What To Do When Faced With Common Home Water Issues
If you're concerned about the quality of your home's water, there are two issues to be considered. The first is a blockage that can lead to flooding and water damage. This type of water damage and/or sewage spills can be caused by pipeline root infiltration, sewage backups, hidden leaks, or piping defects such as a collapsed or a cracked water or sewer pipe. The second is household water contamination issues that may cause a foul smell, discoloration, or a metallic taste in the home's water. These problems can indicate that chemicals (such as pesticides, metals, or industrial waste) or biological contaminants (including bacteria, viruses, and parasites) are entering the home's water supply.
The most common home water issues will generally present themselves visually, by taste, or by smell. Before you can make an informed decision on how to treat your home water issues, you need to narrow down where the sewage problem originates and what type, if any, water damage and restoration needs to be performed.
Water problems caused by drainage issues
According to FEMA, "Just 1 inch of water can cause $25,000 of damage to your home." Flooding that results in catastrophic water damage can occur for many reasons. And, flooding can involve more than one source of water infiltration. Bad landscape drainage patterns, historic rain events, broken pipes in older homes, a malfunctioning appliance, or clogged rain gutters can all contribute to structural water problems.
When local, municipal sewer systems can't handle the runoff from heavy rains or rapid snowmelt, then homeowners face the possibility of water damage due to excess water flowing backward into your home's sewer line and causing an overflow into your basement.
Water damage solutions
If the flooding and water damage is caused by a pipe or landscaping issue, you must first hire a professional plumber or landscaping contractor to solve the primary issue. If you live in a highly urbanized area with more concrete hardscaping than green landscaping, water damage due to drainage problems may be a reoccurring issue. Consider these solutions depending upon your specific problems:
- Slope or grade your landscape away from the home's foundation to prevent foundational or basement water damage
- Correct any issues with gutters or downspouts that may cause pooling around the foundation of the home
- If drains are backing up or slow, have the sewer pipes inspected for damage or blockages such as root infiltration
Once the initial problem is solved, make sure you follow through with a reputable water damage service provider that can prevent mold growth or weakened structural elements. Often, the homeowner doesn't realize the extent of water damage left after flooding because it can be hidden behind drywall and under the flooring.
Low-quality water due to sewage or chemicals
Here is where water discoloration, odor, or taste can lead the homeowner to discover a cause for low-quality drinking water in the home. If the levels of unwanted chemicals or sewage are high enough, these are your tell-tale clues on what may be affecting your home's water supply:
- Rotten egg odor - decaying organic material in the water producing hydrogen sulfide gas
- Chlorine chemical smell - high chlorine or lead, copper, and iron levels due to groundwater infiltration
- Musty smell - an unnatural smell that can indicate decaying organic material like tree roots
- Metallic taste - a high concentration of unwanted minerals like lead, zinc, iron, copper, and manganese
- Red/Brown color - metals and minerals that can also stain your laundry and sinks
- Cloudy or foamy water - extremely fine organic or inorganic particles that cause turbidity
- Blue or Green color - may indicate corrosive chemicals, even the copper from pipes that can be a health concern
Even hard water which is an indication of high levels of dissolved minerals can cause home water issues. Nuisance problems like dark bathtub rings, hard-to-remove soap scum in tubs and showers, and water spots on shower stalls and dishes are common. But, more serious issues can develop when hard water is left untreated over time. The buildup of scale and minerals in water heaters and pipes can increase the chance of clogging and decrease the efficiency of appliances.
Low-quality water solutions:
If your water is noticeably discolored or smells or tastes bad, and there have been no pipe bursts in your area, then you should have your home's water supply tested for chemicals and/or organic materials. The EPA suggests that homeowners definitely have their water tested if they suspect the home has lead pipes or if your water comes from a private well and you experience gastro-intestinal issues that could indicate the presence of e Coli bacteria.
You may also want to investigate water purification systems that will help to eliminate contaminants in your drinking water. There is a wide range of options from point-or-use filtration that may use carbon or other filtering methods right at the sink or faucet. A better choice for increasing the quality of your home water supply is filtration at the point-of-entry. These include whole-house, carbon-based filtration systems, water softeners, and aerators that can filter certain chemicals like radon by forcing jets of air into the water flow.
The final step is to remove any water damage caused by the leakage of low-quality water into the home. This will include discolored ceilings, flooring, porcelain fixtures, chrome, and basement surfaces due to the buildup of staining minerals like manganese, calcium, and iron.
Water supply problem or plumbing issues?
This is the million-dollar question. Sometimes, water leaks are hidden in your home and silently work at creating structural damage that will require thousands of dollars in water damage repair and home renovation. Signs that your home water issues are related to a plumbing problem include:
- Low water pressure in multiple locations
- Damp, discolored walls or spongy floors
- A spike in your water bills
- Slow drains or water backflow
Concern for the quality of your home's water supply may or may not be related to plumbing issues (such as lead pipes that need to be removed). But, your first actions with contaminated water should look for any indications of sewage backup or a cracked underground water pipe. Use your sense of smell, taste, and sight that may indicate a contaminated water supply.
The list of sludge contamination that may be the product of industrial, agricultural, or refining processes may surprise some homeowners. Here are some contaminants that can flow from water streams and into water supplies:
- Crop irrigation water that is tainted with pesticides
- Water-borne pathogens, bacteria, and viruses
- Pharmaceuticals and illegal drugs are thrown away
- Animal droppings and decaying animals and plants
- Toxic industrial chemicals like arsenic and plastics
- Man-made pollutants including oils and gasoline
It is incumbent upon all Americans to treat our water sources and systems with respect. Consider that our federal government "permits every business and industry in the United States to dump 33 pounds of hazardous wastes into public sewers every month with no reporting requirements. Within our medical systems, there are 21,000 pharmaceuticals, 1360 unique drugs, and 175 high potency steroids." Without strict oversight, it is impossible to tell if industries in your geographical area are adhering to industrial waste management standards.
If you suspect water contamination, flooding, or sewage flow that may be damaging your home's structure and affecting the quality of your family's drinking water, contact AdvantaClean Moisture and Water Removal for solutions and preventive care that can protect the investment you've made in your health, your home, and your landscaping.
We specialize in sewage removal along with water damage and restoration from flooding or sewage backups. At AdvantaClean, we don't stop there. We provide a full range of solutions to increase the health of your family and the performance of your home systems including mold removal, air duct cleaning, and Radon testing.