By May 26, 2011

Hard water in a hard place

I scrunched up my face.

“Did we not wash these glasses?” I said to Sedagive? while pouring my water into the sink.

“We did. Why do you ask?”

“This water tastes like shit.”

So naive just six months ago when I moved to Minnesota. The water here tastes terrible, and no amount of filtering with a Brita can help it. I was spoiled in Virginia, Maryland, and Oregon.

I decided to do an experiment. I’d filter a pitcher of tap water and then fill up a glass. I let the water evaporate from the glass naturally and see what was left.

Here ya go. Keep in mind this was processed with a fairly new Brita filter.

http://gallery.drfaulken.com/d/10357-2/IMG_6765.jpg

As you can see, there is a haze of deposits all throughout the glass.

http://gallery.drfaulken.com/d/10354-2/IMG_6768.jpg

This is the picture that really turned my stomach, though:

http://gallery.drfaulken.com/d/10361-2/IMG_6766.jpg

I am pretty sure that black stuff is from things falling into the water, but holy shit. We are drinking this amount of sediment and debris every glass. I drink about four liters of water a day, and probably a half pot of coffee a day. All of the coffee and about 1/3 of my water consumption comes from the water here at the house. That seems like a lot of sediment to consume every day.

Even if we solve the tap water problem in the kitchen sink, what do we do for the rest of the house? What is this doing to our dogs and our clothes? I know that the water deposits have taken a toll on our Bunn coffee maker; I wonder what the water sediment is doing to the heating element.

Blech. I hate to do it, but it looks like we may to start paying for drinking water.

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12 Comments on "Hard water in a hard place"

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  1. Tachyon says:

    DrF, do you have a water softener? Seems like you might want something like that, or some other full-house type filter.
    They’re pretty common here in Iowa, my roommate bought a new construction house and it came with one (the water in our area is pretty bad too)

  2. DrFaulken says:

    Hi Tachyon — thanks for the comment! I forgot to mention this, but the house does have a whole-house water softener. We keep it properly stocked.

  3. Jenner says:

    35 years ago when I lived just south of Boston, MA, the city reservoir was about half a mile (downhill) from a major freeway. In the winter they salted the roads, so the whole town water supply tasted like some salt brine, but the worst was the summer, when it tasted like rubber from the tires and I’m sure oil and asbestos from brakes and whatever else. It was like drinking water out of a Uniroyal. Back then people would notice such but for some reason it didn’t worry about it and we actually drank it.

  4. Ed says:

    Hmm, I think you are assuming to much good will here Doc. Lets look at the facts –

    1) You move out to the sticks (Sedagive family near there)

    2) The water tastes bad

    3) You post about life insurance

    4) Sedagive is the one that washes the glasses (your post indicates this)

    There can be only one true answer to this. Poison!

    I applaud her cleverness!

  5. Adam says:

    Ah yes. I believe you might also be experiencing Minneapolis’ springtime “fish” water. Every spring, for a few weeks, until the city can get it under control, there is an algae bloom that affects the taste of the tap water. I tasted it once when I was up visiting my girlfriend. It’s pretty awful, but the city says it’s still safe to drink.

  6. Kevin says:

    Are you in Minneapolis or one of the suburbs?

    Adam is right; the springtime water here is kind of gross, but after the algae thing gets under control the tap water is great. I have to admit that I haven’t noticed it at all this year, however.

    The water I’ve had in the suburbs is gross all the time.

  7. DrFaulken says:

    We’re out in the suburbs here, but my friends in the metro area also buy bottled water.

  8. Ted says:

    You can take a sample of your water to a plumber for testing. Once they find out what is in there, they can design a filtration system to remove it.

  9. Brice says:

    Well, a lot of the deposits you are seeing there are from the water softener. A water softener merely strips out the dissolved solids in your water by replacing them with salt ions. If you want clean drinking water, get an Reverse Osmosis system for under your sink. You can’t afford one for doing the whole house, but a drinking water tap isn’t any more expensive than your water softener. And for the record, it’s not sediment if you had to evaporate all the water off. Sediment falls out of suspension on it’s own.

    Do it yourself RO systems that are worth a damn run $350-$500. With about $100 a year filter cost. Let me know if you want more information.

  10. DrFaulken says:

    Hi Brice!

    If you wouldn’t mind sending me an email about reverse osmosis systems that would be great (drfaulken!at!gmail!dot!com) with no ! anywhere in the address.

    Also, is it something that we could remove once our lease is up and take with us to the next house? I imagine so, but you never know.

    Lastly, is the right word “particulate” instead of “sediment?”

  11. BigDubb says:

    The water is a city/county issue. I’m positive the water in the southern sticks tastes different from the water in Minneapsolis or the water in other suburbs. Reverse osmosis will work, but can be expensive. If its just for drinking I’d suggest getting Culligan. One of the best purchases we’ve made for our house.

    Finally, making a generalization about the water for a state based on one experience in the southern sticks doesn’t seem justified to me. IMHO.

  12. Roger says:

    I live in Arkansas, in the NW area. I used to live out in the country, and we had well water. For over 15 years we had good water until my sister got sick from bacteria coming from the drinking water. Even using every kind of filterations there is we had to start buying bottled water for drinking and buying city water for bathing, etc. I moved into town, two years ago and still won’t drink the water from the tap.

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