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.

Many homeowners are concerned about their home water quality at the moment. This is natural because we are spending more time at home due to the Covid-19 pandemic and this has increased the demand for higher volumes of fresh water. If you want to improve the quality of your drinking water, it’s hard to choose the correct treatment method if you don’t understand the makeup of your water. In this article, we will examine why you would choose a professional checkup and what to expect.

The Importance of Water Testing

When many homeowners think about water testing, they may imagine a home that uses private well water as the main recipient. But, even public water sources are vulnerable to a wide variety of contaminants. Public water is tested at the local water treatment plant to ensure that it’s cleaned to a basic standard that’s safe to consume. Mistakes can occur at the plant, but the main problem lies in the water delivery infrastructure. The water must pass through extensive networks of pipes to reach your home and breaks along that route can allow contaminants to enter the water supply. When a contamination is detected, it will trigger a response including a boil water advisory to protect the public. But, it may take a while to notice or locate the source of the problem and significant volumes of water may be contaminated during that time.

DIY Water Testing Kits

Many stores carry DIY water testing kits that you can use to test your own drinking water. These kits will only give you a very basic understanding of your water and they are not very accurate. It may cost more to hire a professional water treatment specialist to test your water, but it’s worth the extra investment. Again, if you don’t fully understand your water makeup, it is virtually impossible to make informed choices.

Professional In-Home Water Testing

Our water treatment specialists can visit your home and help you to diagnose your water quality problems. If they find a problem, they can offer ways to fix the problems to improve the quality of your drinking water. This process typically begins when the homeowner notices a sudden change such as bad taste or foul odor in their water. At this point, we will ask a few preliminary questions about these issues to find out more. Then we can schedule a visit at a mutually convenient time to take a closer look at the problem.

In-Home Testing Kits

Our water treatment specialist will carry an in-home water testing kit and they will collect samples to find the cause of the problem. One of the best aspects of a professional approach is that our specialist may know the cause immediately. In many cases, our experience will give us a great idea about the possible causes which we can then confirm with water testing.

Examining Water Treatment Systems

At this stage, our water treatment specialist will ask about any existing water treatment systems that you may have installed in your home. They will need access to these systems to assess their condition, and they may need to check your plumbing and water supply line too. Examining the garage or basement can help us to evaluate possible sites for water treatment equipment, and taking photos for reference is helpful.

“Raw Water” Sample

A “raw water” sample will be taken. This is water that hasn’t been treated, and we typically use an outdoor faucet for this reason. Although some water treatment has already occurred, the quality may still be degraded for a number of reasons. A prime example would be water hardness, the minerals that cause hardness are not removed by the water treatment plant.

Smelling the Water

Most people don’t use their sense of smell much during their daily work. But a water treatment expert can detect many water quality problems from the odors present in the water, sinks, treatment systems, and other locations. Running the kitchen tap and sniffing the running water could reveal a few clues.

Kitchen Sink Testing

Our specialist will test the kitchen sink water to determine the pH level and hardness of your water. They will also test for the presence of other contaminants, such as nitrates, sulfur, manganese, iron, and TDS (total dissolved solids). The specialist should be able to give you some preliminary results at this time, and they can explain them to you in detail. If further testing is needed for the presence of lead, arsenic, heavy metals, and other contaminants, this will be done at a laboratory. Of course, as soon as we have the results, we can give you a full analysis of the water coming into your home.

Hard Water Testing

This testing is specifically investigating the amount of dissolved mineral content in your water. The main minerals to be concerned about include calcium, magnesium, and to a lesser extent, iron. These can be detected with a solution that changes color based on the level of mineral content present. An initial test shows if the water is hard or soft, and a second solution can reveal the hardness expressed as grains per gallon or gpg. The higher the gpg level, the harder your water will be.

TDS Testing

Many people believe that a high TDS reading is related to hard water, but this is only partially true. If you have higher TDS levels, it can indicate the presence of hard water, but it isn’t the cause. Our specialist will use a meter to read the levels of TDS, which are dissolved organic or inorganic materials. The lower your TDS levels are, the more pure and clean your drinking water will be. The TDS levels will also have a major impact on the taste of your drinking water.

In Conclusion

Once we understand the makeup of your water, we can recommend treatment methods to improve the quality dramatically. Adding a reverse osmosis filtration system can remove up to 99% of contaminants, and water softener can remove the mineral ions that cause hardness. If you want to learn more about professional in-home water testing and treatment, contact your local water treatment specialist today.