What Happens When the PH Balance Is Too High in Well Water?
- A high pH in well water means the water can neutralize potentially corrosive acids, according to a report by the University of Wisconsin's Chris Mechenich and Elaine Andrews. This alkaline water probably also contains calcium because the most common cause of alkaline water is dissolved "carbonate minerals, such as limestone," explain Mechenich and Andrews. If high-pH water is not correspondingly "hard" -- containing calcium -- it may contain sodium.
- Alkaline water does not pose a health risk, and neither the U.S. nor Canada imposes health-based pH standards for drinking water. Canada does, however, have an official Aesthetic Objective of 6.5 to 8.5 for water pH, according to a bulletin from the Nova Scotia Environment office. The nonprofit Water Systems Council suggests that high pH can lend "an alkali taste to the water that makes coffee taste bitter."
Effect on Pipes
- The most obvious effect of high pH in your water is increased scaling on pipes and fixtures. Mechenich and Andrews warn that such scaling is much more likely when pH is higher than 8.5. This scaling is commonly called "lime," and severe build-up can lead to serious encrustation of pipes.
- Repairing encrusted pipes and installing special filters or chemical treatments cost money, and chemical treatments require maintenance. Some of the costs of high-pH water are less obvious, however. The Water Systems Council warns, for example, that very alkaline water can lead to "lowered efficiency of hot-water heaters." The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency calls water heating "the third largest energy expense in your home," accounting for about 13 percent of a household's energy bill.