With more than 30 years’ experience in the residential and commercial water treatment space, Mark Nelson is a Class 1 Drinking-Water Operator and a CBWA (Canadian Bottled Water Association) Certified Plant Operator. As founder and president of Nelson Water in Ottawa, Mark focuses on dealing with challenging water treatment system designs for problem water. He also heads the largest water bottling plant in the city of Ottawa with a delivery network throughout the Valley.
We all want drinking water that’s healthy to drink and cook with, and we rely on clean water for other tasks such as washing, bathing, and laundry. The water supplied to our homes is cleaned to a basic standard, but the EPA doesn’t recognize 1,500 potential contaminants, and our aging water delivery systems need significant investment. This means that the water supplied to our homes may not be as safe as we believe, and for this reason, many homeowners are installing their own water treatment systems at home. But, this represents a significant investment, and it makes good sense to choose a water treatment contractor that can deliver the water quality that you need. In this article, we will provide six questions that you need to ask your potential water contractor before you purchase a water treatment system(s).
- Are You a Reputable Water Treatment Contractor?
OK, you probably won’t ask this question in person, but it is a valid concern whenever you’re thinking about hiring a company to work in your home. It’s important to make sure that the company has a great local reputation and they are well established. Don’t be afraid to ask how long the company has been operating, and if you can see some referrals from past customers. Contact these referrals in person and find out if they were satisfied with the service they received. Make sure that your company has WQA certification and ask about their insurance coverage in case something goes wrong during the installation process.
- Do You Carry Out Water Testing?
If you think about it carefully, it makes absolutely no sense to install a water treatment system if you don’t understand the makeup of the water supplied to your home. There are less than reputable water contractors that simply recommend an expensive water treatment system without really understanding what it will be dealing with inside your home. For this reason, a reputable contractor will recommend or even carry out a water test for you. The water sample should be sent to an independent state certified laboratory, and the results will provide a great deal of detailed information on the contents of your water supply.
- Which Water Treatment Systems Do You Recommend?
Based on the results of the water test, there will be certain recommendations that a water treatment professional can make. It’s important to understand that one water treatment system may not be able to treat multiple different problems. As an example: an ion exchange water softener can remove calcium, manganese, and iron to make your water softer, but it will add sodium (salt) to your water, and this can be a problem for some people on special diets. So, when you start to talk about water treatment system recommendations, it’s important to discuss any special needs with your contractor. This will help them to find the ideal water filtration or purification system to suit all of your needs. This will often involve installing more than one system to deal with different issues that would otherwise reduce your water quality.
- How Will the Water Treatment System Work?
It’s a good idea to get a basic understanding of how the potential water systems will work in your home. This is also important from a practical perspective, there may be routine maintenance issues to consider, and the water treatment system may affect other areas in your home. As an example: certain systems require a period back flushing process, and this will increase the wastewater load on an installed septic tank. In many cases, a water treatment professional will recommend a sediment pre-filter to protect your other water treatment systems from damage and make them more efficient. These types of filters are rated in microns, and you need to know the size that you will need, based on the water test results.
- Will You Install a Certified Treatment System?
The water treatment system that’s installed in your home should have been thoroughly tested by an independent body. A great example would be the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF), and they test products to ensure that they can treat specific contaminants. The NSF is a non-profit organization that sets stringent performance standards for water treatment equipment, and they evaluate those systems to ensure they are making realistic claims. Any product that is tested and certified by the NSF receives a mark of quality that’s stamped on the system and used in promotional literature. When you speak to your water treatment professional, ask them about the types of standards that the equipment meets. Third party testing is always an encouraging sign that a manufacturer has confidence in their product.
- Do I Need a POU or POE Water Treatment System?
Again, this will depend on the results of your initial water testing, that have detailed the concentration and type of contaminants present in your water supply. There are two choices on the scale of the treatment approach; they are POU and POE.
A POU (point of use) single tap system is typically installed under the kitchen sink to provide cleaner water to that tap only. This is handy if you just want cleaner water for drinking or cooking and nothing else.
A POE (point of entry) system treats all of the incoming water before it reaches any of the taps or plumbing fixtures in your home. This is also know as whole house water treatment, and it provides a better quality of water for showering, bathing, washing, laundry, and many other water based tasks or activities.
A POE system is more expensive than a POU system, but it provides a better water using experience for everyone in the home. If you have contaminants in your water supply that are hazardous to touch or inhale such as Radon or volatile organic compounds (VOCs), it’s a good idea to install a POE system in your home.
If you want to know more about your options, contact your local water treatment professional for expert advice.