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Rhinebeck, NY
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Middletown, NY
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Top 10 Water Questions from Home Owners

Frequently Asked Questions on Home Water

  1. How safe is my water?
  2. How does water affect kids?
  3. Can water damage my home?
  4. How often should I have my water tested for bacteria?
  5. My water tested positive for bacteria. What should I do?
  6. Should I drill a new well to find cleaner water?
  7. Are there special issues I have to deal with because I live near a farm or orchard?
  8. Does all hard water need to be softened?
  9. What is that rotten egg smell?
  10. How does water become contaminated?


1. How safe is my water?

"Safe" water typically means that your drinking water is free of bacteria, viruses and other harmful microorganisms such as coliform or E.coli. Symptons of bacterial contamination include diarrhea, intestinal infection and queeziness. Children and elderly people are most suseptible to the risks of bacterial contamination.

If you have a private well, you should have your water tested for bacteria by a certified lab. You may be surprised to learn that up to 40% of these tests come back positive!

If you have muncipal water, there is good news and bad news.

The good news is that water supplied by municipalities is required to be sterilized and free of bacteria. The bad news is that the additives used for sterilization are also probable causes of cancer.*

If you are concerned about the safety of your water, click here.

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2. How does water affect kids?

Parents and grandparents are understandably concerned with how water affects their children's health and well being. The top three safety issues for families are:

  • Bacteria
  • Heavy Metals
  • Chemicals

Bacteria and other harmful microorganisms live and breed inside the well. Bacteria poses a range of health risks to upset stomach to serious illness.

Heavy metals such as copper, lead and iron can contaminate your water if the water is acidic. The acidity eats away at the homes plumbing fixtures and the corroded metal enters the water as it travels to your tap.

Finally, chlorine and fluoride may be added to municipal water supplies to kill bacteria and protect against tooth decay. By-products of chlorination affect the nervous system and is a probable cause of cancer. Fluoride may protect against tooth decay, but it does promote the discoloration of teeth.*

If you are concerned with these issues, click here.

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3. Can water damage my home?

Some water contaminants can damage the plumbing and water using appliances in your home. If you are experiencing stains or build up, there may be more serious problems that you can't see. Hard and acidic water are the most threatening to the integrity of the plumbing system. Water hardness is the measure of dissolved calcium and magnesium in your water and moderate levels become visible on faucets and other fixtures as a white scaly build up. The same build up is accumulating in your plumbing system and in water using appliances such as your hot water heater and washing machine. Over time, hard water will shorten appliance life and potentially cause irreversible damage. If your water has a low pH, it is considered acidic and can also damage your home. pH is the measure of the acidity or basicity of a solution. Acidic water eats away at your pipes and leaves visible green/ blue deposits in your sinks and tubs. Left untreated, acidic water will weaken and eventually create pin hole leaks in your plumbing.

If you are concerned with water damaging your home, click here.

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4. How often should I have my water tested for bacteria?

Because water conditions change constantly, the Environmental Protection Agency (www.epa.gov) recommends that private drinking water wells be tested annually for bacteria and nitrates.

 If you haven' t had your water tested this year, click here.

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5. My water tested positive for bacteria. What should I do?

Most people (especially those with children) treat bacteria with a whole house sterilization system. There are two popular options for treating bacteria, both with their own pros and cons. The first option is with an Ultra Violet light and the second option is with a Chlorination System.

If you have bacteria in your water, click here.

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6. Should I drill a new well to find cleaner water?

Sometimes homeowners will drill a new, deeper well to find cleaner water. Maybe you have a shallow well that is more susceptible to bacterial contamination or your well has unexpectantly become contaminated with sulfur. Whatever the reason, there are no gaurentees that a new well will solve your problem. A new well is expensive and may not achieve the results you want. In some cases,  you'll need to treat the water anyway! For expert guidance, you should have your water tested by a water treatment professional instead of a local plumber or well driller.

If this is your concern, click here.

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7. Are there special issues I have to deal with because I live near a farm or orchard?

Yes, but just because you live close to a farm or orchard doesn't automatically mean you have problem water. But it does put your well at a higher risk for contamination. Because the farming industry uses pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals, near by ground water can become affected. Unfortunately there is not a single test to perform due to the variety of potential contaminants. We recommend a complete water analysis that tests on 93 parameters. Although this is more costly that a single bacteria test, the understanding and peace of mind that is gained is well worth the price.

If you live near a farm or orchard, click here.

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8. Does all hard water need to be softened?

No. Hard water is not typically considered a health risk, but it poses risks to your home's plumbing system. Water "hardness" simply refers to the level of dissolved calcium and/ or magnesium in your water and medium to high levels are visible as white spots on your dishes and white build up on your faucets. Left untreated, hard water can clog up plumbing fixtures and water using appliances causing potentially costly repairs.

If you think you need your water softened, click here.

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9. What is that rotten egg smell?

That smell is a gas called hydrogen sulfide, and is very common in the Hudson Valley. While there are no health risks associated with drinking it, most people prefer to have it treated. Treatment options will depend on the level of sulfur you have and other contaminants in your water. For example, if you have bacteria, you may choose a chlorination system because it also eliminates bacteria. Or you may like an air injection system but if there is iron in your water, the system won't be very effective. The first step is resolving problems such as sulfur is to have your water tested by a water treatment professional.

If you have hydrogen sulfide, click here.

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10. How does water become contaminated?

Its easy to take for granted that water is readily available at your tap. Water takes a long journey into your home and there are many opportunities for contamination on this journey. Water is known as the universal solvent because it absorbs almost anything it comes into contact with. The negative effect of this amazing property of water is that it picks up undesired contaminants. Some occur naturally such as calcium , and some are man made such as through failing septic tanks or pesticides from farms. The biggest culprits of man made contamination are farming, manufacturing and other industry. If you feel the integrity of your water supply has been breached, you should have your water tested by a water treatment professional.

If you think your water is contaminated, click here.

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*Environmental Protection Agency (www.epa.gov)