House & Home

Clean Up Your Home's Water Supply

Posted January 3, 2015

Drinking water is an absolute necessity of life, but how clean is the water you drink? Water straight from your faucet will quench your thirst, but it may come with a few unwanted "fringe benefits" in the form of minerals, microbes, nitrates, radiation, chloroform, and even arsenic. These contaminants can negatively both the flavor of your water and, more seriously, your physical wellbeing. You may be tempted to switch to bottled water, but that comes with its own set of drawbacks -- a high price tag, uncertain quality, and a major recycling problem due to all those empty plastic bottles. To ensure a steady supply of clean, healthy water for your family to drink, the most practical solution might be to install a water purification system in your home.

Regulation of Drinking Water

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the agency responsible for water testing and treatment in the US, that is, if you are connected to the public supply. The EPA regularly posts updates on its website regarding the quality of drinking water, state by state, as well as information regarding utilities that supply water to the general public. If you have a private well, your water is not under the jurisdiction of the EPA. You yourself must take care to ensure its safety by having a certified laboratory test it once every year.

Water Assessment Testing

A water assessment test is normally a part of the inspection process prior to purchasing a home. However, you can choose to have it done at any time. There are two elements to this test. The first is detection of primary water standards -- contaminants including dangerous microorganisms, viruses, disinfectants and disinfection byproducts, chemicals both organic and inorganic, and radionuclides. The other is the detection of secondary water standards -- harmless minerals such as iron or copper, which nevertheless affect the taste of your household water supply. The results of the test will help determine which type of water treatment or purification will be optimal for your home.

Types of Water Treatment and Purification Systems

There are a number of systems available to purify your drinking water, ranging widely in volume, efficiency, and price. They run the gamut from simple, small capacity, carafe-style and faucet-mounted filters, through under sink, reverse osmosis, and whole house water treatment systems. The more complex systems often combine water purification and softening functions. The reverse osmosis method is reputed to remove traces of pharmaceutical medication from your home's water supply. To choose the best model for your home, consider the results of your water assessment test, as well as your budget, the size of your household and the amount of water you consume.

Installation and Maintenance

Before purchasing a drinking water filtration system, check whether its installation will require a saddle valve. This can cause leaks, since it necessitates drilling a hole in the cold water line. A screw-on plumbing connection makes installing the filter system simpler. In addition, find out how expensive and complicated the system is to run and to maintain. Operating a non-electric method of water purification will save energy and cash. Maintenance may entail cleaning the device and/or changing the filter on a regular basis. Some systems have an electronic indicator to show when the filter needs to be replaced.

Laura Firszt writes for

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