Home Water Quality Problems, Causes and Treatments

Many areas have water containing chemical or organic impurities from natural or man-made sources. These impurities may cause health problems, damage equipment, stain laundry and emit odors. Water-related problems will be found in homes serviced by a private water supply, and will also be found in water from municipal water supplies. Those impurities which cause health problems should be attended to immediately; other problems caused by water impurities can be corrected.


Probable Causes

Suggested Treatments

Intestinal disorders. Water may or may not have "off" taste or odor.

Contamination due to surface runoff containing fertilizer, pesticides or manure. Unprotected cross connections. Sewage infiltration.
Have water analyzed to determine type of contamination. Disinfect water. Install check valves or other protection at cross connections and maintain air gaps between faucets and any possible source of contamination.

Soap doesn't lather well. Greasy, grimy rings
in tubs and sinks. Dingy laundry with a
harsh feel and possible white or gray streaks Milky film or spots on dishes washed in automatic dishwasher. Scale build-up in hot water heater. Scale build-up in pipes and reduced water flow.

Hard water due to calcium and magnesium compounds dissolved from rocks and minerals in the earth. The amt. hardness is determined by number of grains per gallon of these compounds.
0-3 grains per gallon = Soft
4-9 grains per gallon = Average
over 10 grains per gallon = Hard
Install a water softener for both hot and cold water, bypassing outside water lines. Install a reverse osmosis system to kitchen cold water line if water softener is selected and sodium in the diet is a concern.
Reddish-brown stains in sinks, toilets, tubs,
dishwashers and dishes. Reddish-brown
stains or yellowing of laundry, especially
after using chlorine bleach. Water tastes
metallic. Fluffy brown sediment in standing
water (see also reddish slime).
Dissolved iron in the water that is oxidized by air to form iron oxide, which is insoluble (see also iron bacteria). Have water analyzed to determine type and amount of iron problem, then select appropriate iron removal equipment, either a high capacity water softener or manganese greensand filter.
Reddish slime on walls of toilet flush tank
and reduced water flow. Slimy material
suspended in clear water.
Iron bacteria, which live on iron in the water and eventually harden into scale.
Have water analyzed to determine type and amount of iron problem, then select appropriate iron removal equipment, either a high capacity water softener or manganese greensand filter.
Iron pipes rust. Water dripping from corroded galvanized pipe has a rusty color.
Corroded copper or brass pipes causes blue-green stains on sinks. Laundry may have red, reddish-brown or blue-green stains. Metallic taste.
Low pH, commonly called acid water, often caused by a high concentration of carbon dioxide.Have water analyzed to determine the extent of the problem, then use appropriate chemical treatments and filters, such as aeration, caustic soda, soda ash or calcium carbonate filter.
Rotten egg odor from both hot and cold water pipes. Copper and silver turn black in the water. Iron, steel or copper parts of pumps, pipes and fixtures corroded. Black
stains on laundry and porcelain. Black
particles in water.
Hydrogen sulfide, sulfate reducing bacteria or sulfur bacteria.
Compounds such as iron sulfide, calcium sulfide and sodium sulfide can interfere with hydrogen sulfide removal. Have water analyzed then select appropriate treatment followed by filtration through a sand filter.
Rotten egg odor from hot water only.
Chemical reaction of anti-corrorsion magnesium rod in electric water heater.
Remove magnesium rod and replace with chemical solution feeder to protect water heater from corrosion or chlorine water.
Objectionable taste or odor other than
hydrogen sulfide.
Decaying organic matter, pollution from surface drainage, insufficient chlorine being used to disinfect water.
Install whole house filter or a reverse osmosis system.
Turbid, cloudy or dirty water. Dingy laundry.
Silt, sediment, small organisms or organic matter suspended in the water.
Install a fiber filter, a sand filter or a reverse osmosis system.
Black stains on sinks, tubs and laundry.
Water may feel greasy.
Manganese (often appears with iron).
Iron removal treatment also removes manganese. Either a whole house filter or an Iron filter.

The problems listed above are not the only ones possible. Other impurities such as tannins, nitrates, fluoride, arsenic, chlorides, asbestos fibers, detergents and organic materials may contaminate water with or without visible symptoms. If there is reason to believe your water may have been contaminated and is dangerous or if impurities are simply a nuisance, have the water analyzed either by HealthSmart Nutrition (for hardness, iron, pH, TDS) or by a reputable lab, read the report carefully and contact our HealthSmart professional who will help you take appropriate action .