Frequently Asked Questions
What does the WQA certification as a Master Water Specialist mean?
The Master Water Specialist designation is the highest level of technical certification offered by the industry trade association, the Water Quality Association (WQA). The certification process requires taking and passing a series of exams to demonstrate technical proficiency in water treatment. To maintain the certification, specialists must earn educational credits on a three-year cycle.
Who sets standards for water quality?
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets standards for municipal drinking water. The EPA has two sets of standards for drinking water, primary and secondary. The primary standards are health related such as arsenic and lead and the secondary are considered non health related such as iron and hardness. With some exceptions the states require public water supplies to meet the EPA standards. Private wells fall under the jurisdiction of the local board of health or health department which also generally adopts the EPA standards.
My house has a private well. Should I have my water tested?
Yes, private well water should be tested by a certified lab periodically to confirm that it is safe to drink. There are a number of parameters most labs can test, depending on how much you wish to spend and if there are specific contaminants you are concerned might be present.
If you are thinking of purchasing a water treatment system, it might be prudent to have a certified lab test the water before spending money on a system. This is to enable you to evaluate your needs in a comprehensive manner.
Read more on our blog at Lab Testing of Well Water.
My house is on a municipal water supply. Should I have my water tested?
Possibly. While the municipality tests the water to confirm it meets the EPA standards, the water quality coming out of your tap may not be identical to what was sampled. In some cases, the samples are taken at the plant before the water travels through the distribution piping. Also, there may be some parameters that you decide to have tested that are not measured by the municipality.
What is the difference between buying a water treatment system online versus from a local dealer?
In some cases it may be significantly less expensive to purchase a system online. However if it needs service, will the online company send someone to your home to work on the equipment? If you have trouble finding a company to service the system you could end up with what is referred to as an orphaned system. The weak link tends to be the person or people with whom you are interacting, including, are they technically knowledgeable, do they stock parts, will they come out in a timely manner to service your equipment? Over the years we have found that customers are better served by putting their efforts into finding someone they can trust instead of attempting to analyze the technical merits of one water treatment system over another.
What do the terms point of entry (POE) and point of use (POU) mean?
Point of entry is used to describe equipment which is installed to treat virtually all of the water in a house. Point of use refers to equipment installed to treat the water at a specific location in a house such as at the kitchen sink. It frequently involves adding a separate additional faucet to dispense the water for drinking and cooking and feeding it to the refrigerator for high quality ice and water in the door.
What causes bluish green stains in the shower and on the sink?
It is usually a copper based deposit indicating that the water is corrosive. If after testing the water it is determined that it is corrosive, two of the options to treat it are either a calcite neutralizer or a chemical feed pump.
What causes rust staining on white clothes, showers, sinks and dishes?
Two common causes are iron and manganese. There are a number of ways to oxidize these elements to a particle form and then physically filter them out of the water. The only way to remove them while they are in a dissolved state in the water is with an ion exchange water softener.
What causes white deposits on the glass shower door that are very difficult to remove?
The hardness which is primarily calcium and magnesium, is a major contributor to this problem. Softening the water by running it through an ion exchange water softener removes the hardness and replaces it with either sodium or potassium. These elements are very water soluble and any spots that occur on the glass are easily removed.
What causes a rotten egg/sulphur smell to the water?
A sulphur smell can be from a variety of sources. Sometimes it is only in the cold water, sometimes only the hot and sometimes only at certain faucets. All of those distinctions matter in determining how to stop the smell.
What causes a chlorine taste in our municipal water?
Chlorine helps to ensure that there are no harmful bacteria in the water. Municipalities frequently add chlorine to the water before it leaves their plant and travels through the distribution piping system eventually reaching your home.
If you want to remove the chlorine taste from your water, consider a carbon filter. It is generally very effective at removing the chlorine from the water either at the point of entry (POE), where the water enters the home, or at the point of use (POU) such as the kitchen sink.
Is it true that water softeners add salt to the water?
No, although most water softeners are regenerated using a salt (sodium chloride) water solution, they do not add salt but do add sodium to the water. The amount of sodium added is strictly a function of how much hardness, iron, manganese, etc. are being removed by the softener. There is an alternative type of salt available, which is potassium chloride. It adds potassium instead of sodium to the water, is not as commonly available and is significantly more expense than sodium chloride.
What about using a “salt free” water softener?
According to the Water Quality Association (WQA), in order to be a water softener the system must be able to reduce the hardness to less than 1 grain per gallon (17.1 mg/l). Most of the so called “salt free” water softeners do not claim to produce soft water but claim that the system changes the way the hardness behaves in the water, primarily associated with limiting scale formation. These systems are part of an emerging segment of the industry referred to as physical water treatment and there is some controversy as to exactly what they do, under what circumstances and how to independently verify their performance.
What is radon?
Radon is a radioactive gas that can be dissolved in water. If the source of your water is a surface supply such as a river or a lake, typically the radon level will be low. If your water comes from a well then the probability increases that the radon level may be elevated. Presently there is no EPA standard for radon, some states have set their own limits. According to the EPA the primary risk is from breathing radon increasing the chances of developing lung cancer, while drinking the water increases the risk of cancer of the stomach and other organs. Because of this, treatment is usually limited to POE equipment. Historically there have been two approaches to reducing radon in water, either using carbon or an aeration system designed specifically for radon. At this point aeration is favored over carbon in most applications due to performance and disposal issues.
Can arsenic be removed from my water?
Yes. Generally, you will find arsenic in water in two forms: arsenite, which can be expressed as As+3, or arsenate, which can be expressed as As+5. When you get a lab test, the results show the total amount of arsenic present in the water. Some labs can perform a speciation test to measure the distribution of As+3 versus As+5. Regardless of the distribution, the test provides only a snapshot of what came out of the faucet at the time of sampling.