If a home’s well water supply has naturally-occurring contaminants, it doesn’t have to be a deal breaker for buyers. Issues like minerals, metals and sediment in water can often be easily resolved without spending a fortune. To be able to assess the severity, and likely expense, of water quality issues, a skilled real estate agent should have a basic understanding of the types of water treatment and filtration systems out there today.
Point-of-entry and point-of-use water treatment
Point-of-entry filters or whole house filters are installed where the water comes into the home and treats the water used for drinking, bathing, and other chores, like washing clothes. Point-of-use filters are installed where the water comes from the faucet and are usually for filtering water only for consumption.
When deciding on what kind of system to use, think about whether you need to have treated water throughout the home or just for drinking water.
While drinking water is arguably the most significant use of water coming into the home, it accounts for about 1 percent of the average homeowner’s water usage and installing a point-of-use filter may be all you need. But for homes with hard water, for example, the minerals will eventually damage fixtures and appliances, making a point-of-entry system the best choice.
Types of water filtration systems
An inline filter is a general term for a water treatment system that filters the water through a cartridge packed with a filtration medium or filtering membrane. These systems can be installed under a sink and include a separate faucet for drinking and cooking water, or could be part of a point-of-entry system, such as a water softener.
Water softeners work by using a chemical process called ion exchange. Water flows into the home and the water softener, flushing over small plastic beads called resin. These beads carry a negative charge, which attracts the positively charged minerals, like calcium and magnesium, as the water passes through the tank. The minerals are replaced with sodium that comes with a salty brine solution stored in the water softener. Once the resin is saturated, the water softener flushes and recharges the resin. Water softeners are effective, relatively affordable and often found in homes with bedrock wells.
GAC Filters or Granulated Activated Carbon
Granulated Activated Carbon treatment is similar to a charcoal filter found on faucet or water pitcher systems. They can remove substances that give water a disagreeable taste, like chlorine, as well as hazardous substances like radon but they are less efficient in removing hard water minerals. Activated carbon works by passing water through the carbon to remove the contaminant. This method is less expensive to purchase and install, but you will need to replace the carbon filters.
RO or Reverse Osmosis
A reverse osmosis filtration system is the most effective method for removing harmful contaminants such as arsenic, beryllium, nitrate, nitrite, organic compounds, sodium, chlorine, and bacteria. Water is filtered through a membrane and the pollutants, as well as some water, are flushed into your home’s wastewater system. Clean water is stored in a small storage tank for use when needed.
UV or Ultra Violet
Ultra-violet radiation is known for its ability to reduce bacteria and other microscopic organisms from water but shining ultra-violet light on the water, damaging the DNA of the bacteria. This type of filter is not effective in reducing other contaminants and is only needed in homes with shallow wells at risk for bacterial contamination.
Aeration treatment removes contaminants like radon from water by mixing it with clean air. The removed radon is then released outside the home while the treated water is sent through the home plumbing system. Radon is a common problem in some parts of New England, so if there is a known radon problem in the area, a home buyer may want to investigate the potential cost of installing this system. If there is also iron and manganese in the water, home buyers will likely have to install an additional filtration system to remove these contaminants before water can be filtered for radon in an aeration system.
Skillings & Sons has extensive experience with water filtration systems and can offer advice on which water treatment system is right for the home. However, it is impossible to determine the right type of system without comprehensive water testing, with which Skillings & Sons can also help you.