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3 Ways Your Plumbing System Can Negatively Affect Your Well-Being

by Erik Evans

Your home's plumbing system has operated without a hitch for the past several years. For this reason, you haven't bothered to spend much time or money on plumbing maintenance. However, even though your plumbing system isn't flooding your basement or losing water pressure, it may still be developing problems that affect your personal health. Here are three issues with your plumbing system that will affect your well-being:

Mineral Content

Although the majority of the minerals in your water supply are filtered at your local water treatment plant, magnesium, calcium, and limestone are still present in the water that flows through your faucets and shower heads. In moderate concentrations, these minerals are not hazardous to your health. However, when a large concentration of these minerals are present in your water supply, they can easily cause skin irritation and (when ingested) kidney problems for certain members of your household.

The primary mineral in your tap water that causes skin irritation is calcium bicarbonate. This mineral is hygroscopic, which means it absorbs moisture. By regularly washing or bathing in hard water that contains a high concentration of calcium bicarbonate, you will make your skin feel dry and itchy. Severe skin problems such as eczema are exacerbated by the presence of calcium bicarbonate as well.

You can reduce the mineral content of your home water supply by installing either a whole-house water treatment system or a point-of-use filter on your shower heads or primary faucets.

Bacterial Growth

Your water heater is, without a doubt, the most important appliance in your home. Without it, several daily tasks become extremely difficult or inefficient. However, if you have a poorly-maintained water tank, then it may be filled with bacteria capable of causing severe medical issues for you and the other members of your household. The water stored in your water tank serves as a perfect breeding environment for several types of bacteria—if it isn't set to the right temperature.

The most troublesome bacteria that will grow in your water tank is Legionella. Legionella bacteria are responsible for causing Legionnaire's disease, which causes symptoms such as coughing, breathing difficulty, and frequent headaches. However, preventing bacteria growth in your water tank isn't as simple as turning up your thermostat. In addition to ensuring that your thermostat is set to at least 55 degrees Celsius (the temperature at which Legionella bacteria are killed), you must also ensure that your water heater's heating components operate properly. If one of your elements is malfunctioning, or if your burner assembly has been damaged by corrosion, then your water heater won't be able to properly heat your water tank.

The high temperature required to kill Legionella bacteria may cause scalding to young or elderly members of your household. If you're worried about scalding, then consider adjusting your water mixer or installing a scald prevention device to maintain the safety of your household members.  

Sewer Gas

Everyone has experienced that terrible, rotten smell that wafts out of sewers and plumbing vents. This scent is caused by hydrogen sulfide—a gas byproduct that consists of sulfur bacteria.

Hydrogen sulfide is created by two main sources: the decomposition of organic matter, and boiling mineral scale within your water tank. Although this gas isn't harmful at moderate concentrations, it can be dangerous if it accumulates within confined areas of your home.

Hydrogen sulfide released from decomposing matter can enter your home through sink traps and ventilation pipes that aren't installed correctly. The gas created from boiling mineral scale within your water tank will enter your home through your faucets and water fixtures. Reinstalling your sink traps and ventilation pipes or replacing your water heater will prevent hydrogen sulfide gas from wafting into your home.

If any of these three issues is affecting your health or well-being, then either perform the necessary repairs yourself or hire a plumber from a company like The Drain Doctor to perform them for you. If you let these issues persist, then the health of you and your household members will continue to be negatively affected by your plumbing system.