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What To Do About Acidic Well Water

What To Do About Acidic Well Water


The EPA regulates the quality of drinking water from public water systems, but does not regulate water coming from private wells, which is where 15% of people in the US get their drinking water. [1] If you get your drinking water from a private well, the EPA recommends that you get your well water tested once a year by a certified laboratory to ensure that it is safe for drinking.

A common issue that you may uncover when you get your well water tested is that it’s acidic. But what does it mean to have acidic well water? And how do you fix it?

What Is Acidic Well Water?

The pH of water is a description of how acidic or basic the water is; pH is a unitless measurement that ranges from 0 (the most acidic) to 14 (the most basic). The EPA recommends that drinking water maintain a pH between 6.5 and 8.5 in order to prevent the negative impacts that excessively high or low pH can cause. [2] Acidic water can cause corrosion and a bitter, metallic taste while basic water can have a slippery feel, a baking soda-like taste and can leave white deposits on your fixtures and appliances (because basic water often has high hardness). [3]

What Are The Indications That My Water is Acidic?

If you have acidic drinking water, you may notice some of these issues [4]:

  • Bitter, metallic taste of water

  • Reddish-brown color of water

  • Reddish stains on iron fixtures

  • Blue-green stains on copper fixtures

  • Plumbing leaks

These issues all result from corrosion of your pipes and plumbing system.

What Does Acidic Water Mean For My Health?

Acidic water by itself doesn’t cause any health problems. However, the corrosion of your plumbing may release toxic heavy metals, like lead and copper, that have harmful effects.[5], [6]

Why Is My Well Water Acidic?

It is likely that your well water is acidic due to the natural erosion of the soil and minerals that the groundwater passes through before it arrives at your well. [4]

What Can I Do About Acidic Well Water?

There are two common treatment methods for correcting acidic well water: neutralizing filters and neutralizing solutions [4].

Neutralizing filter

A neutralizing filter reduces the pH of water, or neutralizes it, by passing it through calcium or magnesium minerals that raise the pH of the water. Some common minerals contained in neutralizing filters include calcite (marble chips), limestone (calcium carbonate), and magnesia (magnesium oxide). There are a few things you need to pay attention to if you install a neutralizing filter:

  • They require backwashing periodically in order to remove solid particles that get stuck in the filter. Some pretreatment is recommended to remove bigger particles before the water reaches the filter.

  • The filter media (the calcium or magnesium mineral) needs to be replaced regularly because the water dissolves it as it flows through the filter.

  • The filter will increase the hardness of your water because it is adding calcium and/or magnesium. Make sure to get your water tested to make sure that the filter isn’t causing your water to be ‘hard’, which means that the hardness is over 120 PPM as CaCO3 which can make it difficult for soap to lather and result in white deposits on fixtures and appliances.

Neutralizing solution

An alternative to a neutralizing filter is to feed a solution of soda ash (sodium carbonate) into your water. This method is appropriate for higher volumes of water and can be a good option for water that also requires disinfection because the soda ash can be mixed in the same container with the disinfectant (likely sodium hypochlorite aka bleach).

The first step in determining if you have acidic well water is to get your water tested. Tap Score’s team of water quality engineers, treatment experts, and chemists are standing by to help figure out your next steps and answer any questions you may have about your water. Send them a message any time:

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