Owning a home that’s supplied by well water that has a low pH value can be a little concerning because of some of the issues this can create.
I know some of these low pH-associated problems firsthand because I have experienced many of them in my 26 years as a swimming pool water chemistry maintenance professional.
The good news is that having low pH in your incoming tap water is something that can be corrected fairly easily.
That’s exactly what I will talk about in this article.
I will start by going over the signs that indicate you may have a low pH condition in your tap water. Next, I will show you how to get your well supplied water’s pH level tested and what steps can be taken if these results indicate that you need to raise your household water’s pH.
I will also go over some FAQs regarding pH levels in well sourced tap water. This information will help you to make well informed choices when it comes to choosing where to keep your tap water’s pH level at.
Table of Contents
Indications of Low pH
For those that are not familiar with what the pH of water is and the more important aspects of it, we have posted a great article on this subject called the ‘PH of Water Guide’. It’s a nice introductory read on pH for anyone that wants to learn more about drinking water chemistry.
If you look at the chart below, you will see that an exactly neutral water pH level on the scale is considered to be 7. Any figure less than 7 and your well water is considered to be acidic and with any figure above 7, your well water is considered to be alkaline.
I will also mention that the significance of drinking water pH is not discussed without differentiating positions.
Interestingly enough, the EPA does not even have any enforceable guidelines as far as what the pH level of drinking water should be. But they do recommend that it be between a pH of 6.5 and 8.5.
That’s a fairly broad recommended range.
Low pH in well water (water that tests to the acidic side) is also something that doesn’t always jump right out at you. That’s because some of the signs that you have acidic-leaning tap water are either very subtle or they only reveal themselves over a long period of time.
That’s one of the reasons that it’s never a bad idea to periodically test your well water’s pH and check for other potentially harmful impurities at the same time.
The New York State Department of Health recommends those with well water get it tested every year for bacteria. So, while you are doing that, you may as well go ahead and monitor your well water’s pH and check the other characteristics of it too.
Here are some of the most common signs that may indicate your well water’s pH balance is to the low side:
- Low pH will sometimes cause blue or green stains on copper plumbing and around sinks & fixtures.
- Red- or rust-colored stains on galvanized steel or cast-iron plumbing are often attributed to low water pH.
- Acidic-leaning water can contribute to repeated leaking of your plumbing pipe connections
- Corrosion of toilet tank plumbing parts can also be a sign of low well water pH.
- One of the most pronounced signs of low tap water pH is the sour taste it can leave in your mouth after drinking a glass of water.
- Household water that causes glasses, dishes, and other surfaces to feel slippery, may also indicate tap water that’s to the acidic side.
- Unexplained stains on laundry can also be contributed to by having low tap water pH levels.
How to Test Your Water pH
There are several ways that you can test the incoming tap water from your well for its pH level. The good news is that all of these tests take very little effort on your part. You can also approach this pH testing one of two ways.
The first is to just simply test your household water’s pH and the second is to test for pH along with several other properties that you should be aware of concerning tap water that comes from a well. It’s the latter that I would highly recommend.
That’s because you would be surprised at the number of contaminants that can be picked up by surface water as it slowly works its way down through soil and rock beds to reach your well source.
If you have lived in different homes where one was supplied by city water and another by well water, many times you can really notice that the city water seems to be of higher quality. That’s because city water already has had some level of treatment done to it and well water has not.
Simple Well Water pH Testing
If you are only concerned at this time with the pH of your well water, then all you need to do is perform one of these easy water pH level tests.
- Test Strips
pH test strips such as the ones pictured above can be easily bought online or found at stores that sell swimming pool supplies, aquarium supplies, and water filtration devices.
- Test Drops
Once again, just as with pH test strips, pH test drops can be found online or at swimming pool, aquarium, and water filtration device suppliers.
More Extensive Well Water Testing
As I recommended, it’s probably a good idea to gain some knowledge of the many potentially harmful contaminants that might be lurking in your well water. That will require more than just simple pH testing. There are two main ways to do this.
- Take a Water Sample to be Tested Locally
Once again here, you can take advantage of the services that a store that sells swimming pool supplies, aquarium supplies, or water filtration devices offers. That’s because many of them also have extensive water testing capability.
All that you have to do is drop off a clean (this cannot be emphasized enough for accuracy) small size jar of your untreated well water to be tested.
- Buy A Kit Online and Mail It in To Be Tested
This is the most effortless way to get extensive testing done as to the current condition of your incoming well water including its pH level. Just simply order a test kit online, fill up the enclosed water sample container, and then drop it back into the mail.
With this type of test kit, you don’t even have to leave home to get your well water’s pH tested and they will electronically send the results in just a few days. Keep in mind that this is usually the most expensive way to test the quality of your incoming well water.
We recommend checking out our featured water test kits here.
Problems with Acidic Water
I discussed above some of the most common issues that having low tap water pH can cause with plumbing pipes and fixtures. This includes causing plumbing pipes to leak and have ugly stains form on the outside of them. These same plumbing pipes may even corrode enough to form holes in them.
But perhaps the most concerning issues that surround acidic-leaning well water have to do with you and your family’s health.
This can be an issue if you or your family members are having unexplained health problems. Then it’s never a bad idea to test your well water’s pH level to rule this out as being a factor. Experts agree that acidic-leaning water can cause a variety of health issues.
Well water that is to the acidic side can also increase the metal toxicity of your tap water.
This happens because low well water pH tends to cause corrosion and leaching inside metal plumbing pipes.
These potentially harmful trace particles of heavy metals such as copper and lead will then end up being consumed by you and your family through drinking and by using tap water for cooking. This too can lead to several adverse health conditions.
How to Fix Acidic Well Water
Fortunately, low well water pH is something that can be corrected fairly simply.
The best way to do this is by installing the best acid-neutralizer for well water. These typically use such filter media as calcite, calcium carbonate (ground limestone), or magnesia (magnesium oxide) to increase the pH of your incoming well water.
These types of filter media dissolve slightly when water contacts them to help naturally raise the pH level of the water that passes through them.
For well water that has an extremely low pH level (less than 5), more drastic measures such as a chemical feed system may be needed to bring your well water’s pH up to an acceptable range. These accomplish this by injecting soda ash into your incoming water supply.
More helpful information on how to handle low pH and other well water-associated issues can be found in our ‘Ultimate Guide To Well Water Treatment’ article.
Here are some frequently asked questions that I receive regarding well water pH:
Why Does Well Water Become Acidic?
The biggest factor when it comes to well water being acidic is acid rain. A condition where natural and man-made factors (mainly pollution) cause rainwater to come down with a pH of around 5 to 5.5.
A figure which gets even worse in the Northeastern United States due to its large concentration of people, cars, power plants, and industry. Rainfall in this area has been consistently measured to have a pH as low as 4.
This acid rainwater does not get neutralized enough by natural processes as it passes through the ground on the way to your well water’s source.
Is Acidic Well Water Safe to Drink?
This is a subject that is up for debate but the prevailing consensus these days is no. That’s because acidic water causes leaching of the insides of metal plumbing and these potentially harmful heavy metals end up being consumed.
Acidic-leaning water is also thought to contribute to gastrointestinal problems and may limit your body’s ability to absorb important calcium.
What Should the pH Be of Well Water on Average?
As was mentioned above, the EPA recommends that drinking water have a pH somewhere between 6.5 and 8.5. That is a good base figure for where your well water’s pH should be at too.
Is Too High a pH Problematic?
While water that tests to the alkaline side (high pH) is not considered to pose health risks, it can create some issues. This includes giving a bitter taste to drinks mixed with water (such as coffee), forming scale deposits on plumbing, and significantly decreasing the efficiency of electric water heaters.
Can Acid Neutralizers Help and Do They Also Filter Water?
Yes, acid neutralizers are the preferred method to correct low well water pH levels. They do not filter tap water but instead slowly erode their special media into the water that contacts them to naturally raise its pH.
Go Ahead and Raise Your Well Water’s pH if it’s Low
What are my final thoughts on whether or not you should correct your well water’s pH if it tests to the low side? I say that you do indeed take steps to correct it. You can accomplish several things by doing this.
For one, it can help safeguard you and your family members’ health. That alone makes it worth it to take steps to correct acid-leaning well water.
It also can help you avoid some plumbing issues such as leaking & corrosion, improve your tap water’s taste, and help keep dishes & glasses from getting a slippery film on them.
To top it all off, acid neutralizers are effective and are not very expensive to install and use. So I see no good reason why you or anyone else should not take steps to increase low well water pH levels.