By treating or conditioning well or tap water, homeowners may be able to remove most contaminants with the potential of causing negative short- and long-term health problems. In addition, nuisance problems such as water that stains or has a bad odor, taste, or hardness can be eliminated. By talking to your water supplier, local health department, and your licensed plumber, and by testing your water for the appropriate contaminants, you should get a comprehensive picture of the quality of your drinking water. But before purchasing any water treatment devices, please consider the following suggestions.

Facts to Consider Before Treating Your Water

Many water supply problems can be controlled or eliminated by using a variety of drinking water treatment devices. Before proceeding with the selection process, several facts should be considered.

* If a Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) Is Exceeded, Consult Your Health Department.

MCLs are health-based standards and you may be assuming additional risk if you continue to drink the water. Young children and infants are particularly susceptible. SMCLs are aesthetic standards.

* Always Retest To Ensure You Have A Problem.

It is always good practice to have your water retested to ensure accuracy in sampling and in the laboratory.The second test should be done by a different laboratory to confirm results.

* Consult With A Water-Quality Expert And/Or Your Local Health Department.

When you are certain you have a particular contamination problem, consult with an INDEPENDENT water-quality expert, and NOT the water treatment salesman. These individuals should be familiar with the preferred local treatment methods in your area. Recent and historical water data should be reviewed by an expert to determine which processes are appropriate. The local health official or DEP may also be consulted if uncertainties arise.

* Consider Alternatives

Availability and cost of public water supplies or other alternatives including deeper private wells should be considered. If the home unit is preferred, then consider the use of a whole-house, faucet, or line-bypass unit. Bottled water may also be an alternative. When you have more than one water-quality problem,
choosing a treatment device is more complex. Many times you cannot treat one problem without treating an other first. In many cases, two problems can be
eliminated with one treatment or the treatment method itself causes a problem.

* Select Unit
After choosing a treatment process, select a unit to install. Criteria for unit selection may include field experience, independent evaluations by the National
Sanitation Foundation and the Water Quality Association, equipment safeguards, maintenance requirements, initial and ongoing costs, and warranties or performance guaranteed by the dealer.

* Field Test
Equipment reliability and performance can best be determined by field testing. Field data can help to determine a monitoring program.

* Purchase and Install

Using reputable dealers, licensed plumbers, and certified installers should ensure that the device will perform according to specifications and warranties.

* Monitor and Maintain

Safe operation of a home treatment unit requires monitoring and maintenance by an independent third party. While the above approach costs money not typically included in the purchase and installation price, the consumer should receive a safer product if this approach is followed.