Since we all know that water is the life-blood of the home, it is important to ensure the liquid coming out of the taps is top-quality. Not only are there the obvious health detriments associated with dirty water, but, aside from drinking water, you want to have relatively clean and clear water feeding into appliances such as washing machines and dishwashers.
While professional water-quality testers are available for hire, it's possible to do-it-yourself. Even clean looking water might be contaminated, so it is prudent to test, especially moving to a new space. But before you start collecting samples to send off to the laboratory for analysis, there are some important basics to appreciate about where and when testing is needed.
Every property's water comes from either a public supply or a private supply. Public supplies include sources such as lakes, rivers and reservoirs. A private supply almost always means a well although some properties draw from a private pond or a spring. In some cases, such as cottages and rural homes, the source will be a public one, such as a river, but the filtration and purification will be done privately on the property instead of the municipality.
With a public supply, water-quality will often depend on the city or town and how much money goes into the filtration of the supply. It is easy to look up where your area ranks as far as water purification standards. You might be surprised, as often, a city with ample clean, flowing fresh water supplies, such as Vancouver, will actually have lower water-quality than a large metropolitan area, such as Toronto, that invests in advanced infrastructure to purify its otherwise unclean supply.
As quality is mostly determined by the city in public supplies, testing is usually needed for private supplies. However, even homes on a public supply should test the water after a renovation involving the plumbing, as the building process can cause problems that were not present before. Also, when purchasing a house with a public supply, remember that contamination can occur in the home's own plumbing. Old lead pipes, solder joints, and deteriorating plumbing can all lead to quality issues.
As far as season is concerned, spring or summer months are best for water quality testing. Try to test immediately following a heavy rain, particularly for well or spring supplies. If you are getting cloudy or frothy water, or if the water leaves a residue, these are sure signs of problems. If you think you have a serious problem, hire a professional water-quality tester, especially if there are children that live in the home. For infants in particular, water contamination, depending on the form, can have wide, acute and long lasting effects.
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