Common Water Problems: pH Levels In Water
Do you have water problems? When you think of pH, you’re probably reminded of high school, learning about acids and bases. “pH” stands for “potential Hydrogen.” The pH scale goes from 0-14, 0 being the most “acidic,” and 14 being the most “basic.” A pH value of 7 is considered “neutral.” You probably also remember that water is neutral, at a pH value of about 7. Well, this is just the ideal. Your water should be at a pH of 7. That doesn’t mean it always is. This also means that if your water is anything other than a pH value of 7, you may have cause for concern.
Another very important term to know when talking about water is “alkaline.” Substances with high pH values, or bases, do not dissolve in water, but they do neutralize acids. Most bases are not water-soluble. The ones that are are called alkali. This means that any water that is high in pH is “alkaline.” Water that is higher in alkaline is more capable of handling changes in pH, because the alkali in the water will neutralize acidity.
Water typically ranges from pH levels of 5-8.5, depending on whether it is surface water, or groundwater. You geography students shouldn’t need any more explanation. For everyone else, this translates to whether your water comes from the earth’s surface (i.e. a stream, lake, river, or reservoir), or whether your water flows or seeps into the ground (i.e. water stored in the “water table, in soil or rock).
Ever notice blue/green staining on your fixtures? If your water is below pH 6.5, your water is acidic, and potentially corrosive. This leads to major problems such as the corrosion of metals, in turn leading to incidents such as iron, zinc, copper, or lead contaminating your water. Besides the water being too acidic and corrosive, the only real harm is the water corroding and damaging pipes, leading to toxic metals ending up in your water. This, as we know, is a huge problem.
The same goes for water that is too alkaline. That is, having a pH value significantly higher than pH 7. Again, this water will taste and smell funny, but is otherwise mostly aesthetically unpleasant. However, similar to acidic water, highly alkaline water can affect plumbing. While water that is too acidic will corrode pipes, water that is too alkaline can cause scaly deposits.
Now, keep in mind that water that is extremely alkaline or acidic, waters with a pH of 1 or 14, for example, will in fact have negative health effects. These can cause skin, eye, and mucous membrane irritation. When consumed, they are still mostly harmless, except of course when toxic metals are corroded into your water. But rest assured, your water is very, very unlikely to get this high or low in pH. According to the University of Massachusetts and the Water Systems Council, it’s basically impossible.
So, if your water tastes, looks, or smells strange, it may have a pH value that is too low, or too high. This alone is reason enough to request a water test. Best-case scenario, your water is too alkaline. Worst-case scenario, your water is too acidic, and you may be getting toxic metals in your water. Luckily, Westfair Water Systems offers free water testing in and around Westchester, NY. So don’t hesitate. Even if your water tastes, looks, and smells fine, if you haven’t had your residential water tested yet, schedule a free water analysis today.