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Let's Shoot Straight: The Truth About These "Free" Water Tests

Let’s Shoot Straight

So many times I’ve heard people, who live in homes supplied by municipal (city vs. well) water mention that so and so water conditioning company came out to “test their water.” This is usually followed by something like “WOW! You cannot believe the yuck that is in my water: it was really gross.” So a water conditioning company came out to run a “test” and–lo and behold–they discovered some extreme contamination in this particular home. This whole approach bothers me.

The intended use of the word “test” is to communicate that the “expert” will determine the presence or absence of harmful contaminants. That sounds plausible, at first.

The following three reasons cast doubt on the credibility of this approach.

The items that can be somewhat accurately tested from the simple field-test kit:

1. Are very basic items that deal with aesthetic water quality, such as hardness (Calcium and Magnesium, AKA lime and scale), Iron, pH, and TDS, and do not quantify health-related contaminants.

2. Have not fluctuated on our municipal supplies for many years. The “test” is repeated time and again, but every home, serviced by a given utility district, is the same and the “expert” already knows that answer.

3. Have no value for providing useful health-related information. More data is made available July 1st, each year, to customers of municipal water suppliers in the annual CCR (Consumer Confidence Report).

So it’s not really a test. What is it? Well, most of the time it is a tactic used to get into the home to perform a demonstration. The demonstration can include a variety of drops and chemicals and colors to reveal some of the most basic information in water treatment such as hardness, chlorine, and pH. Unfortunately, the demonstration goes further.

That brings us to the “yuck” part.

This part of the demonstration normally comes in one of two forms:

1. This type consists of using a couple of chemicals that react with hardness to form a large mass of chemical goop that has no real representation of calcium and magnesium in water other than the fact that it is there. It looks disgusting and all it represents is a couple of the least harmful contaminants that exist in water from a health-related point of view. However, the demonstration implies that it represents all kinds of harmful contaminants.

2. Type 2 utilizes a jar with two metal probes attached to the lid. The probes are attached to an electrical plug. The customer’s tap water is poured into the jar and the jar is plugged in. This one really is “yucky” looking. Yellow, green, brown, slime and goop. Well, one of the probes is aluminum and the other is iron. The electrical charge across the probes, through the water, causes iron oxide to spin off of the iron probe and precipitate some of the minerals in the water. What the customer is seeing is 98% iron oxide that came from the probe and not anything that is in the customer’s water.

If an appointment is acquired under misleading implications and the “test” is a misleading demonstration then what are the odds that the purchase will result in a good, long-term relationship?

I grew up with quite a bit of family in heating and air conditioning. When I got into water conditioning the heating and air conditioning business model (contractor or sub-contractor) seemed to be a natural.

This is a contracting business that should include the following services:

1. Professional analysis, performed by a laboratory (for medical, industrial, private, and community well applications).

2. Consultation.

3. System design.

4. Installation, scheduled maintenance, and repair service.

The water story is a very interesting story with plenty of scientific and logical reasons to improve the quality of household use and drinking water. I have touted the virtues of soft, chlorine free, water throughout the home and purified drinking water for 30 years. I have never felt that I needed to play games to have a conversation or perform “magic” tricks to make a sale.

The facts speak for themselves. They don’t need to be embellished. Just think about it next time someone says that they want to “test” your municipal water.

– Denis Rochat, MWS, CI

See where to purchase a water purification system with confidence.

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