The Biggest Factors Affecting the Quality of Your Water
Water is essential for life, but access to clean, high-quality water is not always easy. In fact, a wide variety of factors can affect the quality of your water.
The typical American uses 88 gallons of water at home every day for drinking, cooking, bathing, laundry, watering the lawn, and flushing the toilets. While some get their water from private wells, most of us get our water from a water tower or other public sources.
Municipal water supplies draw their water from surface water sources, such as rivers, streams, and lakes, or from aquafers or other groundwater sources. Pumps and pipes bring the water from these sources into your home.
As it flows from surface waters and groundwaters through your pipes to your faucets, a number of factors can deteriorate the quality of your water.
Top Factors Affecting Water Quality
Tiny bits of soil, rocks, and other particles, known collectively as sediment, can blow or wash into surface waters or seep into groundwater sources. During sedimentation, gravity pulls these small bits to the bottom of the water source. Sediment can also accumulate in your plumbing system, potentially obstructing the flow of your water or drastically reducing your water pressure. Over time, the sediment can dry on the inside surfaces of your plumbing, which can eventually damage your pipes and fixtures.
While you cannot always see fine sediment particles in your water, larger sediment particles can cause your water to look cloudy or rust-colored.
Overuse can strain a water system in ways that affect water quality. This is especially true if you share a community water supply with others in your town. Water systems respond to higher demands by pumping more water from surface and groundwater sources, which lowers water levels in these sources. As water levels drop, the concentration of natural and manmade pollutants rises.
Scientists (and plumbers) use pH to describe how acidic or basic (alkaline) a fluid is. On the pH scale, 7 is neutral, which means it is neither acidic nor alkaline. Pure water has a pH of 7: if water’s pH is below 7, it is acidic; if it is above 8, it is alkaline.
Acidic rain, soil microbes, tree roots, and even some rock formations can make water more acidic. Industrial pollution from mining sites, power plants, chemical dumps, landfills, and confined animal feeding operations can also drop the pH of nearby water supplies. Water with lower pH levels is also more likely to leach dangerous heavy metals from the environment.
Acidic water, along with the contaminants and heavy metals it contains, can be bad for human health and for your plumbing. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests drinking water should have a pH of 6.5 to 9.
Household Plumbing and Fixtures
Even in the smallest houses, there can be hundreds of feet of pipes and a wide variety of fixtures – and every inch of your plumbing system can affect the quality of your water. Homes built before 1970 and never upgraded likely have plumbing systems made from galvanized steel, which can corrode over time. Corroded pipes can cause bad-tasting water, odors, and even contamination.
For more information on water quality and the factors that affect it, consult with the plumbing professionals at Pilot Plumbing Company. We’re proud to be a family-owned and operated company offering plumbing services for commercial, residential, and multi-family units in North Houston & Montgomery County Since 2005.