There's a Boil Water Advisory - What Do I Need to Know?

Pot of water boiling

A boil water advisory has just been issued for your area and questions are swirling in your head. Why has this been put into place? How long do I have to boil my water? Do I have to use boiled water for everything? What about my water softener or filter? Do I need to clean it after the advisory is lifted? There are so many questions, but by taking just a few small precautions, your family’s water can remain safe.

Why is a Boil Water Advisory Issued and What Does it Mean?

A boil water advisory is issued by a municipal water provider when there is a chance of biological contamination in the water. This can happen when there is a sudden drop in pressure in the system, such as a water main break, that introduces the chance of the water coming in contact with bacteria. Boil water advisories can also be issued when there are problems at the municipal water treatment facility, including a loss in pressure or problems with the disinfection process. Most advisories last 24-48 hours.

This means that biological contaminants may have entered the water system. These contaminants can include protozoa (such as giardia and cryptosporidium), E.coli, and also some viruses. While drinking these biological contaminants won’t do any long-term damaging effects to you and your family, they can cause gastro-intestinal issues in people and animals —such as diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. Young children, elderly, and the immune-compromised are at the greatest risk from dehydration as a result of those symptoms.

How Can I Make my Water Safe?

First, it is important to know that the water softener or filter you have in your home WILL NOT make your water safe to drink during a boil water advisory. For water that will be used for drinking, cooking, brushing teeth, for your pet, or ice cubes, you will need to bring your water to a rolling boil for at least one full minute. People living in elevations of 6,500 feet or higher will need to boil their water for three full minutes. This process will sterilize any bacteria that may be traveling with your water. Water that has been boiled and cooled can be stored in clean/sanitized containers for later use.

Water that is used around your house to do the laundry, take a shower, or clean your dishes does not need to be boiled during these advisories. You will only experience the upset stomach from any water that is consumed.

What do I Need to do After the Advisory is Lifted?

Once the boil water advisory is lifted, you need to flush out all the plumbing in your home to remove any water that is in your pipes that still has the contamination. You can do this by turning on the cold water at each faucet and letting it run for at least five minutes. Any ice from your ice maker should be discarded, and the next 4-5 batches should be discarded as well. Carbon-activated filters for things like your ice maker, coffee maker, refrigerator water should all be replaced.

Your water treatment unit, whether it’s a softener or whole-home filter, also needs certain steps taken to ensure that the water its treating is safe for consumption. In order to ensure that your water softener or filter has been properly decontaminated following a boil water advisory, the following steps should be completed by a water treatment professional.

Cleaning a Carbon Water Filter and other Water Filters After a Boil Water Advisory:

    • Cartridge carbon filters and other water filters: Your local water expert will remove and discard the old filter cartridge, wash the sump and head with household detergent and bleach, then insert a new cartridge filter.
    • For a whole-house carbon tank filter or a water softener which contains carbon: The technician will need to empty the entire mineral bed, thoroughly clean the empty unit inside and out with a household bleach and water solution, then re-bed the unit using new carbon or resin/carbon mix.

Cleaning a Water Softener After a Boil Water Advisory:

    • The technician will flush and backwash the softener repeatedly with potable water until the water runs clear. In extreme cases, the resin may have to be removed and either cleaned or replaced. The interior of the mineral (resin) tank should then be cleaned and disinfected before replacing the resin.
    • Next, they’ll remove the salt tank and brine well covers, note the level of water existing in the brine tank and brine well, remove the salt and discard all the wet salt and existing water from the brine tank.
    • Cleaning the brine tank with disinfectant will prevent contaminating any new salt or water that enters the tank.
    • Replace the dry salt and/or add new salt to the brine tank.

Concerned About Your Water?

If you’re still concerned about your water after the boil water advisory is lifted, give us a call. Our trained technicians can help ensure your Evolve water treatment system is clean and running in top shape!

If you don’t have a water treatment system, but you are concerned about the quality of your water, give us a call! Ask us about a UV disinfection system that can help sanitize any bacteria before it ever reaches your tap. We’ll send a technician to sample your water, test it, and find the right Evolve water treatment system to provide you with high-quality water you deserve!

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