Plumbing and Water Safety
How safe is it to drink the water from your tap, and how does the plumbing system in your home affect the quality of the drinking water piped to you? Is water acceptable for drinking? Let’s examine the various piping systems used in plumbing and what to look out for to ensure that your plumbing system remains healthy, keeping your family healthy.
Over the past years, many people have become extremely concerned with the safety of drinking water in the home, and quite rightfully so, as poor sanitation can be the greatest cause of poor health and the spread of infectious diseases through bacteria. Some of the factors that influence the safety of a plumbing system in bringing clean water, include the design of the plumbing system, whether it was properly installed, if alterations were made, that they were made correctly and what maintenance must be observed in order to keep everything functioning correctly.
Another factor to consider in the safety of your drinking water is the types of pipes used in the plumbing system. Each pipe plays a different role, and they each have positive attributes and weaknesses to be aware of. Let us examine some of these differences:
Due to the corrosive nature of steel pipes, they are coated inside with molten zinc. While this will provide protection from corrosion for some time, they will eventually corrode over time. If you have galvanized pipes, and you begin to taste a metallic flavor in your water, be aware that the molten zinc used often contains lead. This is obviously harmful to humans to drink, and it is advised that the pipes be examined by a plumber. Also look out for:
· discoloration of the water
· blockages (due to build-ups in the pipes)
· high levels of zinc or iron in the water
Copper pipes, unfortunately, contaminate water with copper, especially newer pipes. This is because copper naturally develops a coating over time, preventing the water from being contaminated. If water is stagnant in the pipes for a few hours, it is best to run the taps for 30 – 60 seconds before drinking the water. This water can, of course, be used for activities, like washing dishes or cleaning floors. Copper is more easily dissolved in hot water, and it is recommended that water is used from the cold tap and warmed in the kettle or stove rather than being taken from the hot tap, as this will have more copper from the pipes than the cold water.
Being the more dangerous of the heavy metals to consume, lead detected in your water supply must be addressed quickly for health reasons. The lead that is present in water is a clear indication that there is a serious corrosion problem in the pipes. Some older houses may still have lead pipes, however, lead is most commonly used as to connect your home’s pipes to the service lines, or as a soldering to connect copper pipes together. Lead can also be present in brass taps and chrome plated brass taps.
Safe plumbing techniques and materials have been a major contributing factor to better health in the general population. Contaminated water can lead to serious health problems. Ensuring a plumbing system is correctly installed and operating in the way it is intended to, should be done by a qualified plumbing professional. Ensuring that your plumbing is in good condition, is an investment in your health and comfort.