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Problems With Water Treatment Systems

Problems With Water Treatment Systems Problems With Water Treatment Systems

Water-treatment systems correct a number of problems, including water hardness, quality and taste. But sometimes water treatment systems aggravate health problems. Other times, water contaminants diminish the performance of water-treatment systems. To minimize these problems, buy equipment that can handle the amount of water your home uses, and always follow your system's maintenance procedures.

Elevated Sodium Levels

Water-softening systems add sodium to your water to reduce water "hardness," which is the overbearing presence of certain minerals. Many water-softening systems remove the minerals by using an ion-swapping method that exchanges sodium for the minerals in the water. The resulting water is free of the offending minerals, but has a high sodium content. For those with certain medical conditions, such as high-blood pressure, ingesting too much sodium is a problem. To determine whether your water has a dangerous level of sodium, check with the manufacturer of your water-treatment system to see how much sodium is being added to your drinking water. Alternatively, send your water to a certified laboratory for testing. Ask your local health department for a list of recommended laboratories. Generally speaking, people who are supposed to ingest no more than 500 mg of sodium a day should not drink softened water at all, according to Washington State University.


You might think that your water-filtration system protects you from dangerous contaminants, but filtration is not enough to protect it from bacteria contamination. Homeowners who have private water supplies must be especially vigilant against bacteria contamination. The best way to determine if your water has bacteria is to send a sample to a certified laboratory for testing. If it turns out it does, consult a professional water treatment service. Typically, the service will have to "shock" your water supply with a large amount of chlorine. This will kill the bacteria, but chances are it will return eventually. Periodic chlorine shock treatments may reduce the severity of the problem.

Hydrogen Sulfide And Sulfur Bacteria

A rotten-egg smell coming from your water is a sign of hydrogen-sulfide or sulfur-bacteria contamination. Both are unpleasant but usually harmless to drink. Sulfur bacteria is a nuisance easily treated with shock chlorination. But if you have hydrogen-sulfide contamination, it can interfere with the operation of your water-softener system, making it less effective. Hydrogen sulfide also can corrode the metal parts in your plumbing, water treatment systems, washing machine and dishwasher. Recommended treatments for hydrogen sulfide vary with the severity of the problem, according to the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Activated charcoal filtering can reduce small amounts of hydrogen sulfide, while large amounts might require the installation of a constant-chlorination device. As with other water contaminants, a certified laboratory should check your home's water to determine if it has hydrogen sulfide or sulfur bacteria.

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