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PH Adjusting and Corrosive Water

Water is a “Universal Solvent” Low PH is Very Aggressive

Understanding PH Adjusting and Corrosive water is not complicated. The corrosiveness of water is largely due to three factors; the pH, the amount of alkalinity, and the hardness of the water. Water in nature will be either acidic, neutral, or basic. pH is a measure of how acidic or basic the water is.

It is expressed as a number from 0 to 14. Neutral water, which is neither acidic or basic, has a pH of 7. As pH values decrease from 7 to 0, the acidity of the water increases; pH values from 7 to 14 show increasing basicity. Well water usually has a pH between 5 and 9.

Alkalinity is a measure of the water’s ability to neutralize acids and bases. It is mostly due to the amount of naturally occurring carbonate and bicarbonate compounds which have been dissolved by the water. Because the alkalinity can neutralize both acids and bases, it allows the water to maintain a stable pH. This process is known as buffering. Hardness is due to the amount of calcium and magnesium dissolved in the water.

“Hard” waters are less corrosive than “soft” waters. Hardness helps to prevent corrosion by adding to the buffering ability of the water and by forming a protective film on the pipe walls. For most domestic water, corrosion will be minimal when the pH is near neutral (7), the alkalinity is greater than 30 milligrams per liter (mg/1), and the hardness is more than 50 mg/l.

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Cause of Corrosive Water

The pH, alkalinity and hardness of a water are a result of the amounts and types of minerals dissolved into the water from the surrounding soils and rocks. Water’s natural acidity is caused by the presence of carbonic acid and carbon dioxide.

When the amount of alkalinity and hardness are low, the water cannot be neutralized and the soft water may attack any exposed metal surfaces.


Effects of Corrosive Water

Corrosive water will attack any exposed metal surface, slowly dissolving the metal into the water. Constant exposure to corrosive water will noticeably shorten the life of household plumbing, eventually causing pin-holes to appear in the pipes.

Corrosion will occur at any place in the water system where water contacts metal. This includes pipes, faucets, well casings, pressure tanks, and the well pump itself. With copper plumbing, corrosion will cause blue-green stains in sinks and tubs, and will give the water a bitter, medicinal taste.

The taste will be most noticeable when the water has been standing in the pipes for long periods of time, such as overnight. Anytime a taste is noticed, or when the water has been in contact with the plumbing for longer than six hours, the water should be allowed to run for several minutes before using. This flushes any metal-containing water from the pipes.

Corrosive (Acidic) Water

The corrosion of steel or galvanized metal will cause a rusty stain in fixtures, give the water a metallic taste, and may produce cloudy water on occasion. In addition to damaging the water system, corrosive water can also interfere with other water treatment. Iron and manganese cannot be easily removed from acidic water. In this case, the acidity must be neutralized prior to the iron removal treatment.

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Treatment of Corrosive Water

1. pH Adjusting:

This method uses a small metering pump and mixing tank. The metering pump adds small amounts of a mixture of soda ash and water to the well water whenever the well pump is running. The soda ash (sodium carbonate) raises the pH and the alkalinity of the well water, chemically neutralizing the acidity. The use of soda ash will not increase the hardness of the water.

However, this method can be used with almost any pH level. The above treatment method typically what is done to bottled water after it been stripped by an RO is the owner is interested in tricking the public a little! I don’t like it at all… manipulating the public to a large degree. (OK bottled water guys, don’t email me… you know exactly what I am saying)

2. Neutralizing Filters:

These are essentially a pressurized tank containing a filter bed of calcium carbonate or calcite. As the acidic water passes through the filter, the carbonic acid and carbon dioxide combine with the calcium carbonate neutralizing the acidity.

Because the filter bed is composed of a calcium compound, neutralizing filters will increase the hardness of the water, as well as increase the pH and alkalinity. Neutralizing filters work best at a pH between 6 and 7. If the pH is between 5 and 6, a magnesium oxide must be added to the filter bed to adequately neutralize the acidity.
They should not be used with a pH below 5. Neutralizing filters must be backwashed periodically to remove sediments trapped within the filter bed. Most manufacturers offer both a manually operated and an automatic backwash cycle.

3. Polyphosphates (Micromet, Shan-No-Coor, etc.):

These compounds deposit a protective layer on exposed metal surfaces. They do not change the acidity of the water. Polyphosphates work best within a pH range of 6.8 to 7.4. It may take as long as eight weeks for the protective coating to form.

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Water Testing FAQ

A: If your drinking water comes from a private well in the Fraser Valley, water testing should be done by a certified water testing lab near you to see your drinking water us safe for you and your family to drink and prepare food. Drinking unsafe drinking water can make people sick. Even if you’re not currently sick, your well water may be unsafe.  Some contaminants found in well water can cause long-term health issues.

A: All purveyors of certified water systems in the Fraser Valley and throughout British Columbia are required to test the water regularly.

This includes including small private systems, such as shared wells, restaurants or trailer parks, cooperatively owned systems, such as strata properties, and larger municipal systems owned by local governments.

A: If you own a private well in the Fraser Valley, it’s important to have your well water tested to determine if your water is safe to drink. Just because your neighbor’s water well has been tested and found to be safe this is not an indication that your water is also safe, all Fraser Valley water wells should be tested at least once a year and some more often.

Remember, the safety of your well water depends on surface and underground geology, the depth and construction of the well. Even deep drilled wells can be susceptible to contamination if surface water enters the well from the top of the well or from surface fractures in the rock or a leaking and even damaged casing.

It’s important to note that a water test report will only tell you about the quality of your water on the day that you draw the sample. Well water quality can also be seasonal. Heavy rain, melting snow, drought, floods or other events such as seasonal land-use may cause contamination. Water wells need to be tested on a regular basis, maintain a file for the water test reports for future reference.

A: What is the difference between the Canadian Drinking Water Guidelines and Canadian Drinking Water Standards?

Canadian Drinking Water Standard – a mandatory limit that must not be exceeded; drinking water standards often indicate a legal duty or obligation.

Canadian Drinking Water Guideline – a recommended limit that should not be exceeded; guidelines are not intended to be standards of practice, or indicate a legal duty or obligation, but in certain circumstances they could assist in evaluation and improvement.

A: There can be many harmful substances that you cannot taste, see or smell, such as bacteria and chemicals that could affect your health.

Contaminates can enter a well water both from the surface and ground and can be from natural sources or human activities.

For example, nearby farming and agricultural activities or septic systems, if built or maintained improperly, could lead to increased nitrates and fertilizers seeping into soil and contaminating your well water, even deep drilled wells.

The lack of good water well maintenance may also cause contamination of your Fraser Valley Well Water.

A: There are 2 categories of water tests for well water:

1. Bacteriological Water Testing
2. Chemical Water Testing

Bacteriological Water Testing

Bacteriological testing should be done 2 or 3 times a year. Two common types of bacteria found in water are: Total Coliforms and E.coli.

Total Coliforms

Total Coliforms include bacteria found in soil, surface water, and the intestinal tracts of animals. Finding total coliforms in a well may not mean that the water is unsafe to drink, but does indicate:

1) The well may require improved sanitation or physical upgrades
2) The well may be subject to surface contamination

Escherichia coli (E. coli)

E. coli originates in the intestinal tracts of animals. The presence of E. coli in your well water may mean fecal matter has entered the well. Fecal organisms cause stomach and intestinal illnesses, including diarrhea and nausea, and may even lead to death. Babies, children, elderly or people with immune deficiencies or other illnesses may be affected more severely.
E. coli in your drinking water is an immediate health concern and the water is not safe to drink.
For more information, see the British Columbia Ministry of Environment’s fact sheet on Total, Fecal & E. coli Bacteria in Groundwater 

Chemical Testing

Testing water for chemicals should be done on a routine basis, typically at a minimum of every 5 years. Chemicals commonly of concern in the Fraser Valley’s groundwater resources are: nitrates, fluoride and metals such as arsenic, lead, copper and manganese.


High levels of nitrates have been found in numerous wells throughout the Fraser Valley. This usually occurs in areas where groundwater may be contaminated by surface activities such as agriculture or farming, drilled wells can be susceptible but shallow wells are especially vulnerable to nitrate contamination.


Since well water comes from the underground, different metals in the soil and rock can leach or dissolved into the water. Some metals, such as arsenic can have serious and long-term health effects if they are found in high amounts.

A: Local Water Well Pros drillers are educated and certified under the BC well drillers apprenticeship program must abide by or exceed the water well drilling regulations for British Columbia.

A: Arsenic is known to cause cancer, as well as many other serious health problems. Arsenic levels tend to be higher in drinking water that comes from groundwater sources, such as water wells, as opposed to water from surface sources, such as lakes or reservoirs.

Arsenic is a natural element that can be found in rocks and soil, water, air, and in plants and animals. It can also be released into the environment from some agricultural and industrial sources.

Other metals such as lead, and copper can also leach out of pipes and soldered joints. Water of low PH will typically be much more aggressive. For some, but not all metals, you may notice taste, odor, or staining of fixtures.

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