Understanding Home Water Treatment Systems
The home water treatment industry has responded to recent public concern over water quality by introducing a wide variety of home water treatment products into the marketplace. When faced with so many choices, consumers wonder what, if any, water treatment system they need. The various methods for treating water and some of the advantages and disadvantages of those methods are described here.
If you are on a public drinking water supply, it most likely meets national safety standards. Home treatment should not be needed for health protection. Homeowners using a private water supply are responsible for monitoring the quality of their own drinking water supply. Water treatment devices can improve the quality of water by reducing health hazards such as bacteria, chemical pollutants and other toxic substances, or help remove nuisance problems, such as odors or hardness.
Before considering any treatment devices, you should know the quality of your water supply. Odor and hardness problems can sometimes be detected by simple observation. Detection of bacteria, potentially toxic substances and other contaminants usually requires laboratory-conducted tests. If any undesirable qualities are identified in the water, the problem can often be solved by repairing or replacing the existing water system or treating the home water supply.
Locating a safe water supply is usually the best solution to combat a health risk. When persistently contaminated water poses a health threat or makes the water unusable, consider the following options: correct well construction faults, eliminate sources of contamination, install a new private well, connect to a public water supply or develop a community water system. After considering all of the options, a home water treatment system may be the most economical choice.
Before purchasing a system, you should know how the various systems work, what problems they address and the maintenance required. If more than one problem exists, treating water can become complicated. Purchasing water for drinking and cooking may be more cost effective than owning and maintaining equipment.
Water treatment systems generally use one or a combination of these five basic categories:
- Disinfection methods (chlorination, ultraviolet light, etc.).
- Filtration, including activated carbon filters.
- Reverse osmosis.
- Ion exchange (water softeners).