Water filtration systems can vastly improve the quality of a home’s water supply, but they are not one-size-fits-all. The type of system needed depends on the type of well from which the home draws water, the kind of contaminants are present, how much of that contaminant is present and how much-treated water will be used by the homeowners.
Before purchasing a water treatment system, homeowners should first conduct a comprehensive water test. The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services "NH DES" recommends that people who draw water for home use from a private well get their water tested every 3-5 years and have a list of approved laboratories on their website. Skillings & Sons can also recommend labs and give advice on proper testing procedures.
If a lab determines contaminants are present, homeowners will often begin looking for a water treatment system. Homeowners must be careful to check that the systems they are considering are able to remove all of the contaminants found. For example, iron and manganese are common contaminants in bedrock wells and is a problem Skillings & Sons sees in wells across New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Determining the concentration, or amount, of iron and manganese in your water, as well as the chemical form of these metals, is essential to selecting the right kind of water treatment system.
Another example is arsenic. Special cartridges can be added to water treatment systems, such as water softeners, to remove arsenic, but standard water softeners do not include the medium needed for effective removal. The NH DES recently issued an alert recommending homeowners conduct water testing for heavy metals and other contaminants, like arsenic, even if they have a water filtration system.
In the alert, NH DES writes, “In order to select the right type of treatment system, well owners first have to test their water. Water softeners, for example, can be effective at removing iron and manganese if properly designed and maintained, but are not effective at removing some toxic metals such as arsenic, which occurs at unhealthy levels in about one in five private wells in New Hampshire.”
Types of treatment systems
There are two kinds of water filtration devices: point-of-entry and point-of-use. Point-of-entry filters are installed where the water comes into the home and treats the water used throughout the home. Point-of-use filters are installed where the water comes from the faucet and are usually for filtering water for consumption.
When deciding on what kind of system to use, consider whether you want to merely to improve the drinking water or to improve the entire home’s water system. While drinking water is arguably the most important use of water coming into the home, it accounts for about 1 percent of the average homeowner’s water usage.
Water softeners are the most popular form of point-of-entry systems and are often installed to remove calcium and magnesium, which cause hard water. Water softeners use a chemical process called ion exchange, which switches the positively charged minerals with other less harmful positively charged minerals, such as sodium.
Water softeners also remove iron, manganese, and other contaminants, but some contaminants cannot be effectively removed by water softeners, such as bacteria, nitrate, pesticides or lead. If these contaminants are found in your home’s water supply, you may want to consider other treatment options, such as a reverse osmosis filter.
Calling a water treatment expert
Buying a water treatment system is one of the most important decisions homeowners will make. Finding the right system and the right model to properly remove all contaminants is vital. Homeowners do not have to go it alone. Skillings & Sons provides water treatment consultations, system sales and installation. We also provide recommendations for continued maintenance homeowners can do to keep their water treatment system running and annual water test to ensure contamination free drinking water.