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Why My Water Tastes Bad: Chlorine, Chloramines, Disinfection Byproducts

Eric Roy @ Tuesday, April 9, 2019 at 10:14 pm -0400


While most people talk about chlorinated tap water, a growing number of municipalities are implementing an alternative disinfectant - chloramines – in place of chlorine. This article on chloramines vs. chlorine discusses the advantages and disadvantages of both disinfectants, why municipalities are switching to chloramines, and what this means from a water filtration standpoint.

Chlorine: The Original Method For Tap Water Disinfection

Chlorine was the original disinfectant used in U.S. municipalities, with Jersey City being the first city to implement a chlorine-based system in 1908. Still today, chlorine remains the primary disinfectant in the majority of municipalities in the U.S., because of its effectiveness and low cost. While tap water disinfection using chlorine has a long track record, there are two major downsides to using chlorine as a disinfectant altogether:

  1. Chlorine is volatile and can escape from tap water as it travels through water mains, which can eliminate the “chlorine residual.” Without residual chlorine, water becomes more susceptible to microbial growth.  
  2. Chlorine can react with naturally-occurring organic compounds, creating what are known as disinfection by-products (DBPs) which are associated with kidney and liver problems.

Chloramines: A "New" Alternative to Chlorine

Chloramines are an alternative disinfectant that has gained popularity with a growing number of municipalities (including Washington, D.C.) because they directly address the two major problems with chlorine-based disinfection:
  1. Chloramines are less volatile than chlorine, so they stay in the water longer than chlorine, which ensures that all areas of the distribution network are properly disinfected.
  2. As the EPA began to learn about the toxicity of DBPs, they began searching for an alternative disinfectant for chlorine. Chloramines are less reactive with naturally-occurring organic matter, so it produces lesser amounts of DBPs. 

Despite these advantages, chloramines aren't without their own shortcomings.  For example, when a municipality switches over to a chloramine-based system to comply with DBP regulations, the level of pipe corrosion inhibitor needs to be increased, because chloramine-treated water is more corrosive than chlorine-treated water. Washington, D.C. did not properly do this when they switched over to a chloramine-based disinfection system in the early 2000s, and the city underwent a 5-year lead contamination crisis where more than 42,000 children under the age of 2 were exposed to high levels of lead, putting them under great health risk.

Even when pipe corrosion is properly accounted for, chloramines must be removed from the water when it is being used for dialysis, aquariums, baking, and even craft brewing (maybe you didn't burn your mash after all!).
 

What Can I Do to Remove Chlorine & Chloramines From My Tap Water?

Removing chlorine and chloramines from water involve different methods:

Fortunately, chlorine is very easy to remove from tap water to improve the taste.   For example, if you fill a water jug and leave it in your fridge uncapped, within a day or two, the chlorine will volatilize and go away. Common filtration pitchers, refrigerator pitchers, and under sink filtration systems are also good for removing chlorine from water and the bad taste associated with it.

Chloramines, on the other hand are much harder to filter, and most “big name” water filters are not designed to remove them. A special type of activated carbon, called catalytic carbon, is the best type of filtration media for removing chloramines from water. High quality water filters that use catalytic carbon in their filter formulation also offer broad protection against other contaminants in drinking water.


Can Hydroviv Filters Be Used In Apartments & Condos?

Water Nerds @ Saturday, April 13, 2019 at 10:19 am -0400

Just because you live in an apartment or condo doesn’t mean that you should be forced to use ineffective pitcher or fridge filters. This article talks about the things that we took into account when designing Hydroviv's Under Sink Water Filter so it can be used by anyone!

Universal Connections

Most people can't or don’t want to change out their kitchen’s fixtures, so you’ll want to make sure that your water filter connects to the existing faucet and cold water valve with universal faucet connections. All faucets in the US use a 3/8” compression fitting to connect to the cold-water shutoff valve, so make sure that the inlet and outlets use that size connection.

Size

Many apartments and condos in cities like New York City or Washington, DC have smaller under sink spaces than what are found in larger homes. When you are shopping for water filters, you’ll need to take size into account, especially if your unit has a garbage disposal that takes up a bunch of space under your sink. Most reverse osmosis systems are bulky and have large storage tanks, and will not fit under the sink of many apartments. The compact design of Hydroviv's Under Sink Water Filter is small enough to be used in the smallest spaces!

Deposit Considerations

Many water filtration systems for apartments require that you drill a hole in your drain line, or that you drill a hole in your counter top. Obviously, if you do either of those things, you won’t get your deposit back, so most people don’t opt for reverse osmosis systems that require a drilled connection to your drain. Hydroviv's Under Sink Water Filter connects directly to your existing faucet, using screw-on, screw-off connections.

Portability

If you're not sure that you'll be at your place forever, you'll want to make sure that the water filter can move with you. Make sure that your apartment water filter uninstalls very easily, so you don’t leave it behind in the frantic move out!

Hydroviv’s Under Sink Water Filters are engineered with people who live in apartments and condos in mind. It’s a no-compromise water filter (filters things like lead, PFAS, and chromium 6), but it’s designed for small spaces. Its housing fits in small spaces and connects to existing faucets with screw on, screw off connections in 15 minutes. No plumbing experience needed, and we provide an easy water filter installation guide to help you along the way. When it’s time to move, Hydroviv apartment water filters can be pulled in about 5 minutes, and the unit’s plumbing can be put back to how it was when you got there.