Drinking water is vital in every household. Water saves lives, but water has also caused deaths when unsafe. Families and entire communities have suffered disease outbreaks from contaminated water. Some outcomes have been fatal. You must ensure that the water in your home is safe for drinking. Due diligence may save your life and the entire household. It also contains vital minerals such as calcium and magnesium needed for a healthy body. These minerals are dangerous in excess amounts and will cause adverse health conditions such as cardiovascular disease.
Your senses are a vital ally for detecting contamination in water. You should trust your sight, taste, feel, and smell to indicate you are handling unsafe water for drinking. There are other contaminants in water that you may not detect using your senses. It requires specialized technology or expertise to tell, which is why you need to seek the opinion of water technicians. Knowing how to tell if tap water is safe is the surest way to avoid endless visits to the orthopedic doctor for waterborne diseases.
Quick Things You Should Know about the Water in Your Tap
It is important to have the background of the water you drink at home to identify issues that indicate the safety is compromised. Having the information also helps you know if it is safe in the first place so that you react promptly and salvage the problem.
1. The Type of Water and the Quality Standards
Tap and bottled water are always considered safe for drinking. Bottled water is tested and certified to meet safety standards by the Food and Drug Administration. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does similar quality control for tap water. The latter provides consumers with important information about the tap water in their areas, like the source, level of contaminants, and potential health risks. Doing self-quality tests: once every year is important if you use well water in your taps since EPA does not handle it. Check that the contaminants are within safe limits for consumption within the home. Its standards are instrumental in how to tell if tap water is safe to drink.
2. The Level of Hardness
Water is either hard or soft depending on the number of minerals it contains. The minerals do not make hard water or soft water better. Hard water poses health risks because of its high mineral content. It also tastes different from soft water. Your preferred taste determines the choice. Most importantly, 85% of water sources in the United States are hard and require the installation of water softeners to reduce the mineral content in tap water for home use. Measuring the calcium and magnesium content of the water determines if it is hard or soft. It is crucial in water testing and knowing how to tell if tap water is safe for drinking.
3. Know about Tap Water Testing
Areas with less than 100,000 households and those that rely on well water require owners to conduct self-water quality tests. Homes with lead pipes, mostly built before 1986, also require the tap water to be tested to confirm that there is no lead contamination. You can test tap water or water well with a tap water testing kit. Purchase one from the shops for $20-$150, or ask your water supplier to provide it. The recommended way is to take samples to EPA or certified private labs. They provide the most accurate results, but you must contend with the waiting period. You should consider testing when doubting how to tell if tap water is safe for use within the home.
4. Know The Contaminants in Your Tap Water
Water hardness does not prove its contamination. EPA classifies water contaminants as physical, chemical, biological, and radiological. Physical contaminants are visible to the naked eye. They include soil particles, trash, and other things. The chemical contaminants include pesticides, toxins, drugs, pesticides, and toxins in the water. Bacteria, parasites, other living organisms, and viruses fall under biological contaminants. Radiological contaminants closely resemble chemical contaminants but are composed of unbalanced elements based on protons and neutrons. You can check the health risks associated with each contaminant or report directly to EPA if you notice issues with your tap water, and they will sort it out. Knowing the contaminants can save you from regular costs on water heater repair because you treat the problem from the root cause.
5. Know about Tap Water Filters
Reverse osmosis filters are the most effective way of removing tap water contaminants. The downsides are the cost and the size. Buying one costs $1000 and above. Their large size also takes up a lot of space under the sink, which may require plumbing tools and time to fix or costs for a plumber to remodel the sink area. Carbon filters improve the taste of water by removing the bad taste caused by chlorine by-products. They don’t remove lead which is important in determining how to tell if tap water is safe for drinking. Buy high-quality filters approved by American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to get the right results. ANSI has certified filters from four labs, NSF International, Underwriters Laboratory (UL), The Water Quality Association, and the CSA Group. The types of filters give accurate clues when looking at how to tell if tap water is safe for use at a home.
Important Tests for Safe Tap Water in the Home
Access to safe drinking water is almost guaranteed in every household. However, you must be cautious about the source. It is more critical when considering the kitchen tap water in your household.Several things must be looked at when wondering how to tell if tap water is safe for use in your house.
1. Trust Your Senses
Safe water should be clear. The water must have no odor or funny taste. Metallic tastes, fishy smells, and cloudy appearances indicate the presence of hazardous contaminants in your water. Your sense of taste and smell will also point you to other things you need to fix, such as a slab leak before you get into more repair costs on your property. Dirty water in your tap should prompt you to check on your pipes and do repairs before things get out of hand or force you to spend on mold removal services. It is the first sign that something is wrong and can save you from lead poisoning, which leads to cancer. A metallic or sludgy taste in your tap water should worry you. It is a clear stop sign as you ponder how to tell if tap water is safe for use in your kitchen. The color, smell, and taste point at more contaminants beyond what the visible such as arsenic and nitrates. Senses are crucial when considering how to tell if tap water is safe before you go any further.
2. Check The Condition Of Your Pipes.
Rusty and corroded water pies are a ticking time bomb. Damaged ones will slowly poison you with lead, manganese, zinc, and copper. If left unchecked, you will incur further costs on water damage restoration services to get your house back in order. People living in old homes need more vigilance because most of their pipes were copper or a lead alloy- made. The foul flavor in your tap water can be a sign of low pH, but it can also indicate the presence of lead. The pipes are a perfect place to start. Their condition is important when wondering how to tell if tap water is safe for use when you notice a salty metallic taste in your drinking water.
3. Look out for Signs of Cloudiness
Safe water must be transparent and crystal clear. Cloudy water is not necessarily dangerous for health but can indicate the presence of harmful chemicals and pathogens. It is a sign that purity is compromised. Ignoring the cloudiness is catastrophic as you can be drinking water mixed up with recycled water from water reclamation systems in your area or worse. Watch out for cloudiness while wondering how to tell if tap water is safe for use in your house. It will save you big time.
4. Check for Sliminess
Carry out a test for sliminess as you wonder how to tell if tap water is safe for use in your kitchen. Wash your hands in the sink with soap and feel them afterward. A slimy texture on your hands indicates the presence of metallic elements such as aluminum, lead, and manganese. Contaminated water is unusually harder depending on the hardness you are used to in your home. You will notice calcium and magnesium shown as deposits building up on your faucet sink, or drinking glass. Hard water is not a sign of contamination passé but can point you to the presence of other harmful metals like lead, aluminum, and manganese in the water. Consider the water texture and identify any changes as you use soap in your home to be safe.
5. Take Note of the Water Color
You should be alarmed by any other color apart from a clear transparent one of water. You must pay close attention to the color of the water from your tap. It will save lives. Yellow water is laden with chromium-6, which causes cancer. A buildup of iron, manganese, copper, and lead causes browning. These metals give water a brown or orange color. Brown and orange water show rust, which is conducive to breeding harmful bacteria. If you notice a yellow tint on your tap water from a public system, leave the cold water running and see if it clears. It may just be a case of the utility clearing its pipes. Water with a green or blue tinge indicates high levels of copper due to corroded pipes. High exposure to copper causes liver damage, anemia, and kidney disease.
6. Take Note of the Smell of Your Tap Water
Checking for unusual smells is vital when considering how to tell if tap water is safe for consumption. If the water smells of bleach, it shows that it contains excess chlorine. It is added to water to kill germs and pathogens but creates harmful by-products when it mixes with other organic compounds. These by-products, known as THMs, increase the risk of cancer and cause kidney problems. Furthermore, haloacetic acids formed by chlorine also cause skin irritation.
Your tap water will smell like rotten eggs or sewage when it has hydrogen sulfide. It exists naturally in groundwater. Bacteria convert the gas to sulfate, which causes dehydration and diarrhea. Fishy-smelling water contains excess barium. It is a natural chemical that seeps into the water during drilling or manufacturing. High exposure to barium damages the liver, bones, and kidneys. To check water safety, pour it into a clear glass and move it to a different room. If it still smells like raw fish after swirling it around, it proves that it has contaminants.
7. Look for expert water quality reports
The best guarantee for confirming water safety is reading water quality reports from local utility providers and EPA. EPA grants complete access to a searchable database with comprehensive information. It details water quality violations, contaminants, reported health hazards, and the actions taken to improve safety and quality. The information can tell you about ongoing excavating contracting compromising the quality of your water. Asking the experts is good when considering how to tell if tap water is safe for use without a doubt. It is better than depending on your senses.
8. Try DIY
Doing water testing and treatment is the best assurance that it is safe. You have to test the samples the right way before treating the water. You can add or remove chlorine depending on the quantity or add softeners if the water is hard.