Is your water safe to drink?
Did you know that Australia has Drinking Water Guidelines? It has over 250 directions and specifications that water utility companies must follow!
But if there is a funny taste, colour, or smell coming from your tap, here are three ways to make sure your water is safe to drink.
Our tap water is safely treated to ensure that any water contamination does not pose threats to public health. Generally, most Australians don't have to worry about getting sick from the water they drink.
Know what is normal
In Melbourne, our water is treated by local water treatment facilities. Below is a map of the water treatment plants in the Greater Melbourne Area.
While the colour of your water may change from time to time, most changes are normal and safe. We have listed some common water changes below.
- Your water has changed colour and does not clear after running the tap for a few minutes. You should check if there is planned maintenance on the pipes in your area. Check the Yarra Valley Water faults map here. Another cause may be that your hot water service needs repairing or replacing, especially if your unit is older than 7-10 years. Contact your local plumber to ensure your hot water unit is in good order.
- Your water has black specks in it. This can be caused by the rubbers from your tap washers or o-rings wearing out. Legally, you can change your own washers, but if you get stuck, you can call your plumber for assistance.
- Your water smells or tastes like chlorine. Small amounts of chlorine are added to your drinking water as part of the water treatment process. Usually, this is not noticeable enough to taste. If you can taste chlorine, you can put a jug of water on the bench and allow it to sit for an hour, or put it in the fridge over night.
- Your water is cloudy. Cloudy water is just tiny air bubbles caused by water of different temperatures entering the water system. This is completely natural, particularly in the warmer months. The cloudiness should clear in a few seconds.
- Your water is red or brown. More than likely this is rust entering the water stream from corrosion in your points. See point two below on how this can happen and what needs to be done to fix it.
Check your materials
Galvanized pipes are steel pipes that have been dipped in a protective zinc coating to prevent corrosion and rust. These types of piping were commonly installed in homes built before the 1960s.
The galvanized pipe was invented as an alternative to lead pipe for water supply lines. We now know that decades of exposure to water will cause galvanized pipes to corrode and rust on the inside. This affects your water quality and could also potentially cause blockages.
If you know or suspect you have galvanised pipes, it's best to replace them with copper or polymer materials.
Here at Expert Plumbing, we use REHAU pipes for gas and water - robust, reliable pipes that have a service life of up to 50 years. These PEX pipes save your money in the long run, with fewer replacements and less waste.
Install a filter tap
For true peace of mind about the purity of your drinking water, you can install a filter tap. The tap is installed on your benchtop, and the filter is installed underneath. Filter taps can be expensive, but they save you money in the long term (compared to regularly buying water bottles). A plumber can change your filter cartridges to keep your filter tap in good shape. It's recommended that your filter is changed every 6 months, depending on use.
Filter taps can dispense boiling or chilled water, and come in a range of styles to suit any kitchen.
We are very fortunate in Australia to have access to quality drinking water straight from the tap. If you have any concerns about your drinking water, you should first check your water retailer's website. Here they regularly provide updates on their water quality results.
If there are no current water maintenance works in your area and you are concerned about your water, call a plumber to ease your concerns. We know what is within the range of normal, especially for Melbourne water, and will be happy to talk you through any questions you have.
Call Expert Plumbing today on 9486 5907, or get in touch via the contact us page.