National Water Quality Month in August draws attention to the importance of clean water in our homes and environment. Water contaminants such as bacteria and nitrates can cause serious health issues and damage water systems. Follow these tips to learn more about water quality issues, and steps you can take to protect your home and health.

Signs of Poor Water Quality to Look Out For

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Drinking water contaminated with toxic substances can lead to gastrointestinal illnesses and other serious issues such as cancer. If you or your family members regularly experience gastrointestinal-related symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea, it could be an indication of exposure to poor water quality. Not all signs are health related, however. Cloudiness in water, or change in color, smell, or taste can also be a more subtle indication of poor water quality.

If you notice any symptoms or changes in your water, contact a professional for water quality testing immediately.

What Can Water Quality Testing Detect?

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Yearly water quality testing is the best way to identify issues early and protect your home and family. A professional will take water quality samples and provide a detailed report of findings in partnership with accredited labs. Here are some of the items water quality testing can check for:

  • Microorganisms testing looks for presence of E. coli and coliform bacteria in water which can indicate your water system has been contaminated with pathogens.
  • Inorganic chemicals and metals such as arsenic, lead, and nitrate can be found in water pipes and systems. They can cause issues such as, heart issues, high blood pressure, kidney problems, and shortness of breath.
  • Physical characteristics of water including color, hardness, and turbidity. Hardness is caused by dissolved magnesium and calcium ions. It is generally not dangerous but can impact your plumbing, fixtures, and cause irritation. Turbidity is a measure of water clarity. High turbidity indicates greater amount of dissolved and/or suspended matter in water and increased likelihood of disease-causing microorganisms such as viruses, parasites, and some bacteria.

How to Reduce Poor Water Quality In Your Home

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There are a few easy steps you can take inside your own home to reduce water pollution while protecting your health and water systems.

  • Use a water filter. A water filter can help eliminate contaminants from your water. A Whole-Home-Water Filtration System can also can extend the lifespan of your water-using appliances, fixtures, and pipes. For best results follow manufacturer guidelines and replace the filter as directed.
  • Clean faucet aerators. Aerators are small mesh screens commonly found at the tip of indoor faucets. Regular cleaning can help reduce bacteria buildup and improve water quality.
  • Use cold water for cooking and drinking. Contaminants and bacteria can dissolve into hot water, leading to poorer water quality than colder water.
  • Have water heater drained annually. Draining water heater at least one a year can help remove metals, sediments, and bacteria from your home water system.
  • Flush pipes. Run water through pipes for at least two minutes after vacations or periods of inactivity to clean out stagnant water.

Protecting Against Water Pollution In Your Community

Reducing water pollution can also help improve water quality for everyone. Here are a few easy ways to help your community keep water healthy!

  • Use non-toxic household products. Look for cleaning and other home products that are "green" and non-toxic, especially for any products that will go down your drains.
  • Use regular soap. Many antibacterial soaps contain a registered pesticide. Check the ingredients prior to purchase, or use standard soap and water to wash your hands.
  • Don’t flush out-of-date medications. Instead find a local pharmacy that offers on-site medicine drop-off boxes or mail-back programs.
  • Pick up pet waste. Pet waste contains harmful organisms like e. coli, salmonella, and giardia. Throwing away waste instead of letting it get into the water can keep waterways healthier.
  • Avoid using pesticides. When choosing fertilizer for your lawn, make sure it is phosphorus-free.
  • Don’t overwater your lawn and garden. This will keep excess water from carrying harmful fertilizers and pesticides to waterways.
  • Visit a car wash instead of washing your car at home. Professional car washes drain runoff into sewer systems, whereas when you wash your car at home you may be flushing chemicals down the storm drains that flow into our lakes and streams.
  • Fix leaks on your vehicle. If you notice chemical leaks in your vehicle, fixing them quickly can reduce the amount of contaminants getting into the groundwater.

Clean, safe water is a necessity for each and every household and regular water quality testing is the best way to ensure the health and safety of your family. By monitoring our water quality and making small changes, we can all do our part to keep our water supply safe free of harmful contaminants. Contact a WIN Home Inspector near you to schedule your home’s water quality test today!