Here in our part of New England, it is common to have water with impurities, which, if left unchecked, will most certainly stain sinks and bathtubs, damage pipes and can even cause long term health problems.
“In our business, we often observe many types of problems,” said Bart Cushing, owner of Cushing and Sons Water Wells and Pump Systems and Aqua-Aid Systems in Keene. “The most common ones we see are iron, which can create brown stains, produce water that tastes like nails, and makes color-treated hair change color.
“Then there’s manganese, which creates black stains and smells like rotten eggs; and hard water, which clogs up on-demand water heaters within months, stops soap from creating suds and can also affect colored hair. Low pH, meaning acidic water, is also a problem, as it creates blue stains, rots the pipes and fixtures in your house, and can cause health problems.
“We also have radon, which is a health hazard in cases of long-term exposure, leading to lung cancer, and arsenic, which can cause bladder cancer, as well as various kinds of bacteria.
“Not everyone in this area has these problems, but I would say that a fair percentage have one or more of them. Although the health issues sound intimidating, most of our work is to rectify aesthetic problems.”
Cushing said that water filtration wasn’t originally a priority in his business, but circumstances forced his hand, and led to some restructuring within the company itself.
“Aqua-Aid is a division in our company that we set up in 1984 in recognition of a pervasive need," he said. “What we did before was to drill wells and put pumps in. If you had a water problem, we would end up putting in a conditioner. If that didn’t work out, we would come back and try to fix it.
“This became such a problem that we decided to set up a separate company, with dedicated employees who would know the product and how to set it up."
Changing economics have also created an intolerable situation, and Cushing said he had to take steps to make sure he was getting the best available equipment, particularly in their iron-removal systems.
“Our original supplier moved their headquarters to Barbados, and their factories out to China,” he said. “After that, the quality went down drastically, and we found ourselves doing six hours of rework for every 10 hours of installation.
“Obviously, this was something that just couldn’t continue, so we did a lot of research and interviewing prospective vendors and discovered that the patents our supplier had been using were outdated versions from a company called Hellenbrand, in Wisconsin, which is a small company with about 400 dealers.
“We then found out that, unlike our previous dealer, they were using brand-new technology, so the obvious decision was to switch over to them. Well, the results were immediate — the units use much less salt, and we don’t get any callbacks.”
Cushing also said that, as the average cost of a system can range anywhere between $3,000 and $19,500 on average, it’s extremely important that the customer has a reputable and reliable dealer.
“A lot of guys will come in and say, ‘well, you’ve got an iron problem, so I’ll fix you up with my super-duper gizmo that has rewritten the laws of chemistry,’ which often do not work, or if they do, for a limited amount of time.
“A reputable company will do detailed water testing of the components important to filter operation. If in doubt on a recommendation, using an independent third-party water testing lab can give the consumer peace of mind both in selection of equipment and the performance after installation. "
Cushing said that, depending on the problem, water treatment can cost many thousands of dollars, depending on concentration, pH and how much water is used in the home.
“For example, a small home requires a smaller system versus a 3.5-bathroom home," he said. “A prospective buyer should inquire as to the annual maintenance costs and consumables required to keep the unit operating.
“On wells contaminated with non-E.coli bacteria (bacteria from the intestinal tract, such as is found in sewage), ultra violet lights can be effective in eliminating bacteria, as these units literally have the water flowing across a UV light. Commonly, these are used for dug, surface-type wells.
“The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services has a number of fact sheets available on water conditioning and suggested state limits for minerals. While almost all water has some minerals in it, elevated levels of constituents are what we most commonly treat."
According to Cushing, doing your homework is the most important part of choosing a water filtration system. That way, you can save yourself a lot of money and headaches in the long run.
AquaAid Systems division of Cushing and Sons is at 631 Route 12 in Surry and can be reached at 352-8866. You can also visit their website at aquaaidsystems.com. To reach the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, call 271-3503 or visit des.nh.gov.