Daryl writes: I purchased a vacation home last year and noticed blue stains in the shower and bathroom sink. Is this due to acidic water and is it detrimental to a person’s health? Can you drink acidic water?
Steve Bliss, of BuildingAdvisor.com, responds: Your problem is most likely acidic water. A water test, which you can arrange with your town’s health department for a modest fee, can confirm this.
Acidic water is generally not a health problem. Well water generally ranges from a pH of 5 (acidic) to 9 (basic). Water with a pH of below 4 or above 10 can be irritating to skin and membranes, but is generally safe to drink.
Acidic water, however, can leach copper from pipes and leave blue deposits on plumbing fixtures and corrode metal finishes. Over many years, the acidic water can lead to pitting or leakage in the copper piping – an expensive problem. In older houses, acidic water can leach lead from leaded solder, lead piping, or brass and bronze fittings, leading to health problems.
If acidic water is a problem, the simplest approach is to install a whole-house acid neutralizer, which adds a little calcium carbonate to the water. I’ve had a system in a home for a couple of years. In addition to eliminating the blue stains, the water tastes a lot better, probably due to less dissolved metals in the water.