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Author Topic: Is my kettle water safe?  (Read 9088 times)

Offline rhade

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Is my kettle water safe?
« on: 04/08/2011 14:10:51 »
My water company recently gave me a booklet of advice, which included to run the tap for a few minutes to clear any dirt and gunge from the pipes. I have always done this anyway, but not when filling the kettle, because I always assume that anything nasty is removed by the boiling. But am I right, or would I be better advised to change my practises?


 

Offline imatfaal

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« Reply #1 on: 04/08/2011 14:34:07 »
rhade - where in the UK do you need to run the tap for a few minutes before using?  I might let the cold tap run for a few seconds to get colder water from the mains - but in the majority of the UK there is no need to flush pipes every time you use water.  Are you sure they don't just mean first time use - or first time after a long gap?
 

Offline CliffordK

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« Reply #2 on: 04/08/2011 16:23:46 »
In some places you may get rust in the pipes.  I don't know if it is from the incoming water, or the pipes within one's house.  But, it shouldn't be a major problem.  It just may not appear appetizing.

Your teapot should be ok, as long as it isn't pewter, or soldered with lead solder like many Russian Samovars.  Boiling the water would kill any organisms, and a little rust shouldn't be an issue.
 

Offline rhade

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« Reply #3 on: 06/08/2011 23:19:53 »
Imatfaal, I will quote from Anglian Water's booklet: "Run off any water which has stood in pipework, for any period of time (such as overnight) in particular if you have lead pipes, for a few minutes before drinking. This will help you reduce the levels of plumbing metals such as lead or copper and any tastes or odours." This was in the booklet they gave me when I had a water meter installed last week.
 

Offline CliffordK

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« Reply #4 on: 07/08/2011 00:01:14 »
in particular if you have lead pipes

Lead pipes for drinking water?
No wonder the British Empire collapsed.
It happened to the Romans too!!!

I've seen solid lead drain pipes, but never incoming pipes.  Of course, until about 30 years ago, they might have used lead solder with copper pipe joints.

I have heard it recommended to never use hot tap water for drinking as it may leach more out of the pipes.  I don't know if that is true.
 

Offline graham.d

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« Reply #5 on: 07/08/2011 09:27:32 »
There is still a lot of lead piping in the UK. It is now, almost exclusively, only on householders property from the main pipe outside, under the ground and up into the building. It is also sometimes in the house although mostly houses have all been converted to copper over the years. My house was built in 1923 and still has about 20 metres of lead piping from the road to the house. However, I live in a very hard water area so I expect that there is a generous coating of limescale in the pipe. If the region (parts of East Anglia for example) is in a soft water area then the advice may be sensible.

I think the Romans had problems to do with drinking wine that was prepared and kept in lead vats. It was also a problem with cider making in the UK in the past where the presses where lead lined. Water is less of a problem though removing lead is advisable. Its effects are cumulative I believe.
 

Offline rhade

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« Reply #6 on: 07/08/2011 10:38:55 »
I should have pointed out that I don't have lead pipes! I beleive that in listed buildings (those preserved for historical reasons) it can be illegal to change lead piping. I think the main reason we are told not to drink from the hot tap is because the average septic tank is not a very hygienic contraption.
 

Offline graham.d

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« Reply #7 on: 07/08/2011 11:28:19 »
rhade, I don't think you mean "septic tank". This is a tank intended for sewage when not on main drainage. You mean the storage tank in the loft which supplies the water for the hot supply and sometimes other cold water other than the drinking water supply. This can have the occasional dead bird in it (if improperly covered) so it is not recommended for drinking!

I doubt whether the local water supplier advises householders individually depending on their main supply pipes so I guess the advice is a general purpose one. If you are sure that the pipe from the main in the road to the first stop valve (usually under your kitchen sink) is not lead then I doubt the advice applies to you. If your house is not very old then it will be a plastic pipe.
 

Offline rhade

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« Reply #8 on: 07/08/2011 22:46:07 »
Thanks for the correction, graham. I did mean the hot water tank. I think I heard someone refer to it as the "septic tank" once, and the idea got stuck in my head. My house was built in the 1970's. I suppose I should mention that the water round here is so full of limescale it's more like liquid chalk!
 

Offline imatfaal

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« Reply #9 on: 08/08/2011 10:51:58 »
I find it amazing that Anglian - in a time that all the water companies are claiming that we need to conserve fresh water and lower usage - are giving blanket advice like that.  It's pre-emptive a**e-covering of the worst sort.  I dunno about you, but I grew up in an area with masses of limescale and if I try to drink soft water it just tastes all wrong.
 

Offline SeanB

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« Reply #10 on: 08/08/2011 19:32:04 »
I live in an area with soft water, and it is very nice. On the farm, with water supplied from a dolomite well, and stored in a huge tank, there was a generous build up of scale on all pipes, and the water did taste different.
 

Offline Geezer

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« Reply #11 on: 08/08/2011 22:22:47 »
The water was so soft where I grew up that we could fill the bathtub with bubbles by paddling the bathwater.
 

Offline Mazurka

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« Reply #12 on: 09/08/2011 15:27:43 »
The water was so soft where I grew up that we could fill the bathtub with bubbles by paddling the bathwater.
I have never heard it called paddling before... [:0]
 

Offline Mazurka

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« Reply #13 on: 09/08/2011 15:44:40 »
I find it amazing that Anglian - in a time that all the water companies are claiming that we need to conserve fresh water and lower usage - are giving blanket advice like that.  It's pre-emptive a**e-covering of the worst sort.  I dunno about you, but I grew up in an area with masses of limescale and if I try to drink soft water it just tastes all wrong.
To change the subject slightly my water company (United Utilities) have just started a big campaign about the dangers of swimming in reservoirs - whilst this is true to a certain extent, the leaflet they put through the door goes onto suggest that you should only swim in swimming pools.  As a keen openwater swimmer I found their comments quite irritating and patronising.  To compound this irritation, the leaflet was factually incorrect in relation to water temperature and in suggesting that people drown due to hypothermia.  

I am tempted to get a T shirt printed up saying "Thirlmere is my swimming pool and my water bill is my entrance fee"
 

Offline graham.d

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« Reply #14 on: 09/08/2011 16:33:55 »
Hmm. OK as long as you don't "paddle" in it! At least, if it's my drinking water.
 

Offline Geezer

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« Reply #15 on: 09/08/2011 17:30:21 »
I should have mentioned that in "paddle", the "P" is silent, as in "bath".
 

Offline SeanB

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« Reply #16 on: 09/08/2011 18:01:50 »
And there I am worried about Cholera, when paddling is worse.
 

Offline rhade

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« Reply #17 on: 10/08/2011 17:11:48 »
Thirlmere, eh, Mazurka? I'm from Keswick, originally, so as you will know, i grew up with nice, clean, soft water with absolutely nowt in it. Coming down here to the limescaley water of east Anglia was quite a shock to the ol' system, i can tell you!
And yeah, imatfaal, Anglian are trying to tread the line between telling us not to waste water and telling us to run the taps for a bit. They say we should save the water to use it on our plants.
 

Offline CliffordK

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« Reply #18 on: 11/08/2011 03:31:15 »
Ahhh,

So the British water companies ask the customers not to use water.
So they don't have to actually repair their pipes?

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1291435/Enough-water-22m-people-leaking-water-firms-pipes-EVERY-DAY--warned-hot-weather-cause-hosepipe-ban.html
 

Offline graham.d

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« Reply #19 on: 11/08/2011 08:45:19 »
That is about right Clifford. The water companies were privatised some years ago but the companies really have (as you may expect) a more or less monopoly in any region. Their behaviour is monitored by a government Quango (OFWAT) but their effectiveness is linited. It is hard to see why a private monopoly is going to behave better than a public one. The technical problem is that Britain put in a network of supplies which were state of the art in about 1850!! Unfortunately they are leaking a bit now! The cost of repair/replacement is huge so, unsurprisingly, it is not being done very quickly.

A personal example: We noticed water coming out from our stop-valve access point in the road so I checked to ensure it was on the company side and not coming from my side of the meter. It was on their side, but being a good citizan I reported it. They sent someone to inspect it about 2 weeks later. They then sent, over a period of 6 weeks, someone to dig up the road, someone to do the plumbing, someone to fill in the hole, someone to tarmac the surface, and then, finally, someone to remove the traffic warning stuff. After all this, I looked into it and found they had connected it back without a meter!! They still have not replaced the meter 4 months later and are giving us bills based on estimated water use from previous years. So much for privatisation leading to efficiency!
 

Offline Geezer

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« Reply #20 on: 11/08/2011 18:38:57 »
You have to look on the bright side Graham. At least you didn't have to bung them a few quid to get them to start digging the hole (which might be required in some other countries.)

The only utility we have is electricity. It's supplied by a co-op distribution company which has a virtual monopoly, but the service is fantastic. We get a fair number of outages when storms drop trees on the power lines, but when that does occur, the crews are out in no time in all weathers, and they don't leave until the power is restored.
 

Offline rhade

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« Reply #21 on: 11/08/2011 22:13:24 »
Yeah, as Graham says the idea of privatisation and competition leading to better service (because they don't wanna lose business to a competitor) is fine if there is competition. The problem is, often there isn't. The water companies in particular, because of the way the system works, usually don't have any. On the other hand, as there was never a national water grid, there was never a particularly good case for nationalising it either.
 

Offline rhade

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« Reply #22 on: 11/08/2011 22:19:46 »
Ohm, "resistance is futile," very funny, Geezer. Been looking at his profile, folks.
 

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