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Are There Microbes Lurking at Your House


Since our humble beginnings in 2003, we at LuminUltra have always been keenly interested in water quality trends in different parts of the world.  We have tried to make a habit of running at least a few tests wherever we travel to see how water quality varies in different geographical locations, at hotels, convention halls, and industrial sites.  Most of the time, the results that we see tend to vary as we might expect.  That is, the degree of microbiological content tends to correlate with the age and condition of the water infrastructure, the frequency and volume of water usage, and the quality of the municipal water that is being delivered to the site.

Due to the speed and portability of our tests, many of our drinking water customers use our technology as an investigative tool for water quality issues to isolate the root cause of regrowth issues.  For example, we often hear from field technicians and service providers that they love the fact that they can travel to the home where a water quality complaint is made, run a few ATP tests, and immediately isolate the source and nature of the issue.  From what we’ve heard – in the majority of cases the problem tends to be linked to the home’s hot water heater.  This makes logical sense because warm water is much more conducive to regrowth than cold water and not all homeowners drain and refill their hot water tank from time to time, as is recommended to purge out accumulated sediment and other build-ups.

Shortly after purchasing a house in September of last year, I found myself returning home after a week on the road visiting clients and decided that since I had a PhotonMaster and QGA testing supplies with me – I’d run through a few samples in my new (to me) home.  The results that I found were unsurprising but interesting nonetheless:

Microbial test results at Daves house


Typically, treated drinking water that has good microbial control contains less than 0.5pg ATP/mL, and any result higher than 10pg ATP/mL indicates high risk.

So, the good news? The water quality was very good in three of the four samples that I analyzed.  The bad news? My hot water tank did indeed have more microbiological content than it should.  In fact, it was 100x more than the cold water flowing through the same lines.  The analyses of the bathroom sinks (both main floor and basement) coupled with that of the cold-water kitchen sink, confirmed that the municipal water delivered by the City of Fredericton was of exceptionally good quality.  In this case, the growth in the hot water line can be considered to be linked specifically to my hot water heater.  Considering that the hot water heater is relatively new, the solution is a simple one – drain and recharge the tank.  It doesn’t get much simpler than that.

BTW, check out this article Top plumbing tips for homeowners to see best practices for maintaining high quality water in your household plumbing.


Dave Tracey

Dave has been with LuminUltra since Day 1 and is proud to have been able to contribute from its early days as a small start-up to the company that it is today. He has served in a wide range of roles during that time, from producing reagent and conducting laboratory experiments through to his current position. Nothing is more important to Dave than family, whether it’s his two young sons or his fellow Sales & Marketing teammates. In both cases, he’s well aware that he wouldn’t be much without them. Originally a graduate of the Chemical Engineering program at the University of New Brunswick, his alma mater has come full circle 14 years later with Dave now serving as a mentor for final year ChE students during their senior plant design projects.

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