Frequently Asked Questions

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  1. Who is Clear Water Solutions?
  2. What water filter system is right for me?
  3. What should I look for in a water filter system?
  4. What does chlorine do in our water and are there any risks associated with it?
  5. What are disinfection byproducts, trihalomethanes and haloacetic acid?
  6. Why is NSF certification so important?
  7. What is arsenic and how can I deal with it?
  8. What is Hard Water and how can it be dealt with
  9. What is a Water Softener.
  1. Who is Clear Water Solutions? 
    • Clear Water Solutions provides the best in water filtration and treatment options so that you can love your water.  Highly chlorinated city water, arsenic, nitrates and general well water issues are just a few of the issues we successfully treat every day.  We feature state of industry products with clearly beneficial features such as Kinetico and UV Pure.  You can rest assured that our trained professionals will give you the correct recommendation for your home.  Our staff includes the only person currently listed by Canadian Water Quality Association as a Certified Water Treatment Technician in the Lower Mainland. We are also a member of Shell Busey’s HouseSmart Referral Network.  As such we have undergone their extensive customer reference and background checks so you don’t have to.  Perhaps you or a friend is frustrated by a drinking water system that has low flow or runs out of water. Maybe your whole home system just isn’t doing the job.  Kinetico Water System’s unique engineering solves many of the issues that plague other water systems.  Things like iron and hardness bleed through, figuring out when to change your filters and low water flow just aren’t problems with Kinetico.  Kinetico Water Systems are the most rigorously tested and certified products in the industry.  Our reverse osmosis drinking water systems are NSF certified to remove more contaminants than any other product available. Our Kinetico product line is the most environmentally friendly water treatment system on the planet. Major townships and cities use Kinetico Because of the tremendous efficiencies and cost saving.   You can rest assured because in addition to the Kinetico’s industry leading warranties, we also ensure your satisfaction with a one year money back guarantee.
  2. What water filter system is right for me?
    • The right water filter system is an important investment.  But no one system is right for everyone.  Water quality, plumbing architecture and water usage all play a role in determining the right water filter system for you.  At Clear Water Solutions we offer a free one hour consultation that will include a review of the issues mentioned so that we can recommend the right water filter system for your needs.
  3. What should I look for in a water filter system?
    • NSF Certifications
      • NSF (National Sanitation Foundation) is the most important third party certification organization for water filters and treatment systems. NSF has established the highest standards for product claims, manufacturing practices and product design.
      • Make sure the entire system you're evaluating is NSF certified and not just a specific component. It eliminates the "do it yourself" dealer from creating his own system. NSF certification is the only way to ensure that the performance claims made will in fact be delivered. You would be shocked how many major water companies do not offer certified products.  Click here to check any manufacture's NSF certifications.
      • Health Canada recommends NSF certified products.  Click here to review Health Canada’s web site information.
    • Warranties
      • Ask to read the original manufacturer’s warranty. Do not accept verbal promises from the salesperson. Ensure that the product manufacturer and not the reseller provide the warranty.  If the product name shares the same name as the dealer then be sure to check certifications and warranty.  Many, many, many “water guys” vanish.  With the backing of a major manufacturer you will always be able to get service and buy parts.
      • Does a "lifetime" warranty cover your life? The company’s life? Your home's life? or the salesman's life? It seems like a joke, but seriously a "lifetime" warranty is always a "limited lifetime" with the most expensive parts not covered for more than a year or two. The exclusions can make the warranties less valuable that the paper they are written on.
      • Make sure the warranty is fully transferable if you move to a new home or want to sell the unit to a new owner. If purchased correctly, one water system may be all you'll ever need!
    • Pricing/Value
      • Make sure the quoted price includes installation. Get a written quote and make sure there are no hidden charges.
      • The company should provide literature, specifications, operating costs, written warranties and third party validations on the exact system quoted.
    • Maintenance Costs
      • Review costs to operate a system as well as cost to purchase. In many cases, the maintenance cost on a low priced system exceeds the savings. Be sure to include the reverse osmosis membranes, filters as well as service in the maintenance cost. Most membranes last 6 months to 2 years.
      • The best value is the combination of a quality product with low maintenance and a solid manufacturer’s warranty.
    • Convenience
      • Ask to see an owner's manual before purchasing and review how to operate the system.
      • Find out how to troubleshoot the system if something goes wrong and how to set or reset the unit.
      • Review how to change the filters and how long the components last.
  4. What does chlorine do in our water and are there any risks associated with it?
    • In the Metro Vancouver watershed chlorine is added as a primary and secondary disinfection method.  The primary disinfection is to kill any bacteria and virus that may be present in the water.  As a secondary disinfectant, a chlorine residual is left if the water to prevent/reduce biofilm from building up.  Chlorine is again added most if not all the local reservoirs to ensure an adequate chlorine residual at your tap.  Unfortunately, the eventual build up of sediment, and organic material in water distribution system oxidizes the chlorine resulting in an inadequate chlorine residual for the intended purpose.  The result is to add more chlorine.  Periodically the various municipalities will flush the pipes to remove this build up.  The known health effects of chlorine include increased an increased risk of bladder cancer.  Interestingly, there is now a growing body of evidence that absorbing and inhaling the chlorine in a bath or shower is just as significant a health concern if not more than drinking chlorinated water.    Click here to review a synopsis of an article from the American Journal of Epidemiology.  Another effect is the creation of disinfection byproducts some of which can be highly carcinogenic.  Chlorine is generally treated in two ways.  The first is with an activated charcoal filter.  The chlorine is adsorbed onto the surface of the chlorine until the carbon if saturated.  The second is to use filtration media called KDF.  KDF converts the free chlorine to a zinc chloride compound.
  5. What are disinfection byproducts?
    • Disinfection byproducts occur when the disinfectant reacts with an impurity in the water to create something else.  In Vancouver, chlorine reacts/oxidizes with organic material and anything else that washes into the water system from the local mountains.  Typically the byproducts are referred to as volatile organic compounds (VOC’s).  Two very specific types of VOC’s are tested for these being trihalomethanes and haloacetic acid.  These VOC’s are consider highly carcinogenic and have maximum contaminant levels as set by Health Canada. Click here to review a synopsis of an article from the American Journal of Epidemiology. Currently (April 08) Vancouver has several reservoirs that exceed the maximum allowable levels for haloacetic acid.  These measurements that are taken by the GVRD are at the reservoir level.  Because the is still residual chlorine and organic material in the water mains between the reservoir and the final usage point, it is expected that the level  coming out of a person’s tap would be somewhat greater than the amounts measured at the reservoir.  The GVRD water report may be review here.  The normal treatment method for VOC’s is filtration though a carbon filter.  Although it does require a contact time to adequately adsorb the VOC’s..  KDF has no effect on VOC’s.  All forms of chemical disinfection do create some sort of byproduct.  Ozone, chloramine, chlorine dioxide all have their own by products but we won’t discuss those here.
  6. Why is NSF certification so important?
    • The NSF (National Sanitation Foundation) works with major government agencies like Health Canada and the US Environmental Protection Agency to create standards for products and then certify that products do comply with those standards.  They are not-for-profit organization whose main goal is to protect consumers by helping business provide safer products.  There are many types of NSF Certification.  The first is Standard 61.  This is a materials standard ensures that nothing harmful leeches out of a product.  For example, Bisphenol-A is one of the chemicals that are tested for.   The next sets of standards are for what the product removes or treats for.  Standards 42, 53, 58 all refer to the types of technology and contaminants removed.  Within each standard there are many different contaminants that can be certified for.  For reverse osmosis systems, daily production and flow rates are also certified.  In the end a certified product just makes sense.  Click here for information from Health Canada on NSF certification.
  7. What is arsenic and how can I deal with it?
    • Arsenic is a natural element that is widely distributed throughout the Earth’s crust. It is often found naturally in groundwater, through erosion and weathering of soils, minerals, and ores.  While arsenic is used commercial and in industry, the arsenic that is typically found in the lower mainland is naturally occurring.  Arsenic is referred to as a metalloid (not a heavy metal).
    • Typically, arsenic in ground water is in one of two forms, As(III)  or As(V).  The As(III)  form is more difficult to deal with. 
    • The local levels can vary in well water sources from undetectable to .05-.06 mg/l.  White Rock’s water system seems to have between 0.005mg/l and .0075mg/l.  Aldergrove’s water has approximately .005 mg/l.
    • Arsenic is classified as a carcinogen and the maximum acceptable concentration 0f .010 mg/l (10g/l).  This level was set according to several guidelines including:
      • The concentration of arsenic in drinking water representing an “essentially negligible” risk is 0.3 μg/L. Levels of arsenic in drinking water should be as close as possible to this level.
      • The MAC must be measurable. The MAC, based on the ability of laboratories to measure arsenic within reasonable limits of precision and accuracy, is 0.003 mg/L.
      • The MAC must be achievable at reasonable cost. Both municipal-scale and residential scale treatment options can remove arsenic from drinking water to below the guideline value.
    • While the maximum acceptable concentration is set based on arsenic’s effects as a cancer causing agent it also may have other health effects.  These include cardio vascular disease and spontaneous miscarriages.
    • The main health risks come from consuming the water orally recent studies have shown arsenic to be absorbed through the skin as well.  Approximately 6% of available arsenic may be absorbed through the skin.  Typically this is not a concern until the arsenic level becomes very high.
    • Arsenic treatment options include: coagulation/filtration, ion exchange, adsorption/filtration and reverse osmosis.  Each treatment has its own benefits and detractions.
    • This is a very quick overview.  For an expansive review of arsenic and water please review Health Canada’s Guideline Technical Document “Arsenic”.
  8. What is Hard Water and how can it be dealt with? 
    • Water that that comes from a well is referred to as ground water.  Frequently, as this water  percolates through the ground down into the water table it dissolves many minerals and contaminants including calcium and magnesium.  Calcium and magnesium are what create “hardness” in water.  The issues that arise from hard water include; clogging of pipes and appliances, inefficiency of hot water systems, staining and scarring of glass ware and fixtures, poor sudsing of soap resulting and reduced cleaning capacities.  For more information on the effects of hard water click here.
    • Hard Water is typically treated with a water filter described as a “softener”.  There are other products that claim to treat hard water without the use of filters.  As always, we recommend a system that is NSF certified or WQA certified to treat hard water.  With a certified product you will always know exactly what type of performance to expect.  Otherwise results can be hit and miss
  9. What is a Water Softener?
    • A water softener is designed to remove dissolved calcium and magnesium from hard water leaving it far more useful in the home.  It does this by using a process called ion exchange.  Inside a water softener tank is a small resin bead that is a little larger that a grain of sand.  Attached to this resin is a sodium ion (or potassium ion).  As hard water passes through the resin beads, the calcium and magnesium ions are attracted to the bead and attach themselves to the bead while the sodium ion is released.  Eventually all of the available space on the resin bead has been filled with calcium and magnesium, and all the sodium has been exchanged into the water.  At this point no more hardness can be treated and the household will experience “bleed through”.  To treat more hardness a strong solution brine solution (table salt – NaCl) is introduced to the resin.  Now the sodium is exchanged back on to the resin and the calcium, magnesium and chloride ions are flushed down the drain.  The resin is now able to treat the household’s water again.  Knowing the volume of resin and the amount of hardness in the water, it is an easy to calculate the volume of water that can be treated before the next regeneration is necessary.  A water softener can also be used to treat dissolved iron and manganese from water.
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