Help! My Tap Water May Be Contaminated

Glass filled with drinking water from kitchen faucet.

When you turn on the tap in your Central Pennsylvania home, you expect pristine water to flow from your faucet, shower head, or into your washing machine.  

Your water generally is safe to use and drink, especially if you are among the 90 percent of Americans who get their water from a community or municipal system. Your water supplier must comply with safe water drinking standards and issue a water quality report every year. 

However, that does not mean your water supply in Harrisburg always will be clean and safe for drinking, bathing, cooking, and washing. Improperly treated water or poorly maintained pipes can lead to water contamination.

Filtering out chemicals, bacteria, parasites, viruses, sewage, dirt, and harmful minerals from your tap water is key to keeping you safe and healthy.  

Our qualified professionals at H.L. Bowman Inc can help you get ahead of the problem with proactive solutions for your plumbing system. We have a 76-year track record in the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) industry. We assist customers in Harrisburg with their HVAC equipment, in addition to plumbing and indoor air quality (IAQ) needs. 

Tap Water Gone Bad

According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), American tap water is relatively safe, but contamination can happen. Sewage, naturally occurring chemicals like radon, pesticides, fertilizers, manufacturing processes, a failing onsite septic system, poorly maintained pipes, and insufficient water treatment are among the causes of contamination.

The health department likely will issue a water advisory if the community supply is tainted. It may tell you, for example, to boil water during or after a flood because of a sewage overflow. It may recommend you stop consuming tap water because of excessive chemicals or minerals, such as lead, found in the water supply source. 

However, it does not alert you to contaminants caused by deteriorating pipes in your Harrisburg home or a malfunctioning septic tank on your property. You may not realize the supply line to your home is damaged or that land-use practices in the neighborhood have contributed to polluted water. 

Is Your Water Contaminated?

Color, odor, and taste can be clues to the state of your tap water Blue-green colors in water or stains in fixtures could indicate excessive copper, possibly from corroded pipes. Iron or rust from iron pipes may cause red or orange water. The odor of rotten eggs points to sulfides, and a salty taste indicates chloride. If your water smells like your backyard pool, the odor is from chloride. 

These are just a few indicators. Your sense may not detect the contaminant, but your body will react to it.

You will not see, taste, or smell lead in your water, but constant exposure can damage the nervous system, red blood cells, and kidneys. Bacteria, including E.coli, and parasites such as Giardia, could find their way into your water through eroding pipes and cause gastrointestinal issues. 

If you suspect your water is tainted, consider having it tested so you can pinpoint what is in your water.  Our licensed plumbers at H.L. Bowman can recommend a water treatment system that suits your specific needs. 

Treatment Systems

Whole-house systems, also called point-of-entry, clean the water as it enters your home. It treats all water used in your home, not just the flow specific taps. 

  • A filtration system captures contaminants with filters that absorb the offending gas, liquid, or particles. Our experts at H.L. Bowman can recommend the kind of filter needed to remove the specific contaminants from your water. 
  • Reverse osmosis uses pressure to force water through a semi-permeable membrane that filters out contaminants. This system can remove bacteria and other pathogens, along with some chemicals and minerals. Reverse osmosis systems are available for your entire home or for a specific area, such as the tap at your kitchen sink.  
  • Ultraviolet (UV) lights coupled with filters effectively kill bacteria and viruses.
  • Water softeners remove calcium and magnesium, minerals that make water “hard” but do not reduce other contaminants such as bacteria. You can use both a water softener and a filtration system or a reverse osmosis system to ensure softened pure water flows from every fixture and faucet. 

Decontaminate Your Water

At H.L. Bowman, we can help you bring only clean water into your Harrisburg, PA, home. Call us at 717-561-1206 or request service online.

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