You just got back your water test and found out that your water has high pH. What should you do next?
What is Low pH?
What does it mean that your water has low pH? pH, or potential of hydrogen, measures the level of acid in a substance. High pH means your water is alkaline while low pH means your water is acidic.
The pH describes the hydrogen ion concentration in your water on a scale from 0 to 14. A pH of 7 would be neutral while a low pH drinking water is normally in the 6 to 6.5 range.
The EPA suggests your drinking water have a pH of 6.5 to 8.
Is Low pH Bad?
Having low pH in your water isn’t as bad as having heavy metals or something like that, but it’s worth understanding and possibly correcting.
Low pH can be naturally occurring or it may be because your drinking water is near a coal plant or out of use mining system. Flood plains and wetlands are also often acidic environments which can affect nearby drinking water.
Low pH in your water, when it’s at reasonable levels, isn’t necessarily bad for you but it can have negative effects.
The main health problem resulting from low pH water is that it can leach metals from your pipes and the water delivery system before your home. What this means is that lead, copper, and other minerals which would be stable in the pipes at a neutral pH (close to 7) could get pulled out of those same pipes at lower pH levels.
The water in Flint, Michigan, had been stable at a pH of 8 for a long time, but it sudden lowered to 7.3 in August 2013. This wasn’t necessarily a very low pH, but it was low enough to cause a problem with the water delivery system there. This system has a large amount of lead in its pipes so the lead levels drastically increased when the water source was changed to a lower pH one. These levels wouldn’t necessarily be a problem in most homes or water systems, but it’s instructional to understand how a changing pH can affect the water.
How To Know Your pH Is Low
If you are reading this article you probably already know your water is acidic (or at least low pH) but it can still be worth confirming.
The best way to know this is to test your water. Testing for pH is cheap and easy, so any water test kit will work for you. You can also work with a local or municipal water testing service to check.
You can also see evidence in your house to check if your pH is low. You can observe this evidence by looking near your water fixtures: if you see blue green staining or blue green crust nearby, you have acidic water affecting your copper pipes.
Acidic water can also leech copper from the pipes and turn your water slightly blue-ish, especially in areas of your home where the water is not run very often. You won’t able to see this in a glass, but if you fill a tub and the water is blue-ish, it’s likely because of a combination of acidic water and copper pipes.
How To Fix Low pH In Water
The good news about all this is that low pH is easy to fix. To make a long story short, your water is too acidic and you want to make it more basic/alkaline. The water can be corrected with what is known as a neutralizer.
A water neutralizer is like a water filter, but instead of trying to filter out the acid, it adds materials to the water in order to neutralize it. The neutralizer will add calcite or limestone (scientifically known as calcium carbonate) to the water in order to raise the pH.
This process will actually make your water harder, but it won’t necessarily give you “hard” water. You can take another step in order to correct the resulting hardness, but that’s generally not necessarily if the neutralizer is done properly.
Assuming you have well water, you will have a well pump, a holding tank, and then a water heater, in that order. The neutralizer will go between the holding tank and the water heater, so that the acidic water won’t affect the pipes running through your house.
Neutralizing filters can range greatly in price depending on where you live and what sort of system you need. They will also vary in size based on how larger your home is and how many people live there. Expect to spend from $1000 to $2500 on a fully installed system, assuming you have a simple plumbing system in your home.