General Question

eadinad's avatar

Why is my water making me sick?

Asked by eadinad (1263 points ) January 12th, 2009

I just moved into a new apartment. Drinking the water from the faucet – whether cold or after being boiled, for tea – makes me feel sick to my stomach for about half an hour. I seem to be fine when using it to cook pasta or rice, though.

Anyway, my county’s water is supposed to be really clean, and the water in my old apartment a couple of blocks away was fine, so I’m thinking it’s some kind of buildup in the pipes or something of this apartment. It’s really old, circa 1930s, and not well taken care of.

My question is, what kind of mineral do you think this is? Is there any way to tell? I don’t think it’s iron because the water doesn’t look rusty. Is there some sort of test I could do that is free/cheap? I’m getting a brita pitcher asap, but I want to satisfy my own curiosity and assure myself that it really is the water.

Thanks!

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13 Answers

EmpressPixie's avatar

You can get a cheapo water testing kit. Just look on Amazon or wherever for one. If it is cheap, it probably won’t be horribly amazing or exact, but should be able to tell you something.

steveprutz's avatar

I think you just need to be get acclimated to the water and its bacterial content, like people who visit Mexico. Always mix it with something Kool-Aid, and don’t drink large amounts. If you’re drinking tea, make sure to add some sugar and maybe have something in your stomach.

bythebay's avatar

@eadinad: Yes, perhaps as steveprutz suggested, koolaid or sugar might mask the taste of the bacteria – but you’ll still be ingesting that crap. Stop drinking your water until you can filter it and get it tested asap. If you building, as you said, is not very well maintained it has the potential to be dangerous. Be safe!

Judi's avatar

I wonder if you still have some old lead pipes in the building. I’m not sure when they stopped using that for water. (could be another question!) Also they used to use a lot of galvanized pipe, and some times did repairs with copper. I’m no chemist but I know that it caused a chemical reaction and made some tap water rusty. It’s not supposed to be a health issue, but you could be extra sensitive to something.
Yikes!

bythebay's avatar

@Judi: Would a landlord be responsible for providing safe water testing if the building is on a city system?

Judi's avatar

I don’t think they would be responsible for safe water “testing” but if the water coming out of the faucet was different than the water going into the building they could be “responsible.”
Most municipal water companies will test the water if you bring it in from your faucet.
We had the rust (electrolysis) issue in our apartments. Although there was an occasional red stain if you had a drippy faucet, the water was deemed safe. We have since re-piped almost all the buildings. It has cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. We have been working on it for the last 2 years.
The electrolysis caused leaking. The issue we wanted to avoid was mold more than rust.

bythebay's avatar

@judi: Any renter would be lucky to have you for a building owner!

eadinad's avatar

Thanks for your comments everyone. I don’t think that the water is “unsafe”, per se, just that it is has a high mineral count of some kind. It doesn’t taste nasty, just kind of…. mineral-y? And I am fairly sensitive to these kinds of things, for instance I take children’s multivitamins instead of adult because the adult version makes me sick to my stomach.

I have stopped drinking the water, I’m drinking from gallons until I go buy a filter, but like I said, I just want to know what it is. Perhaps I will pick up a testing kit as well.

bristolbaby's avatar

a test kit can’t hurt… some states provide them for free. Are you on city water or well water? As someone already mentioned, you may have lead pipes in the building, but they should have been replaced by now.

Everyone should test their water yearly because a good well can go bad without ‘cause.

I once had a well with water that tested high in magnesium. It is not harmful, but I would notice a buildup of green/white on top of the dirt in houseplants. I currently have a well that is high in iron and the pink was very noticeable until I put in a water softener.

scamp's avatar

I think steveprutz may be on to something. It may take a while to get used to your water. I think you should test it and also buy a filter. sorry if this is a repeat because I didn’t have time to read all the posts, but in case it wasn’t already mentioned, you might want to try boiling it before drinking it too.

When I first moved into my house in Florida, the water bothered me too. It’s completely safe, and actually very good spring water, but I had to get used to it. I just drank it in small amounts until I became used to it, and I was fine after that.

timothykinney's avatar

I experienced the same thing when I moved to Galveston, Texas. In my opinion, the water itself was not particularly good, but there were also issues with the pipes. Since Galveston was an island and the pipes were PVC, I’m not entirely convinced there wasn’t some seepage into the pipes. But I never proved it. I just switched to drinking bottled spring water.

You can get a free water quality analysis from your city water department. Doing so in Galveston showed me that toluene, benzene, and xylene were all in my water (in EPA-regulated ‘safe’ amounts) due to the close proximity of oil refineries. Coming from Olympia, Washington I compared the water analysis to home and discovered there are no such chemicals in normal drinking water. I strongly recommend at least looking at the analysis for your city. But remember that the testing they do is at their central plant and will not include any contaminants from the central plant to your home, which could include leaky water mains and old housing pipes.

There is a big difference between water that is safe to drink and water you would want to drink. After all, it’s your home.

wlc's avatar

We had our water heater replaced in a house we were renting and surprisingly, the tap water became crystal clear. I had thought the bad water was from the city but it was the old rusted water heater.

Flutherfish's avatar

Maybe the water you’re drinking might me contaminated. Check and see if the water is clean. If it isn’t go talk to the local water department about this issue. They may have an answer. If he/she says the water is fine. You should get one of those filters, those “cooler” type things. They filter out water 99.5%. I have one of those and the water works great. We used to have old pipes in our water room(I don’t know what it’s called). But now we replaced them and got the filter. I hope this helps :D

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