It can improve your customers’ water systems—and lives.
By Benjamin Strickland
In the womb, we survive and grow in the safety and nourishment of water. About 60% of an adult’s body is made up of water. We get water from the refrigerator for refreshment and hydration. As a kid, we played in puddles. Now, we go to a lake and spend a weekend water skiing and swimming.
Growing up, water was just a clear substance that was a part of me and my everyday life. We assumed it was safe to drink and play in.
It was not until 2016 when I got into the plumbing and water well industry that I got to see firsthand how we as humans can alter water to benefit and make lives healthier and better.
Starting out as a plumber’s helper, I would go to water filtration installs and checkups with my father-in-law, Jason Campbell. I got to experience the different ways our company set up water filtration systems to meet certain criteria and the needs of the consumer.
Whether it was an iron zapper filter, a softener, or even an under-the-sink reverse osmosis system, I was immediately hooked on solving water filtration issues for customers and always hoping our next call would involve a water filtration scenario.
The more I got to help with these installs and the more I learned, I realized we were making an impact on people’s lives. Not only were we improving the quality of a household’s water, but we were also improving the quality of water in the community and the world one system at a time.
Educating Our Communities
The use of water filtration systems here in Athens, Georgia, is not that common and consumers’ knowledge of what filters can do for them is extremely limited too. However, I believe we can change this by offering more education on water filtration services to a broader segment of the community.
I also believe water filtration is the next big service for the plumbing and water well industries—much like tankless water heaters have been in the past 10 to 15 years.
I got a call from a local family near our office back in 2021 requesting a quote on a water filtration system for the drilled well on their property. On arrival, the customer walked me through their specific issues and needs.
One issue facing them was that a member of the family had the disease, hemochromatosis, a condition where the body builds up harmful levels of iron which in return can damage the liver, heart, pancreas, and other organs of the body.
This was the first time I had a job where a filtration system was literally being designed and installed to help with a family’s health and well-being.
The initial step was to collect a water sample and have it analyzed at the University of Georgia. The results came back showing iron levels of 13.53 parts per million, well above the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s acceptable standard of no more than 0.30 parts per million.
Manganese levels were at an elevated level of 0.24 ppm, which was also well above the EPA acceptable standard of 0.05 ppm. The water hardness level was 38 ppm.
I immediately called our local filter distributor, Jay Hanlon, owner of Filter Tech Inc. He is extremely knowledgeable when it comes to water filtration systems and designs, and recommended the new AIO ozone system.
It was designed to be a chemical-free alternative to help fight high levels of iron, manganese, and sulfur. The AIO unit, though, gives off what some consumers see as a crystallization in the water. It is not harmful but can be aesthetically unpleasant to look at.
To alleviate that issue, the system can be backed with a post-carbon cartridge filter. The carbon filter removes any crystallization before it gets to the house.
Lastly, Jay recommended a standard water softener be installed to remove any water hardness before water enters the house.
I was nervous about the AIO ozone unit as not many have been installed in our area. The AIO is supposed to be 52% stronger than a chlorine-fed system. The unit has a clack valve filter head with a stainless steel CD cell mounted on the side. The unit also has 1.25 cubic feet of katalox-light media. This requires no potassium permanganate or chlorine.
The day of the install, we collected a water sample of the pre-filtered water in a water bottle as well as a post-filtered water sample after the install. The post-installation samples were vastly improved, compared to the pre-installation samples that had been taken.
The pre-installation sample was orange in color, and you could barely see through it. The post-installation sample looked like a bottle of water purchased at a store.
We knew we wanted to give the system a break-it-in period, so we decided to let it run for a few weeks before taking a final post-installation sample. I asked the homeowner to use water as normal, if not more than normal, to rid the fixtures and pipes of as much buildup as possible before taking the final sample and having it tested at the University of Georgia.
After receiving the final post-sample results, I could not wait to share them with the family. The results showed no iron was present and negligible manganese was found in the sample. The sample also showed the hardness was as close to perfect as possible and that the pH was in balance.
Making an Impact
Before this install, I had never felt such satisfaction from my work. Not only had we helped save the customer’s plumbing from corrosion and staining, but more importantly, we brought them relief in knowing that they didn’t have to worry about every glass of water potentially being harmful to a loved one.
I will continue to monitor the system as we like to do yearly maintenance and take yearly samples to ensure the filters we install are running at peak efficiency.
This is one of hopefully many positive stories I hope to be a part of in my career. My hope is also that the plumbing and water well industries continue to move forward making leaps in the field of water filtration systems.
Work experiences like this are something other plumbers and I can use to improve the quality of water and life in our communities as the technology continues to evolve.
Benjamin Strickland is one of the lead journeyman plumbers and well and filtration technicians for Armour Plumbing & Well Service in Athens, Georgia. Strickland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.