Why are separate systems required to soften water and treat drinking water?

It all boils down (no pun intended) to the quality of the treated water. What's more important to you, the water that goes "on you" or the water that goes "in you?" Most people would answer that the water they consume is more important. That's why most people that choose to purchase water treatment equipment further refine their drinking water with a separate system.

Typically, a water conditioner is placed at the point where the water enters the home so it can soften (remove dissolved hardness minerals from) all the water distributed throughout the house. That's how a water conditioner protects your water heater, water-using appliances, plumbing, sinks, bathtubs, faucets and other things.

A drinking water system normally services a special faucet at the kitchen sink and further treats (reduces a large number of dissolved solids in) only the water you use for drinking and food preparation. It would be a waste to refine all of the water used in the home to drinking water quality. Treating drinking water at the point of use reduces the cost of the system.

Combination systems that address both kinds of water treatment needs are available. They typically offer the two systems in one complete, compact package.

Learn more about our residential water treatment products or request a free water analysis.

How can I find more information about Kinetico?

Just about everything you'd want to know about Kinetico is right here at www.kinetico.com! Look around, learn more about water, take a tour of Kinetico's international headquarters, ask a water expert a question and more!

If you still have more questions, contact our Water Treatment Specialist. We'll be happy to help!

How to Determine the Quality of Your Water?

There are a number of problems that can affect the quality of the water you drink. Surprisingly, some contaminated water can look clean and clear at a glance. But just because water looks good, doesn't mean that it is.

The only way to be certain what's in your water is to have it tested. Water treatment professionals can perform on-site tests, direct your water sample to certified laboratories for more advanced testing and help you decipher the results. If you are supplied with water by a local water utility, you can request the results they've recorded from government mandated tests for a variety of contaminants.

While bad odors, unusual colors or metallic tastes usually indicate a drinking water problem, some go undetected. Lead is tasteless, odorless, and colorless and can find its way into your water via soldered pipe connections. Lead-based solder was used in homes built as recently as the late 1980s.

Even though cities generally use chlorine to disinfect water to prevent illness and disease, chlorination is not a foolproof disinfection method. Unexpected outbreaks of certain microorganisms can still occur. Cryptosporidium, a waterborne parasite, caused several hundred thousand people to become ill in Milwaukee in April, 1993. And although it's disinfected, city water may encounter contaminants once it leaves the treatment plant and travels through miles of distribution lines before it reaches your home.

What can I find in my drinking water?

The most common drinking water quality complaints, because they are easily identifiable and often leave water aesthetically unappealing, include:

  • Chlorine Taste/Odor generally caused by chlorine used to disinfect water supplies.
  • Musty, Earthy, Fishy Tastes/Odors caused by algae, molds and bacteria that live in water and can multiply within a home's plumbing system
  • Cloudiness/Turbidity results from suspended particles or sediment.
  • "Rotten Egg" Smell comes from hydrogen sulfide in water.
  • Color linked to decaying organic matter (tannins) and metals such as iron.

Other problems that cannot be easily identified include:

  • Chlorine Byproducts created when chlorine reacts with other substances in water.
  • Toxic Metals metals such as mercury and lead.
  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) include commercial chemicals and pesticides.
  • Microorganisms include cysts, bacteria and viruses that can live in water.

The above contaminants are not necessarily in your water. The only way to be certain is to have your water tested.

What Options are there for Improving Water quality?

The good news is that there are a number of options available for improving your drinking water.

Carbon Filters
Activated carbon can reduce chlorine, VOCs, tastes, odors and, in some cases, lead. Carbon filters are available in a wide variety of sizes and styles, from small units that can be attached to the end of a faucet to in-line systems that must be connected to a home's plumbing. Filter cartridges must be changed regularly to ensure optimum contaminant reduction. Some systems eliminate guesswork by alerting you when a filter change is necessary.

Distillation Systems
Distillation systems boil water to reduce contaminants, then condense the steam that results and collect the water in a storage tank. Since certain substances don't vaporize, they don't rise with the steam. These units operate independently from a home's plumbing and are generally placed at the point of water use. Distillers can use a lot of energy, may radiate heat and must be cleaned regularly.

Ultraviolet Systems (UV)
UV systems destroy microorganisms by exposing them to intense ultraviolet light. Since they disinfect water rather than remove contaminants, UV systems are usually installed with other filters. They are ineffective in water that's cloudy, however, and constantly use electricity. Bulbs must be changed regularly for the systems to function properly.

Reverse Osmosis (RO)
Systems Systems are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control as one of the most effective ways of protecting residential drinking water. They utilize a semipermeable membrane to reduce contaminants. When water is forced against the membrane, a portion of it passes through, while impurities are left behind to be carried away.

Reverse osmosis is effective against dissolved salts, suspended solids, dissolved chemicals and a wide variety of other contaminants that cannot be seen by the naked eye. When choosing an RO system, look for a unit with a high recovery rate (recovery rate = amount of water produced divided by amount of water used). Generally, a rate of 25% is considered efficient. Certain systems also employ a membrane rinse feature that cleans the membrane with the clean water produced by the system to prolong its life and ensure that it continues to produce only the best quality water.

Why is it Important to choose Certified Products

Be sure that the system you choose is third-party certified by NSF International or the Water Quality Association (WQA). Remember that displaying the WQA logo may only signify that the company is a member of the Water Quality Association, not that its products are validated. And just because a product is NSF certified against some contaminants doesn't mean it protects you against all of them. Check to see that the system you choose is specifically certified to reduce the contaminants from which you wish to protect your family. Also, be wary of systems that carry only the NSF "component" certification, which indicates that only a single component of the system is certified and may not reflect overall system capabilities.

How can I protect myself and my family from lead in drinking water?

Drinking water generally contracts lead from plumbing that has been connected with lead solder (outlawed in 1986) or from outdated water distribution lines. There are a number of things you can do to reduce the risk of lead in your drinking water:

Some sources suggest running your tap water for a couple of minutes before filling a glass to flush any accumulated lead from the water line (lead dissolves into standing water over time). This isn't a foolproof solution, however, since there is no way of knowing whether all of the lead has been removed and since lead can still dissolve into running water. Never use hot tap water to prepare drinks or meals. Hot water attracts more lead than cold water does. If you need hot water, heat cold tap water on the stove or in a microwave. In their informational brochure, "Living Lead Free," the American Water Works Association recommends having your water tested for lead to find out whether you should take action. Your local Kinetico water expert can have your water analyzed by a laboratory and help you decipher the results. Use a carbon drinking water filter or reverse osmosis system that has been certified to protect your drinking water from lead. Check that the manufacturer's claims have been verified by the Water Quality Association or NSF International; not all systems are certified for lead reduction.

I prefer bottled water. Is it the best alternative to my tap water?

Bottled water is a good alternative if you would like better tasting water for drinking and cooking, but it can be expensive and a hassle to carry from the store. Because it is inconvenient to do so, you may not use it for everything you should, including drinks and recipes.

It's generally less expensive in the long run to use a home drinking water system. Drinking water systems are convenient and provide you with high quality water in your own home when you want it, at prices per gallon that are considerably lower than bottled water.

There are many options available. Check to see that the system you choose is certified to protect you from a wide variety of contaminants and that the manufacturer's claims have been verified by the Water Quality Association or NSF International.

Don't water filters remove important minerals from my water?

Studies have found that minerals in your drinking water essentially make no contribution to your health and may even be present in forms your body can't absorb. Unfortunately, the myth that drinking water with minerals is healthy is perpetuated by companies that promote "mineral water."

In fact, the Water Quality Association, the trade association of the water treatment industry, prohibits health claims in any of its members' literature and advertising.

Learn more about our residential water treatment products or request a free water analysis.

It feels like I can't get the soap off when I wash with soft water. Why does soft water feel "slimy" when I wash my hands in it?

When you wash in soft water, you feel your skin the way it's supposed to feel, clean and silky smooth. According to the U.C. Berkely Wellness Letter, when you wash in hard water, the soap you're using reacts with the hardness minerals in the water "to form an insoluble residue that's difficult to wash away." The "squeaky" feel/sound many people associate with being clean is, in fact, your skin sticking because of this residue.

Soft water rinses your skin and hair more cleanly than hard water and doesn't leave a soap or shampoo residue behind. People that use soft water consistently enjoy the "truly clean" feeling they get when washing with it.

Is soft water bad for my septic system?

According to a report issued by the Water Quality Research Council, water softeners do not have any detrimental effect on septic systems and may actually enhance their performance in certain situations by encouraging the growth of additional bacteria.

In fact, the flow from the softener is typically less than the waste water discharged from an automatic washing machine. The studies credited the high levels of calcium and magnesium present (in the flow that results when the softener cleans itself) with improving soil percolation in many instances.

The studies were conducted by scientists at the University of Wisconsin – Madison and the National Sanitation Foundation.

Doesn't my city supply me with soft water?

Your city water supplier is not required to provide you with soft water. Many municipalities reduce the amount of hardness to some degree. But according to the U.S. Geological Survey, 85 percent of American homes are still supplied with hard water. Your city is required to provide you with water test results that show water hardness; just call the number on your water bill. Compare the figure they give you to the Water Quality Association hardness classification system to see if you have hard water

Many people that use city water choose to soften it to save money on soaps and cleaners, protect their plumbing systems from scale buildup, protect their water using appliances from hard water scale, provide better water for bathing and eliminate hard water spots, among other things.

What's causing these ugly orange stains in my sinks and bathtubs?

Iron in your water is the most likely culprit. It stains faucets, sinks, bathtubs, countertops, appliances and even clothing. You can usually remove the iron with a home water conditioner.

In some instances, iron is present in such large amounts that a multi-stage filtration system is necessary to remove it. But don't fret; your problem may appear worse than it really is. Iron in even small amounts can cause staining.

My tap water smells like rotten eggs. What causes that? Can it be fixed?

It smells like you have a problem with Hydrogen Sulfide in your water. Water absorbs this gas as it passes through the ground. When you turn on your faucet, you actually vent the gas from your tap water.

Hydrogen sulfide can be treated with oxidation and filtration. Oxidation turns the gas into elemental sulfur which can then be removed via filtration. Normally, an aeration system injects air into the water to oxidize the gas. The water then passes through a filter that removes the sulfur. The result is water free of the "rotten egg" smell you describe.

How can I tell if the product I'm purchasing will do what it's supposed to do?

Be sure that the system you choose is third-party certified by NSF International or the Water Quality Association (WQA). Remember that displaying the WQA logo may only signify that the company is a member of the Water Quality Association, not that its products are validated. And just because a product is NSF certified against some contaminants doesn't mean it protects you against all of them. Check to see that the system you choose is specifically certified to reduce the contaminants from which you wish to protect your family. Also, be wary of systems that carry only the NSF "component" certification, which indicates that only a single component of the system is certified and may not reflect overall system capabilities.

Check publications you trust for reviews of water treatment products. They can provide you with additional information that can help you make a decision. You may also want to rely on popular home improvement shows to provide you with information on the latest technologies.

Learn more about our residential water treatment products or request a free water analysis.