If you have a private well, you probably know that you’re responsible for testing and treating your own water. But if your home is hooked up to a municipal water line, you may assume that the water that reaches you is clean and safe. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. No matter your water source, installing a UV Disinfection System is a simple, cost-effective way to ensure living organisms in your water don’t make you sick.
How UV Systems Work
UV water treatment is safe, simple, and used in millions of homes and businesses around the world. UV stands for ultraviolet. When water enters a UV Disinfection System (also known as a UV Purification System), it’s exposed to ultraviolet light at a particular wavelength that scrambles the DNA or RNA of any living organism within the water. Because of that damage, organisms are no longer able to reproduce, meaning they can’t replicate inside you and make you sick.
UV Purification Systems include an electric powered ultraviolet light encased in a quartz sleeve. Untreated water flows into the UV chamber, is exposed to the light, and then flows out to be used in your home. Most UV Systems deactivate all microorganisms within ten seconds.
What UV Disinfection Systems Protect Against
A well maintained UV Disinfection System at the proper frequency can kill 99.99% of living microorganisms in your water. This includes a wide range of potentially dangerous bacteria, viruses, protozoa, algae, and fungi. Many of these cause unpleasant digestive side effects, such as Salmonella, E. coli, and Cholera. UV Purification Systems also protect you from Cryptosporidium and Giardia as long as the light is strong enough.
If your water comes from a well, a UV System is an important safeguard to make sure you and your family aren’t ingesting coliform bacteria or any other microorganism that could make you ill. Even if you test your water annually, as recommended, the system will protect you from anything that might make its way into your water between tests.
Even if you use municipal water, UV Disinfection Systems are still a good idea. If you’ve ever received a boil water advisory, that means potentially contaminated water may have reached you before you even knew there was a problem. If you have a UV System installed, there is no need to boil water. A UV Purification System will neutralize any microbes the municipal authority missed, either because of a water emergency or because the pathogen was resistant to the disinfecting chemicals they used. This added peace of mind is often worth the minimal investment.
What UV Disinfection Systems Don’t Protect Against
Ultraviolet Systems are only effective against living organisms. They will not treat or remove chemicals, heavy metals (like lead), minerals, salt, PFOA, PFOS, or dirt, and they will not change the hardness or taste of your water. That means that UV Purifiers are rarely the only water treatment you need for your home. Instead, they are often an important complement to other systems.
For UV disinfection to work properly, water must be completely clear without any dirt, sand, or silt. If there’s anything floating in the water, the UV light will refract off the particles without neutralizing any microorganisms behind them. A pre-filter may be necessary to remove such matter from your water before it reaches the UV System. UV Disinfection Systems can also be damaged by constant exposure to hard water, so we recommend installing a water softener as well if you experience any of these common signs.
UV Purification Systems require electricity to function. If your power goes out, so does the light, and your water will no longer be disinfected. This is particularly important to remember during a boil water advisory. If you’ve lost electricity, you can no longer count on the system to protect you.
Are UV Purification Systems Safe?
Yes! UV purification technology has been around for more than a hundred years. It is a chemical free process that never adds anything to your water and doesn’t leave behind any dangerous or inconvenient byproducts. It’s also environmentally friendly, since it doesn’t waste any water and uses only a small amount of electricity.
How to Maintain Your Ultraviolet Purification System
Ultraviolet Systems are easy and cost-effective to maintain, but do require a few annual maintenance tasks. The UV lamp should be replaced every year to make sure it can achieve the wavelength necessary to kill all microorganisms. The quartz sleeve must also remain clean so the ultraviolet light can shine through to the water at full strength. You should check and clean it yearly when you replace the lamp. That sleeve should be replaced every two years since it grows fragile with time.
What To Look For When Purchasing an Ultraviolet Disinfection System
When installing an ultraviolet purification system, it’s important that its flow rate is high enough for your household’s water usage. UV filters can be installed under the kitchen sink or, more commonly, as water enters your home. If you’re installing a whole home system, it’s important that it can keep up with all your water needs. It’s always better to overestimate those needs than underestimate them. We recommend you choose a higher flow rate than actually anticipated so that the system is able to treat all the water you’d use if you ran several faucets simultaneously.
You should also be sure the system has the right dosing rating to protect against microbes that have thicker cell walls. The higher the dose, the more energy is used to incapacitate the microorganisms in your water. Look for a dosage rating of at least 30 millijoules of UV per square centimeter (mj/cm2) for the strongest protection.
Finally, different systems offer various bells and whistles to monitor and track system performance or countdown to maintenance tasks which may or may not be of interest to you.
At time of installation, we also recommend you do some water testing to determine if a pre-filter or a water softener would help your new UV System work more effectively.
Installing an Ultraviolet Purification System is a safe and easy way to ensure your water is free of pathogens that could make you sick. With its relatively low cost to install and maintain, the investment is well worth the peace of mind it provides. Contact Dierolf Plumbing and Water Treatment to schedule an installation today.