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Well Water – Odor, Taste, and Stain Pains

June 29, 2018

Well Water Odor Taste and Stain PainsIt is undeniable that water is essential to human health and well-being. When your water supply comes from a private well instead of a public source it is your responsibility to protect the quality of that water. Maine has a very high well water population, with an estimated 57% of homeowners relying on private wells. This makes homeowner education for measuring water quality and implementing required corrections so important to preserving the biggest financial investment most families make – the Family Home.

With well water comes a variety of elements that can cause physical effects we see, taste, and smell. These noticeable nuisances do not necessarily pose an immediate risk to our health, but they can impact the lifespan of many home necessities we count on each day. There are some common elements in our Maine well water that at certain levels lead to aesthetic, cosmetic, and technical effects. The most common elements are pH, hydrogen sulfide, and total dissolved solids. All of these elements are classified by the EPA as secondary contaminants because they are known to cause undesirable physical effects.

Water pH levels are measured on a scale of 1 to 14 with a normal range being 6.5 to 8.5. Low pH, less than 6.5, is considered acidic. Acidic water can corrode metals from pipes or fixtures, causing damage to plumbing, a sour taste, laundry staining, and blue-green stains in drains. Water pH above 8.5 indicates a high level of alkaline. Alkaline water can cause problems such as bitter coffee taste, scale build up in plumbing, and lower efficiency of electric water heaters. There are a number of whole house treatment options that use calcite or anion media to correct pH imbalance.

Hydrogen sulfide is a gas that can occur in your well water and cause odor issues. Underground the gas remains trapped within the water. When water is pumped from your well to the plumbing system, then dispensed from a hot or cold water outlet, the gas odor escapes. The smell of hydrogen sulfide gas is best described as a musty, swampy, or rotten egg odor. There are a number of water treatment options to correct this concern including carbon aeration filters. Please note, if odor is only detected when hot water is dispensed it is most likely the magnesium control rod in the electric hot water heater. This magnesium rod can chemically convert naturally occurring water sulfates into hydrogen sulfide gas, so consult your heating professional for modification options for hot water only odor concerns.

Total dissolved solids (TDS) is used as an indicator on a lab water test to determine the general quality of the water. The “dissolved solids” commonly known to cause physical non-health related effects to our water experience are iron, manganese, water hardness and sodium chlorides. Elevated levels of iron can cause rusty colored staining of laundry, porcelain, dishes, utensils, glassware, and a metallic water taste. Manganese acts in a similar way causing a brownish black stain. Soaps or detergents do not remove these stains and use of chlorine bleach may actually intensify the stains. Water hardness is something you may have felt the last time you washed your hands because after using soap it leaves a film residue. Hard water residue is not dangerous but is unsightly causing mineral buildup in appliances, spotting on glassware, and a variety of skin irritations. When hard water is heated, solid deposits of calcium can form reducing equipment life, heating efficiency and clogging pipes. There are a number of water softener options that will remove iron, manganese, and hard water concerns. High amounts of sodium chloride cause a salty water taste, leave white deposits on fixtures, and over time are highly corrosive to plumbing, appliances, and water heaters. Reverse Osmosis is the recommended approach to correcting elevated sodium chlorides in a well water supply.

If you find yourself relating to any of these issues, it might be time to test your well water. The good news is there are plenty of resources and proven solutions available to correct all water nuisance concerns in Maine well water.

The team at Dunbar Water Mr.H2O is happy to help and provides a number of services that include testing, analysis, and treatment solutions. Our number one priority is community education, so contact us as needed with water qualty questions or guidance on the right treatment solution. Home health relies on the quality of the water that runs through it and testing is the only way to know so call Dunbar Water for a FREE water analysis. For more information, visit: or call 1-866-426-2273.