Is Your Home Water Treatment System (HWTS) As Good As Your HVAC System?

Is Your Home Water Treatment System (HWTS) As Good As Your HVAC System?
By Mark Timmons
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Is Your Home Water Treatment System (HWTS) As Good As Your HVAC System?

Unless you live in a part of the country where the weather is always hot or always pretty cold, you most likely have some type of Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) System.  In a modern home, that HVAC system may consist of the following components: 

  • Furnace 
  • Air Conditioner 
  • Humidifier 
  • Media Filter 
  • Electronic Air Cleaner or Ultraviolet Air Disinfection System 

That is exactly what I have in my home. In the Summer, when temperatures can reach 90 to 100 degrees, the air conditioner makes our home comfortable, while the Media Filter and Air Disinfection System keep the air fresh and clean. In the winter, when temperatures can get well below freezing, the Furnace provides the heat we need, but the air tends to be dry, and the Humidifier adds humidity to the air so that we can breathe easier. Finally, in the Winter, the Media Filter and Air Disinfection System keep the air fresh and clean. 

Just about every home in the USA has some type of HVAC system. Some are more sophisticated and detailed and in the Artic, maybe an air conditioner is not needed while in the tropics, a furnace is totally unnecessary. The point is: most homes do have an HVAC system and that system can vary dramatically, depending upon where you live. 

Home Water Treatment System (HWTS) 

But, what about your Home Water Treatment System (HWTS)?

 Is it on par with your HVAC System? In many cases, it is not. In fact, many people don't even consider having an HWTS a "thing." I am sad to say that while most people have an HVAC system, a home alarm system, and even a home entertainment system, that many homes do not have an HWTS. 

What is a Typical HWTS? 

 

The fact that the climate is different in various parts of the country is pretty clear to us all. What may be a little less clear is that water varies from state to state and region to region. We frequently see some severe water problems such as high levels of iron, manganese, and/or hydrogen sulfide in different parts of the country. However, these issues are "outliers," and 80% - 90% of the state does not have a massive problem with these issues.  

In just about every part of the country, the government uses chlorine or chloramine to disinfect the water so that it is "safe" to drink… at least in the bacterial sense. Chloramine is created when ammonia is added to chloramine. Many cities are now using chloramine because it is less costly in the long run since it is more stable as a disinfectant.  

The problem with chlorine or chloramine is that they combine with organics in the water and form trihalomethanes or THM's which are known carcinogens.  Now, before you become outraged and say, "Why would the city add something that can cause cancer?" I want you to consider the alternative.  In the early 1900s, the leading cause of death in the United States was cholera and typhoid. These are all waterborne diseases.  If you get cholera or typhoid, the chances of survival are not good.   

In 1908, Jersey City, New Jersey, became the first city in the United States to begin routine disinfection of community drinking water with chlorine. Over the next decade, thousands of cities and towns across the US followed suit and started disinfecting their drinking water. The result was a dramatic decrease in disease across the country.   

In 1900, the occurrence of typhoid fever was about 100 cases per 100,000 people. By 1920, it had decreased to 33.8 cases in 100,000 people. In 2006, the CDC reported that it had been reduced to 0.1 cases per 100,000 people. 

Chlorination has to be one of the greatest public health achievements of the 20th Century. When was the last time you heard of someone in the United States dying of cholera or typhoid?  In 2015, there were four cases of cholera and no deaths. Typhoid is more common, as there were about 5,700 cases in the U.S. in 2015, but it is rare that it is found in the water. 

The point is: Chlorination has eradicated cholera and typhoid as diseases in America. Chlorination is a very effective method in preventing these diseases. However, have you ever heard the saying, "Solve one problem and create another?"  

While effective at killing waterborne diseases, as I mentioned earlier, chlorine combines with organics in the water to form THMs, which are known carcinogens.  We solved one problem and created another. The thing is: cholera and/or typhoid will kill you with a quickness.  Drinking water that contains carcinogens takes years to develop problems. The data is not exact because water varies as to levels of chlorine and organics and some people are more sensitive to these chemicals than others. 

BODYGUARD WHOLE HOUSE CHEMICAL REMOVAL FILTER

The good news is that we do not have to drink or bathe in chlorinated water anymore.  Of course, it is obvious that ingesting water that contains chlorine is not a good thing.  The skin does not absorb actually chlorine well, but small amounts of chlorine can pass through the skin when individuals are exposed to water containing high levels of chlorine.  Also, chlorine may irritate or burn the skin, especially moist areas. 

The simple solution is carbon filtration.  Yes, a small cartridge filter can help, but only marginally.  The best method for removing chlorine and chloramine is with a tank containing a blend of granular activated carbon (GAC) and catalytic granular activated carbon (C-GAC), such as the Bodyguard Filter (pictured to the right). It takes a large tank so that the water has "prolonged contact" with the carbon. This prolonged contact allows the carbon to remove chlorine and/or chloramine effectively.  When in doubt, it is always better to go a little too big than a little too small. A carbon tank, such as The Bodyguard, will last for years, and the carbon may have to be replaced every five (5) years or so.  

Components Of A Typical HWTS :

  • A Pre-Filter – This is very useful in protecting the system and your plumbing from sand, silt, and sediment. Typically, a 5-micron filter is the best first barrier. 
  • A Carbon Tank - Chemicals, pesticides, chlorine, chloramine, tastes, and odors are common in many water supplies. A carbon filter can be extremely beneficial in removing all of those contaminants. 
  • Water Softener or Conditioner - In some areas, the water is hard and creates limescale, which increases hot water energy costs and damages plumbing and fixtures. Many people decide to use a water softener or salt-free water conditioner to fix this problem. 
  • Ultraviolet Disinfection - There is also the issue of bacteriological contamination. Whether you are on well or city water, bacteria can be an issue. This is usually handled with ultraviolet disinfection (UV).  
  • Reverse Osmosis - Finally, what about your drinking water? Some people buy bottled water, but more and more families make their own bottled water with an under sink Reverse Osmosis System.  

 

Why Ultraviolet? 

You might ask, "But why do I need ultraviolet disinfection if my city already uses chlorine or chlorine to disinfect the water?" That's a fair and good question, and here is the answer: Cities frequently have "boil alerts" because something has happened at the water treatment plant, and the water may not be properly disinfected.  Has that ever happened to you? What if you did not hear about it and drank the water?  UV protects you from those occurrences and any number of other possible bacterial contaminants. 

Also, here is a real-life problem that happened in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1994:  Cryptosporidium, which is a protozoan, found its way into Milwaukee’s water supply, and over 400,000 were sickened by the protozoan. At least 69 died as a result.  Again, ultraviolet disinfection systems protect you and your family from these problems. 

What Type of HWTS Do You Need? 

Systems can vary depending upon the part of the country you are in and what particular problems you may have.  However, we are learning much more about certain “emerging” contaminants, such as PFOA and PFAS, which are used in fighting fires and making surfaces “non-stick” such as cooking utensils, carpets, clothing, and any number of other products.  These are called “forever chemicals” because they never go away. 

Lab Water Test

Add in the fact that there is now 1, 4 Dioxane, Lead, THM, PCB, MTBE, and a plethora of other potentially harmful contaminants and you may begin to see why an HWTS is not a luxury, but rather a necessity. Solutions currently exist for these difficult water problems and we no longer have to speculate what is in our water.  There are a number of Lab Water Tests that provide us with a detailed water analysis.  

What type of system you get depends upon where you are located, what is in your water, and whether you have any health issues that could impact you or your family.  For example, healthy people may be able to tolerate certain levels of contaminants in the water, including some bacteria. However, others, such as the elderly, immune-compromised, infants, and others with autism and other conditions, may not be able to tolerate even a small amount of these contaminants. 

Of course, if you are on well water and have rotten-egg or sulfur smell or iron which causes ugly rusty stains on everything, you are going to solve those problems with a quickness.  I am going to suggest that while iron and sulfur can be a nuisance, other problems such as chemicals and bacteria are a much more real threat to you and your family's health.  

We have the technology to solve just about any water problem that you may have. Your HWTS should be an important part of your family’s life. Water is life, and there is no question that high-quality water will enhance all of our lives.  What you need in your home depends upon what is in your water supply and whether you want to “fix” it. The choice is yours! 

What follows are some common configurations for HWTS: 

City Water :

  • 5 Micron Magna Filter, BodyGuard Plus, 1 Micron Magna Filter, UV, Undersink RO 

5 Micron Magna Filter, BodyGuard Plus, Pioneer, 1 Micron Magna Filter, UV, Undersink RO

  • 5 Micron Magna Filter, BodyGuard Plus, Matrixx WS, 1 Micron Magna Filter, UV, Undersink RO 
  • 5 Micron Magna Filter, BodyGuard Plus, Matrixx WS, Pioneer, 1 Micron Magna Filter, UV, Undersink RO 
  • 5 Micron Magna Filter, BodyGuard, Green Wave, 1 Micron Magna, UV, Undersink RO 

Well Water :

  • 5 Micron Magna Filter, Oxi-Gen, 1 Micron Magna Filter, UV, Undersink RO 
  • 5 Micron Magna Filter, Oxi-Gen, Pioneer, 1 Micron Magna Filter, UV, Undersink RO 
  • 5 Micron Magna Filter, Oxi-Gen, Matrixx WS, 1 Micron Magna Filter, UV, Undersink RO 
  • 5 Micron Magna Filter, Oxi-Gen, Matrixx WS, Pioneer, 1 Micron Magna Filter, UV, Undersink RO 
  • 5 Micron Magna Filter, Oxi-Gen, Green Wave, 1 Micron Magna, UV, Undersink RO 

WHOLE HOUSE REVERSE OSMOSIS 

Some people with immune issues, chemical sensitivity, and other health problems opt for whole house reverse osmosis, which takes out the largest spectrum of contaminants of any water treatment process.  A typical whole-house ro systems looks like this: 

There is no “right” answer as to what type of HWTS you may need, It depends upon your own water quality, any health issues you may have, and your desire to have a certain water quality. A Certified Water Specialist of Master Water Specialist can help you decide what is right for you. Regardless of where you live or what you want, the place to start is with a good detailed Laboratory Water Analysis so that we know what exactly s in your water. That enables us to treat it properly. “Measure Twice – Cut Once” is never more true than when treating your water. 

November 5, 2020
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