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Hidden Hazards of Unused Rooms in Your Home

Hidden Hazards of Unused Rooms in Your Home

Home ownership is a goal for most people.  If asked why that’s the case, the answers usually have an economic theme about the benefits of real estate appreciation or tax shelters.  But there’s so much more to it.  It’s where we live and play and raise a family.  From man caves to meditation rooms, each of us hopes to have the perfect environment to enjoy our version of a healthy and satisfying life. Because of this, homes have increased in size and complexity over the years.  But there’s a hidden danger that may be detracting from your health and well-being - stagnant water.

Stagnant water is not simply water that’s been sitting so it tastes musty and stale.  Stagnant water is a term used for water that has become putrid, contaminated, and unsafe.  When water sits in your plumbing for long periods of time without being used, it becomes an incubator for bacteria and parasites.  Why bring up this unpleasant topic? Because as home sizes have increased or even when larger homes are purchased, sections of the home may sit unused for days or weeks at a time. Bathrooms, second kitchens, or even whole floors sit unused and the water waiting in your plumbing is just crawling with bugs... Really. Larger homes aren’t the only worry.  Many smaller homes with empty nesters enjoying their retirement have an unused area that waits for visiting family.

What most homeowners don’t realize is that the disinfectant (chlorine, etc.) in your water supply has a shelf life. As it does its job of controlling bacteria, it gets used up in as little as 3 hours. After that, there’s nothing keeping bacteria growth in check. Most bacteria double every 20 minutes! These bacteria can cause a wide variety of issues for the structure and the homeowner alike. For the home, biofilm and aggressive corrosion of plumbing and appliances is a common occurrence.  For the homeowner, problems range from severe skin irritation to nasty pathogens that can cause serious illness.

BUGS in your Water

If this is the first you’ve heard of these problems, you’re not alone.  Most homeowners haven’t.  In industrial settings, this kind of problem is well known and action plans to avoid water stagnation are in place.  Some kind of attention and planning is critical. The special training and certification required in industrial settings is rare among residential plumbers and softener suppliers.  

I first became aware of this kind of issue as I worked with RETEGO Labs, a Utah based company specializing in lab analysis of water.  They’d tested the water in hundreds of homes as they developed and patented a new technology that allows them to do advanced testing right in the home with the accuracy and precision of a certified lab.  These tests revealed that the same problems faced in industrial settings are also prevalent residentially. 

The good news is that there are ways to deal with these problems.  It involves more than simply flushing the toilets every couple of days or running the water for a few minutes to replace the old water, but it’s not difficult to implement.  Finding no one in the industry who was aware or understood the problem, RETEGO Labs developed their own program to test and evaluate homes.  Water flow and use is different in every home.  The data collected in the testing and evaluation is used to custom tailor a plan for each home. The results have been amazing.

Many of the problems attributed to “Utah Water” are much more universal. Water chemistry changes from location to location but they all share common attributes. No matter how good your water source is, if it sits for long periods of time it will stagnate. However, with proper testing, planning, and attention these problems can be handled, and clean, fresh, healthy, and hydrating water is possible. Give RETEGO a call to discuss what you can do to take care of this hidden hazard and keep that dream home healthy and safe.