Water described as “hard” is high in dissolved minerals, specifically calcium and magnesium. Hard water is not a health risk, but a nuisance because of mineral buildup on fixtures and poor soap and/or detergent performance.
Water, by nature, is a solvent and picks up impurities easily. As water moves through soil and rock, it dissolves very small amounts of minerals and holds them in solution. Calcium, magnesium, iron, lead and other minerals dissolved in water are the most common minerals that make water “hard.” The degree of hardness becomes greater as the mineral content increases. The result.......
Hard water can cause scale to build within plumbing, water heaters, dishwashers, faucets and any water related appliances limiting the water flow, reducing the life of the product and increasing operation and maintenance costs. For example, water heaters, when supplied with softened water, last up to 50% longer and consume up to 29% less energy .
Corrosive water, often called aggressive water, is simply defined as a condition of water in-which the molecules seek minerals and or metals from the environment they are contained. Factors that make water corrosive include:
- An acidic pH - Lower pH- Higher acidity
- Low alkalinity
- Higher dissolved solids as measured by TDS (total dissolved solids)
- High environmental temperatures
EFFECTS OF CORROSIVE WATER
Corrosive water can cause harmful health effects, create taste problems in the water and can result in physical damage to plumbing systems and appliances. These three concerns are discussed below.
- Damage to Plumbing/Appliances- If your water is leaching metal from the plumbing and appliances of your home, you should expect that eventual repair or replacement will be inevitable. While all plumbing and appliances deteriorate to some degree over time, corrosive water causes deterioration at a much more rapid rate. Such deterioration cannot be reversed and flushing the plumbing will not lessen this structural damage, water treatment is required.
- Aesthetic Considerations (taste and appearance) - At higher levels of copper, the water will taste metallic. There is little taste from lead even when the dissolved lead concentration is high. The presence of elevated copper can also stain clothing, fixtures and hair. Flushing the plumbing will somewhat reduce staining but will not lessen structural damage.
- Health Hazards - Corrosive water, by itself, is not a health concern for most persons; orange juice, vinegar and carbonated soft drinks are all considerably more corrosive than typical area well water. What is of concern is that corrosive water can dissolve metals from the plumbing within your home and your well pump. The consumption of excessive amounts of certain metals can present a health risk.
Nitrates in Water
The major sources of nitrates in drinking water are runoff from fertilizer use; leakage from septic tanks, sewage; and erosion of natural deposits. The EPA has set an enforceable regulation for nitrates, called a maximum contaminant level (MCL), at 10 mg/L or 10 ppm. Because nitrates are known to hold adverse health effects when consumed in high levels, especially for those under 6 months in age, it is important to have your water supply tested for the presence of nitrates.