Detecting impurities in drinking water requires technical analysis. Taste has nothing to do with it.
Three types of impurities that require different types of testing:
Physical impurities: Soil, sand, or clay. Biological impurities: Bacteria and other microorganisms from nearby sewers or other unsanitary water sources.
Chemical impurities: PCB, chloride, or pesticides from nearby landfills, industrial sites, etc.. See water quality for more information.
How to test: If your water is supplied by a public water company, call the utility and ask them to test it. They should come to your home. If you doubt their results, request a look at the analysis. Check it against the minimum standards available from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
To test private well water, call the local health department. It generally has test facilities. However, their testing facilities are usually restricted to biological impurities. If you are concerned about chemical impurities, it costs a few hundred dollars to get a sample tested at a private laboratory.
Reason to test: A landfill or industrial site near your well. Otherwise, such contamination is rare. If you are near such a site, the hydrology of the area (which way the water flows) may make it possible for you to live as close as a block away from the source of pollution and still have clean water.
If the water does prove to have impurities, the bacterial ones are easiest to solve. Boiling water destroys these microorganisms. Alternatives: Clean or disinfect the well.
Chemical problems are tougher to solve.
Consult the EPA. You may have to use bottled water. Chemical impurities sometimes flush out of the well or soil with proper rainfall and treatment. However, it can take years.
The EPA does not recommend the use of water filters, which usually use carbon filters to purify water and to alleviate these problems. It's hard to tell when the carbon no longer functions. When that happens, a sudden buildup of pollutants can get into the water, and bacteria can slough off the filter
Tap Water Danger Signals: Check the color of your water to find clues to its quality.
Green stains in your sink or toilet are a sign of higher- than-normal levels of copper which may cause kidney problems. Brown stains may mean that there are high levels of iron in your water.
Common Plumbing Problems And Solutions: Hot water problems:
Too long a wait. The tap may be too far away from the water heater. Cures: Either let the water run until hot, or have a small plug-in water heater installed near the tap.
Shortage. The water heater may be too small for your family's needs. The thermostat may be set too low, or it may not be operating.
Rusty. Could be caused by corrosion to the tank. More likely: Silt or mud has accumulated in the tank bottom. Clue: Tank rumbles. Cure:
Turn off the heater, drain, and refill.
It doesn't flush completely. The flush ball in the tank isn't being lifted high enough. Cure:
Adjust the lift mechanism so it pulls the ball higher.
Tank won't refill. The flush ball isn't fitting correctly into the outlet. Cure: Adjust the rod guide.
Condensation on the tank. Insulate the tank's interior with a liner. Bonus: This reduces the amount of flush water needed.
Water "runs" after toilet refills. Cures: Align the flush ball with the outlet, and lower the float level setting. Also: Check the outlet for leaks.
How To Minimize Flood Damage: Flooded basements can be "good." If a flood reaches your property, water inside will equalize underground pressure outside and prevent collapse of the basement walls. Don't pump out the basement until the flood re-cedes.
If you have no second floor: Remember, water inside a building often gets no higher than two or three feet. Use high shelves for valuables (including furnace motor).
Keep underground fuel tank full. Otherwise, it can buoy up to the surface, causing foundation walls to collapse. (If no fuel is available, fill the tank with water.)
Selecting A Watchdog: Depending on the amount of time you are willing to spend training the dog and your available space, some breeds you should consider are:
German shepherds: They are the best big watchdogs and are highly intelligent. They need a large outdoor area and lots of exercise.
Airedale terriers: Fine watchdogs, but they may become aggressive if mistreated. They are gentle with children.
Terriers in general: Best small watchdogs.
They will bark at anything out of the ordinary and attack anything that upsets them, regardless of the odds.
Doberman pinschers and Russian wolfhounds: Generally, they are too aggressive for home guard duty. Tough to train, they suffer from one-owner syndrome. (They usually obey only one family member and ignore or even menace the others.)
Pointers, setters, spaniels: Obedient but too passive for watchdogs.
Dachshunds: Aggressive and loud, they're surprisingly effective.
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