Understanding Your Test Results

Please take a moment to understand your water test results.

In order as they appear on your analysis, with the issues highlighted, we have listed the parameter results your water sample was analyzed for with explanations as to how they’re measured, their causes, symptoms, long term impact to your plumbing, household investment and wellbeing and possible treatment method(s).


Measured on a scale from 0-14 where 0 is acidic, 7 is neutral and desirable and 14 is most basic.
Desirable range is 6.8 – 8.3
Caused by natural amounts of atmospheric carbon dioxide (Co2) that is dissolved in the water.
How – Rain falls through an atmosphere with a very soluble carbon dioxide. The two immediately combine to make carbonic acid. Note: Acid rain is different; it needs airborne sulfur (air pollution) to create a pH of rain at 4.8 or less. As pH drops, the corrosiveness index increases logarithmically. I.e. A pH value of 5 is 10 times more corrosive than water with a pH value of 6. Limestone is the natural buffer to low pH. As water passes through geology with limestone, pH increases as the low pH groundwater slowly dissolves raising the water’s pH and hardness.
This geological region is particularly void of limestone explaining the frequency and intensity of low pH conditions in groundwater. There are also pockets like oyster beds within the geology that can spike pH too high. This unusual but natural occurrence is almost always treated with a distilled white vinegar solution feed system.
Symptoms of low pH issues include blue/green fixture stains, pinhole leaks in copper plumbing, premature water heater failures and the like.
Long term impact of this potentially catastrophic condition slowly disintegrates most all and particularly copper components of any plumbing system. Plastic plumbing is not immune as that leaves the fewer remaining metal components in fittings and faucets even more vulnerable,and can make plastic plumbing brittle over time.
Treatment of this condition may take the form of an automatic backwashing neutralizing filter with one or more forms of processed limestone (sacrificial processed media specifically for water treatment) within the tank that when slowly dissolved in water, it will create harder water.
For extreme conditions, ongoing dispensing of a soda ash (calcium carbonate) solution corrects the condition without hardening the water.


Measured in parts per million (ppm). Suggested limit is 1.3 ppm but any amount suggests treatment as its intensity is relative to the waters low pH and exposure time to the metal such as sitting overnight in copper plumbing lines v. quickly passing through supply lines.
Caused most frequently by copper plumbing and components exposed to low pH waters where the copper becomes soluble. A second possible, much and sometimes rarer puzzling cause can be a very small amount of stray electricity from a low grade short in household electric circuitry grounded to and through the plumbing supply.
Symptoms just like low pH, are the blue/green stains associated with copper and failed plumbing components.
Long term impact of exposure to humans can first invite gastrointestinal distress and overtime cause liver and kidney damage.
Treatment for water caused issues copy that of low pH conditions. Electrically caused symptoms can be stopped by finding the short (not an easy task) and/or make use of dielectric unions to isolate the stray voltage.


Measured in grains per gallon (gpg) where 1 grain is equal to 17.1 ppm. 0 – 3.5 gpg = soft, 3.5 – 9.0 = moderate, 9.0 and up = hard. For reference, local public water supplies deliver 3 – 8 grains of hardness to their consumers.
Caused by natural dissolved rock (magnesium and calcium carbonates – limestone) is in the water supply.
Symptoms include the build-up of white/gray scale or crust on glass surfaces, shower doors and the like.
Long term impact causes complete water heater failures, poor soap suds, dull hair and skin and shortens the life of clothing and fabrics.
This condition only gets worse over time.
Treatment usually takes the form of a clock or meter initiated automatic water softener. Salt is the regenerant for water softener media (resin) and it works by exchanging calcium and magnesium carbonates ions built up on the resin for sodium ions in the salt. FYI, water softeners do not add salt to the water. Under normal conditions, they add the same amount of sodium as 4 slices of bread to 8 glasses of water.
Lastly, if the hard water is free of metals we may recommend an electronic conditioner a much less expensive means of correction.


Measured in ppm where the suggested limit or action level is 0.30 ppm.
Caused by water passing through geology containing iron in various quantities, the most abundant metal on the planet, and picking up its characteristics.
Symptoms included with taste and odor, it’s visible as unappealing red/brown/olive/yellow/orange stains or colored water. It can be completely or partially dissolved in water and can assume several forms. Ferric Iron is visible, stains, adds color to water fallout in a body of water that’s allowed to stand. Ferrous iron is invisible and completely dissolved in clear water but shows up later as stains and possible fallout. Colloidal iron colors water and is rarer as exists as particles not much larger than the molecules themselves.
Long term impact can be quite destructive as it can ruin laundry, clog plumbing lines and clog important sensing lines that cause well pump or system failure.
If allowed to go unmitigated it can provide a food source for iron bacteria to colonize. It’s listed next.
Treatment takes many forms depending on the totality of the water chemistry. It will have automated features, some form of oxidation and a designed filter media possessing either catalytic or regenerative properties that includes water softeners.

Iron Bacteria

Measured as positive or negative subjectively checked for visible indications. Comingled red threads under a microscope. This is a non-pathogenic organism but an organism none the less so its treated like a bacteria.
Caused by too much iron (a food source) in the water and an environment present for it to flourish.
Symptoms include brown splotchy laundry stains, a mucus like growth around the inside toilet tank at water level. (toilet tank additives will hide symptom)
Long term impact is the same as impact of iron listed above.
Treatment uses much the same methods as iron but requires some form of disinfectant like chlorine as well.


Measured in ppm – where the suggested limit is 0.050 ppm
Cause it’s right next to iron on the periodical chart of the elements, and usually seen in geological rock formations with iron in varying ratios.
Symptoms This metal behaves much like iron with occurrences of darker brown/black stains that take longer to appear and need more scrubbing to remove.
Long term impact while similar to iron, is somewhat less intense. Heavy amounts can appear as though someone sprayed flat black paint in a dishwasher.
Treatment Many methods used for iron removal will also address manganese pending the totality of the waters chemistry. Softeners can be very effective. A much rarer forum of manganese bacteria is a possibility in extreme conditions.


Measured by subjective observations at the sample collection site and the users experience related to us. It’s also termed hydrogen sulfide formation. Lab tests are dubious as the contaminant is a gas that has likely aspirated to atmosphere before the sample gets to any lab.
Causes are too numerous to count here. Sulfates, present in all ground water can form from many different circumstances and conditions.
Symptoms are unmistakable as sulfur is the common mineral with an associated odor akin to rotten eggs. It is corrosive in high amounts but just a very small amount is enough to find water offensive. While its odor occurs in cold water supplies, it’s generally more easily noticed on the hot side of the water supply that uses electric water heaters. Remember, all chemical reactions occur faster as heat is applied. The current state of a water heater can certainly have an impact on what you smell. Electric water heaters come with provisions to prevent its formation but this is a point where you want help. Sulfur can manifest itself at a single faucet or at a certain time of day or intermittent occurrence as it may also fade as water is used.
Long term impact is negligible other than the constant nuisance is presents to you, your laundry and guests. Extreme concentrations can cause much plumbing corrosion.
Treatment parallels the methods relied on for iron and manganese including necessary oxidation and/or disinfection.


Measured in ppm with a suggested limit of 1.5 ppm
Caused by water passing through layers of vegetation in various stages of decay that inhibits water treatment methods if not addressed.
Symptoms A commonly overlooked parameter in our business, can behave similarly to the way tea creates color in your drink but slows oxidation of contaminants which is the opposite effect we want when correcting quality issues.
Long term impact if unidentified and unaddressed, it inhibits the efficiency of many treatment systems. Leaves water with marshy color, tastes and odor.
Treatment in this region requires disinfection practices and an automatic filter with blended media.


Measured in ppm with a suggested limit 500 ppm. but some may detect by taste its presence at 400 ppm or less.
Caused by water passing though geology containing chlorides and sulfates (salts). Natural salt domes within our local geology have occurred from local, early geological events.
Symptoms include a thick or salty taste to the water. It’s mostly unpalatable for consumption.
Long term impact behaves as you would expect diluted sea water to behave. It will have continued poor taste and low level corrosion to plumbing.
Treatment for this condition is limited to Reverse Osmosis (RO) only. RO can be accomplished with point of entry (whole house) or point of use (Kitchen tap) systems. Reverse osmosis works by pushing water at high pressure through the length of a membrane. This is all done on a molecular level so outputs of RO systems are usually sized by gallons per day output. It takes about 4 gallons of raw water to make 1 gallon of suitably treated water.


Measured Subjectively and described.
Caused by substances collectively in solution usually metals, sediment, dirt and the like.
Symptoms as contaminants dissolve; they impart their color to the water supply.
Long term impact Colored water may cause fixture stains over time.
Treatment that addresses most of the contaminants list above will certainly treat waters’ color.


Measured Subjectively identified and described.
Caused by geological rock structure particulates between layers and within water bearing veins and includes microscopic observations of non-soluble contaminants in water to include rock solids, oxidized metals fallout, vegetation, insects, algae and the like.
Symptoms Build–up of sediment that will clog most plumbing at choke points.
Long term impact can ruin most plumbing systems, sink faucets, laundry connections, well pumps and their controls, instant hot water heaters, etc.
Treatment Most all automatic treatment methods used easily and efficiently handle most all un-dissolved solids and sediment.


Measured Again, subjectively identified and described. Best info comes from the site description as there are no practical lab tests for odors.
Caused by odiferous gases from a water supply that would rather aspirate to the atmosphere against remaining in a liquid state.
Symptoms are self-evident.
Long term impact is hard to describe as some get used to it.
Treatment Again, as other odor causing contaminants are eliminated so too is the odor.

Total Chlorine

Measured in ppm, it represents the full amount of chlorine in a given sample. Some will be stable and some will be consumed by oxidation or disinfection.
Caused by man and chlorines’ ability to provide organism and disease free water safe for consumption.
Symptoms Too much will cause chlorine odor, not enough will render many treatment processes incomplete.
Long term impact too much attacks rubber seals and gaskets of plumbing fixtures and can dry skin and hair.
Treatment Since it’s usually part of a treatment process if removal is desired or necessary, activated carbon filtration is the best method.

Free Chlorine

Measured in ppm. it’s represents the amount of chlorine left over after a process where there is more chlorine than contaminant present.
Caused by man and chlorines’ ability to provide organism and disease free water safe for consumption.
Symptoms Too much will cause chlorine odor and degrade plumbing as described in total chlorine.
Long term impact too much attacks rubber seals and gaskets of plumbing fixtures and can dry skin and hair.
Treatment Again, usually a part of a treatment process, if removal is desired or necessary activated carbon is the best method.

Total coliform & E. coli

Measured Expressed as present or absent from dedicated bacteriological analysis, not part of mineral this test.
Caused by potentially pathogenic (sickness causing) organisms present in drinking water.
Symptoms include simultaneous nausea and diarrhea.
Long term impact can be devastating to human health particularly young, old and infirmed.
Treatment requires well inspection, possible up-grades and disinfection using UV or chlorine.

Curtis Drilling 2014-08-21 042Don’t hesitate to call me for more information!

Glenn Tiedman
Curtis Drilling, Inc.
Water Treatment Division