Frequently Asked Questions
There are so many choices of purifiers and filters on the market. Where do I start? Start by reading about the various technologies that are available. This will familiarize you with the different technologies that are available to treat your water.
Questions to Ask When Purchasing Water Treatment Equipment. Here are a few questions to ask your water treatment professional. These questions should be used as guidelines.
1. What the water analysis indicate? Are health hazards indicated? Should additional tests be made?
2. How long has the company been in business, and are there referrals you can contact?
3. Does the water quality problem require the whole-house treatment or will a single-tap device be adequate?
4. Will the unit produce enough treated water daily to accommodate household use? If a filter or membrane is involved, how often will it need to be changed? How does one know when to change filters?
5. What is the total cost to buy and maintain the device? Will the company selling the device also install and service it? Is there a fee for labor? Can the consumer perform maintenance tasks or must a professional be involved? Will the unit substantially increase electrical use in the home?
6. Is there an alarm or indicator light on the device to alert the consumer to a malfunction? Does the manufacturer include in the purchase price a retesting of the water after a month or two?
7. What is the expected lifetime of the product? What is the length of the warranty period, and what does the warranty cover? The warranty may cover only certain parts of a device, so you should be aware of the warranty conditions.
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What does a water softener do?
A water softener is plumbed into where the water enters the house. It removes calcium and magnesium from the water and exchanges it for sodium or potassium, depending upon which type of salt you use. It can also ion exchange iron and heavy metals. It doesn’t raise or lower the Total dissolved Solids (TDS) level of the water.
Will Using a Water Softener Damage A Septic Tank?
Water softeners have not been shown to have adverse effects on home waste water treatment systems.
How much maintenance does a water softener require?
Water softeners are self cleaning. They automatically measure the amount of water used and regenerate by backflushing and running salt through the system to remove the minerals collected. You add salt once a month.
I have heard a water softener will remove iron, is that true?
Water softeners work on ion exchange. There are four type of iron in water; dissolved, colloidal, oxidized, and organic. A softener will remove dissolved iron in an ion exchange process. A softener is ok for small amounts of iron, maybe 1 ppm, however when you go beyond this it take huge amounts of salt to flush the iron from the softener resin. So the answer is yes and no.
What is the difference between a water softener and carbon treatment system?
Both units are plumbed into where the water enters the house. A softener removes calcium and magnesium from the water and exchanges it for sodium or potassium, depending upon which type of salt you use. A carbon system has one cubic foot of carbon, or more, in a tank similar to a water softener tank. The carbon reduces chlorine, taste, odor, color, and any chemicals present from all the water in your sinks, showers, and faucets. It is common to use a water softener and a carbon system in tandem.
What are the differences between the various carbon filter systems?
The differences are primarily in the filters and sumps used. Cheap carbon filters use a couple of ounces of carbon sprayed on a wax-like paper that is rolled up and covered in netting. There isn’t very much carbon present, hence a short effective life. Granular activated carbon filters can channel (this is when the water creates a “channel” through the carbon particles, thus going untreated). The best type of filter available today is the extruded carbon block. The carbon is ground into a fine powder, then pressed into a block under millions of pounds of pressure. The pore size can be controlled to the micron level. When one pore clogs the water has thousands of other pores to travel through. This gives maximum water to carbon contact and maximum use of the carbon.
What is Activated Carbon?
Carbon is an extremely porous material that attracts and holds a wide range of harmful contaminants. Activated carbon has a slight electro-positive charge which attracts chemicals and impurities. As the water passes over the positively charged carbon surface, the negative ions of the contaminants are bonded to the surface of the carbon granules.
What forms does activated carbon come in?
Activated carbon filters used for home water treatment typically contain either granulated activated carbon (GAC) or powdered block carbon (carbon block).
Is one form of Carbon better than the other?
Both are effective, however carbon block filters generally have a higher contaminant removal ratio and are more resistant to channeling.
Are all carbon filters equally effective?
No. Activated carbon filters are usually rated by the size of particles they are able to remove, and generally range from 20 microns down to 0.5 microns (most effective). The two most important factors affecting the efficiency of activated carbon filtration are the amount of activated carbon in the unit and the amount of time the contaminant spends in contact with it. The more carbon the better. Particle size also affects contaminant removal rates. The most common carbon types used in water filtration are bituminous, wood, and coconut shell carbons. While the coconut shell carbon is typically 20% more in cost, it is by far the best of the three.
How do carbon filter systems compare to pitcher filters and faucet-mounted water filters?
Pitcher and faucet-mounted filters rely solely on activated carbon filtration. While activated carbon is very effective at removing a wide range of contaminants, the problem with these types of filters is that they contain a very small amount of activated carbon. In addition to small amounts of carbon, the time the water spends in contact with the carbon, especially faucet mounted units, is too little to provide full absorption. Counter top and undersink activated carbon systems have removal rates of about 90-99%, while faucet mounted and pitcher style units only remove about 30-60% (if the filters are changed regularly).
What is UV?
Ultraviolet light (UV) is energy at the invisble violet end of the light spectrum. Even though we can’t see UV light we are exposed to UV rays from all light sources, Including the sun.
How does ultraviolet light purify water?
UV rays penetrate the cells of harmful bacteria and viruses in our drinking water destroying their ability to reproduce. Without the ability to reproduce, these organisms die and no longer pose a health threat. UV is a low cost and highly effective process for destroying 99.99% of harmful microorganisms.
Why not use chlorine instead?
While Chlorine changes the tastes and odor of water, Chlorination can also produce harmful by-products called Trihalomethanes (THMs) which have been linked cancer.
Does a UV system use a lot of energy?
No. A UV system uses the same amount of energy as a 60 watt light bulb. UV is an extremely cost effective way to treat water.
Why do UV purifiers require sediment pre-filtration?
UV systems require pre-filtation to maintain effectiveness as sediment and other comtaminants in the water can create a “shadow” which prevents the UV rays from reaching and disinfecting the harmful microoganisms.
How often does the UV light bulb (lamp) need to be replaced?
The ability of the lamp to emit UV light decreases over time. You should change the UV lamp annually. Remember – UV light is invisible! Even though the lamp is still glowing after one year, there might not be enough UV light reaching your water to be effective.
How often do your need to replace the sleeve?
The sleeve doesn’t need to be replaced unless it is broken. However the sleeve should be cleaned several times a year in order to keep the unit delivering the purest quality water.
What is Reverse Osmosis?
Reverse osmosis is the finest filtration available today. It is the most common treatment method used by bottled water companies.
How does a reverse osmosis water purifier work?
Reverse osmosis forces water through a semi-permeable membrane. The pores in the membrane are so small they reject 92%-98% of all dissolved solids. Reverse osmosis is usually combined with at least one carbon filter to remove organic contaminants that cause taste, odor and color problems.
Can Reverse Osmosis be used on well water or water from other untreated sources (lake or river)?
Yes. RO is generally an excellent choice for homeowners with well water. However, it is important to note that reverse osmosis does not provide foolproof protection against all microorganisms. You should have your water tested for bacteria, virus, and cyst contamination before relying solely on reverse osmosis. If microbiological contamination is present or suspected you should combine reverse osmosis with an ultraviolet system for maximum effectiveness and protection against bacteria and viruses.
What is the difference between all of the reverse osmosis systems on the market?
There are a few primary components which vary from system to system, including the membrane, storage tank, faucet, and type of sumps used. Higher quality membranes remove more contaminants and last longer. New membranes have a limited shelf life. Old style faucets have lead containing materials that can leach into the drinking water. Low quality sumps can crack and leak causing thousands of dollars in water damage to your home.
How often does the reverse osmosis membrane need to be replaced?
With proper maintenance of your sediment and activated carbon pre-filters, a reverse osmosis membrane should last about 2-3 years.
What is the difference between reverse osmosis and carbon filters?
For tap water it is a taste preference. Carbon filters produce water similar to mountain spring water, whereas reverse osmosis is purified water similar to distilled. Carbon filters do not remove dissolved minerals which impart a unique taste on the water. To some people this is perceived as a good taste, to others a bad taste. Reverse osmosis removes over 90% of dissolved minerals. These minerals can be both harmless and harmful depending on the source.
Why are reverse osmosis systems always combined with carbon and sediment pre-filters?
Contaminants that reverse osmosis is not highly effective in removing are organic compounds, which must be removed by activated carbon filters. The use of a pre-filter is also recommended to prevent the reverse osmosis membrane from fouling or becoming clogged by sediment, chlorine, or other contaminants.
Are all reverse osmosis systems equally effective?
Absolutely not. Like all water filters, the effectiveness of a reverse osmosis system depends greatly on the quality of its components, especially its pre-filter cartridges, and the membrane itself. Lower quality pre-filters will suffer from premature membrane fouling, reduced performance, reduced purified water output, and reduced membrane life.
What causes my water to smell like rotten eggs?
Sulphur or hydrogen sulfide is the culprit. It’s not usually found in surface water supplies because it evaporates into the atmosphere. Thus the best way to treat hydrogen sulfide at high levels is to have an aeration tank that fills under pressure from a compressor pump, maintaining the tank 2/3 rds. full of water and 1/3 rd. full of air. If you are using chlorine for iron bacteria or coliforms, this will oxidize the hydrogen sulfide and it can then be filtered using a multimedia filter. Also storing the water in an above ground tank produces great success using a low level tank ozonator to remove the hydrogen sulfide (it also prevents bacterial growth and leaves the water oxygen rich and tasting great).