There are several different symptoms of problematic water, and they all tend to be pretty noticeable — stains, odors, tastes, and the like. Despite their visibility, people don’t always associate these issues with the need for a water filtration system. Problems with water quality and consistency can be very damaging to your home and plumbing, and in this article, we will discuss signs that you need a filtration system.
Rotten egg smell
Smelling rotten eggs when you turn on your water is not an uncommon experience. However, this smell is not actually caused by rotten food hiding somewhere in your disposal tract or garbage. Instead it comes from hydrogen sulfide. Sulfates, a combination of oxygen and sulfur, are released into the groundwater and dissolve over time. They are naturally-occurring, and the gas that accompanies them does not pose a health risk to consumers because of the small concentration, although the smell is certainly a nuisance. Sulfur-reducing bacteria use sulfur as their energy source and tend to exist in areas with low oxygen, making pipes that carry mineral- and sulfur-rich water a welcome home. As they break down these minerals, they produce the hydrogen sulfides responsible for the odor.
If you smell rotten eggs, it probably is a sign that you need to get a filtration system that will remove the hydrogen sulfide, either through oxidization (where the hydrogen sulfide is combined with oxygen, turned into a particulate, and filtered out) or some other method.
Sulfates can also cause a bitter taste in drinking water, typically accompanying the smell of the hydrogen sulfide. Sulfates generally do not cause major, life-threatening sickness, but in infants, they can increase the risk of dehydration. When the concentration reaches extremely high levels, sulfates can have a laxative-like effect. Sulfate minerals lead to scale build-up in the water pipes. When sulfates combine with sulfate-oxidizing bacteria, they produce a dark, slimy substance that can accumulate in pipes and appliances.
Tarnishing, discoloration, and stains
Hydrogen sulfide also has another effect: it is corrosive to metals such as brass, iron, copper, and steel. In higher concentrations, it can cause the metal to tarnish and become discolored, this being particuarly notable in brass and copper. This can affect everything from your pipes and appliances to your sinks and dishes. If hydrogen sulfide levels get high enough, the appearance and taste of foods can be altered as well, even going so far as to affect coffee and tea — even your washing machine!
Iron stains are rust-colored stains that range from reds and oranges to darker browns and is either the direct result of the presence of iron or the activities of bacteria that feed on iron. When iron is present in the water, the signs will differ slightly depending on whether or not the iron has already oxidized. Water that is clear when drawn but changes towards a rustier color after standing is known as ferrous water. The water has fully dissolved the iron in solution, allowing it to pass through filtration systems that do not oxidize the iron completely. This will, over time, lead to iron stains on sinks, fixtures, and showers as the ferrous water begins to oxidize from oxygen in the air.
Iron bacteria are living organisms that feed on and accompany iron in the water supply. Iron bacteria are damaging to plumbing and manifest as a reddish slime that can clog pipes and fixtures, reddish or yellowish splotches on the surface of toilet water, and reddish slimes leaking from pipes. In order to remove iron bacteria, you have to disinfect the water and kill the bacteria itself, usually through “shock chlorination.”
Water filtration solutions
A home water filtration system is the best way remove these contaminants from your water. Many filtration systems on the market today work through the use of filters and activated charcoals, although for troubles relating to iron, an oxidizing catalyst system like Pure One’s Iron Zapper will be necessary to ensure the iron is fully oxidized so the rest of the filtration system can remove it. The use of catalytic carbon is also present in these filters, improving the smell, taste, and appearance of the water, itself. If water quality tests also show the presence of bacteria, your water treatment strategy will need to account for this as well, and a large-tank system with a backwash filtration cycle would be recommended.2016-07-13