the area have covered it.
While the water utilities may have filtered your water, there’s a high chance of running into two types of water problems in a new home — contamination or water hardness.
Your home water may have some potentially dangerous contaminants that you have to look out for. These include:
Physical Contaminants. Your tap water can house several physical contaminants that affect the appearance of your water. Ever had water look brownish or have some deposits in it? These are physical contaminants, and they can be a nuisance to deal with.
Biological Contaminants. These are all the microorganisms in your water that can reduce its quality and, at worst, make you sick. Biological contaminants include bacteria, parasites, viruses, and protozoa.
Chemical Contaminants. Some chemicals in water can increase the risk of cancer and reproductive problems. They can also affect body function. Examples include fertilizers, pesticides, nitrogen, heavy metals, and pharmaceuticals. Lead-contaminated water is commonly found in old houses with lead pipes. You might want to do your research about your new home’s pipes before moving in.
Radiological Contaminants. Radiologicals are chemical elements with an unbalanced number of protons and neutrons, which makes them unstable atoms that emit radiation. Examples of these include uranium, plutonium, and cesium.
Wonderlane, via Flickr Creative Commons License.
Hard water is water that is high in minerals like calcium and magnesium. There are no serious health risks associated with hard water, but it’s problematic to deal with nonetheless. Hard water is bad for your skin, hair, home appliances and silverware.
Limescale deposits from hard water form around your pipes, sinks, shower fixtures, and faucets, discoloring and clogging them. Your brand-new appliances begin to look dirty and worn out in no time. They might stop working too, meaning you’ll have to spend a lot of money on replacements.
You’d also start to use more detergent in your laundry because hard water doesn’t lather. Thick, soapy residues would appear on your skin after you shower.
Over 85% of the water supply in the United States is affected by hard water, so it wouldn’t be surprising if your new home has hard water.
You’d have to get your water tested to know if your new home has any of these water problems.
Most water companies in the U.S. supply homes with water from streams, groundwater, lakes, and rivers. These companies are responsible for your water quality and filter out harmful chemicals and deposits. However, water companies sometimes fail to meet the required safety mandate, exposing you to low-quality water.
If your new home is in a rural area, you’re most likely getting your water from a well. In this case, no treatment plans are available and it’s completely up to you to manage your water quality. It’s recommended that you test your well water at least once a year.
To test the water in your new home, you need to get a water sample and send it to a laboratory accredited by your state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). For a fee, your water will be analyzed and any findings will be reported to you. Remember to take water samples according to the laboratory instructions.
You can find DEP-accredited labs online.
Some of the pollutants that commonly appear in water tests include hardness minerals, arsenic, E. coli, nitrate, lead/copper, and coliform bacteria.
You don’t need to abandon your dream home if you discover problems with its water quality. If the home is worth it, you can invest in a water filter or a water softener.
Or, you can also opt for a combination of both. Many home users use this approach because it provides better water in general. You can learn more about softener-filter combos here and select the one that best suits you.
Water Contaminants. You’ll need one or more water filters if your water has a contamination problem. Water filters remove unwanted impurities such as sediments, deposits and bacteria. They improve the taste and color of your water as well as the overall quality.
There are different types of available filter options. These can be as large as whole-house systems or portable ones like water pitchers. Your filter choice should depend on the nature of contaminants in your water, your budget and what you’re trying to achieve.
Even if you’re trying to save cash, there’s a water filter out there for you.
Whole house water filter systems serve the entire house, ensuring that you have clean drinkable water at every outlet. Water filter pitchers work on a much smaller scale but only help provide clean drinkable water.
Pay close attention to the exact type of contaminants your chosen filter eliminates. Some filters remove harmful chemicals, but not microorganisms. Pick a filter that focuses on what you’re trying to eliminate. No need to worry if you’re dealing with both: some filters can handle both chemical and bacterial contamination.
Hard Water. Hard water can easily be treated by using a water softener. Water softeners work by removing the excess calcium and magnesium responsible for making your water hard. You can easily find the right water softener for your needs and save yourself the stress of dealing with limescale, malfunctioning appliances, and all the other troubles of hard water.
A water softener is recommended for those using a private well, as they’re more prone to hard water.
Water filters and water softeners can help you boost your water quality. The treatment system you use for your new home should be determined by your water issues. If the water has contaminant issues, get a filter. If the problem is water hardness, get a water softener.
Unless otherwise noted, all photos via Unsplash, Creative Commons License.