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How to Make Sure Your House's Water Is Safe

Knowing how to screen for water quality will help you keep your family safe and your home clean.

By Kari OakleyPublished 4 years ago 3 min read

Access to clean and safe water is something that many Americans take for granted. However, it is not guaranteed. Whether you are connected to the public water supply or use a private well, there is a wide variety of potential contaminants that can impact the taste, smell and safety of your water. Knowing how to screen for water quality will help you keep your family safe and your home clean.

Know the Signs of Possible Contamination

Sometimes it is easier than others to determine if there is a problem with your house's water supply. Look for obvious signs of trouble, like muddy or cloudy water. Any time there is an off taste or odor coming from the tap, especially if it is not normally present, should be a cause for concern. A filmy residue that is left on clean dishes or inside the coffee maker is a sign of water with a high mineral content, called hard water. While there is not really a safety disparity in hard water vs soft water, the buildup can damage appliances and make it harder to keep things clean. Unfortunately, not all water quality issues are so obvious, so you may need to take additional steps to ensure your supply is safe.

Learn What Is in the Ground Where You Live

Ground contaminants tend to vary based on soil composition and other factors, and what's in the ground can directly impact what ends up in the water supply. That means possible sources of water contamination change depending on your geographic location. Proximity to certain industrial facilities or agricultural operations can also have a big impact. Educate yourself on possible sources of contamination that are likely in your area. A few things to watch out for include:

  • Radon
  • Lead or other heavy metals
  • Arsenic
  • Pesticides
  • High levels of nitrates
  • Check Water Quality Reports

Don't assume that, just because you pay for public water that is it safe. The water crisis that unfolded in Flint, Michigan and Newark, New Jersey are proof of that. However, you do have a right to know what is in your public water supply. Every water supplier must provide annual water quality reports to consumers. This details the presence of contaminants such as pesticides, radon, lead and copper. It will also detail the presence and concentration of any bacteria or other microbes. These numbers are generally compared to a standard set by the federal, state or local regulatory agency. Make it a habit to read water quality reports as they are released. if you haven't been provided one, call your water company and ask for one to be sent to you. They may also be available for review online.

Conduct Regular Testing

Knowing about potential hazards isn't enough to keep your family safe. You also need to know what is actually in the water at your home. The best way to do this is to schedule routine testing. The EPA has released testing guidelines for homeowners who are concerned about potential contamination. There are several DIY kits you can purchase at home improvement stores or online retailers; however, if you want to be sure it is done correctly or you have a specific concern, it pays to have a professional come in and perform more comprehensive testing.

Install Appropriate Water Treatment Systems

Once you have established what is or isn't in your house's water supply, you can address it. Look into treatment systems that meet your needs. Point-of-use filters that attach to faucets or showerheads tend to be economical and may filter larger particulate matter. If you are primarily concerned with drinking water, you might consider using a pitcher or countertop filter for that purpose. Whole house systems are more costly and generally require a plumber for installation, but some of them can effectively remove even microscopic bacterial contaminants. Water softeners trap minerals that cause hard water. Most use a salt solution, but there are also other options.

There is no reason to worry about your water quality. By identifying common problems, requesting test results and using appropriate treatment methods, you can ensure your house's water is safe.

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About the Creator

Kari Oakley

Kari Oakley is a fitness trainer from Kenosha Wisconsin. She now lives in downtown Chicago, and loves to get out. She is a big fan of anything adventure, and loves getting a workout in the outdoors.

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    Kari OakleyWritten by Kari Oakley

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