LiquiTech News

What is Sediment and What Impact Does it Have on Plumbing?

Sediment wreaks havoc on a building’s plumbing system. Damage to piping and equipment can be costly, and sediment creates an environment where bacteria thrive, and bacteria-reducing solutions must work harder.

The primary sediment source in building piping systems does not come from within the building, and the primary source is the municipal water supply. Sediment is already in the water before entering a building. Because of this, it can easily be missed or ignored. This is why we call sediment the invisible enemy.

Why is sediment so prevalent?

The US plumbing infrastructure is falling apart, and it is old and failing. There are more than 240,000 water main breaks per year.

  • Cast iron pipes from the late 1800s
  • Pipes were laid in the 1920s
  • Post-World War II pipes

The domino effect

The trip water takes from the municipality to the building starts a domino effect. The municipality typically injects chlorine or another chemical disinfectant into the water system. Chlorine is shown to cause corrosion, and as the water travels to the facility, three activities take place:

  • Sediment accumulates
  • pH level increases and
  • Bacterial activity increases

When the water reaches the building, the water quality is often poor, the disinfectant residual is low, and the disinfectant efficacy is decreased. Sediment levels have also increased.

What are the adverse effects of sediment?

Sediment introduces Total Suspended Solids (TSS) to a building’s water system. TSS (TSS) is the dry weight of suspended particles not dissolved in a sample of water that can be trapped by a filter that is analyzed using a filtration apparatus. It is a water quality parameter used to assess the quality of a specimen of any water or water body. It is listed as a conventional pollutant in the U.S. Clean Water Act.

Reduction in residual disinfection:

  • Either from the municipality or otherwise, sediment within the water is disinfected by the current method.
  • As the disinfectant performs its function, it is consumed and is no longer available for other disinfection functions.

Providing a food source for bacteria:

  • Opportunistic pathogens are in a classification of organisms known as heterotrophs, those that use carbon-based substances for their nutrition source.
  • Sediment can and will provide a carbon source of various quantities required to support bacteriologic life within water supplies.

Shielding bacteria from disinfection:

  • For disinfection to be effective against organisms, the disinfectant must come into contact with the organism in question.
  • Sediment can often act as a “Trojan Horse,” shielding the organism from disinfection while potentially carrying it into a water supply that provides suitable conditions for amplification.

Cost of increased equipment and infrastructure damage

  • Frequently, poor water quality, including that caused by sediment, results in damaged or broken equipment
  • Infrastructure life can be reduced
  • Operational costs increase, and new capital costs might be required

How do you combat sediment and its negative effects?

Point-of-entry filtration can significantly reduce sediment coming into the building from the municipal water supply. There are numerous filters on the market. However, they vary in efficacy and have various advantages and disadvantages.

Traditional filters include bags, cartridges, and sand. There are several concerns and disadvantages with conventional filters, including:

  • Loading & heat generation
  • Act as bioreactors for bacterial proliferation and amplify systemic contamination
  • Sand struggles with inefficient backwashing & channeling
  • Excessive consumable costs
  • Hazardous handling concerns
  • Subject to high-pressure losses
  • Nominal filtration rations
  • Significant wastewater rejection
  • Provide little data and have no alert or alarm systems

Positive results from reducing sediment

There are filters on the market with newer technologies, such as LiquiTech® Sediment Filtration System, that deliver a much higher efficacy with no negative consequences or shortcomings. The filtration system can remove the food source by reducing surface area and eliminating corrosion particulates. The technology reduces sediment and allows secondary disinfectants to perform at the highest efficacy while collecting predictive data.

When a facility chooses to remove sediment proactively, it improves the piping system and equipment in numerous ways, including:

  • Helps control bacterial growth
  • Improves functionality and life of the equipment
  • Reduces pump and valve failure
  • Reduces cost of equipment failure
  • Reduces damages to plumbing infrastructure
  • Improves results of a multi-barrier approach, including Copper Silver Ionization disinfection and Ultraviolet Disinfection
  • Reduces operational costs

Full-spectrum protection

The domino effect illustrates the importance of proactively reducing sediment and bacteria at point-of-entry. It shows how conditions in specific plumbing piping locations affect the entire plumbing system loop. A multi-barrier approach is the most effective way to protect the system at any site.

Sediment filtration to combat sediment when combined with Ultraviolet Disinfection to address cold-water side bacteria and Copper Silver Ionization to obtain non-detect Legionella levels provides a facility with the broadest spectrum approach for eliminating Legionella, waterborne pathogens, and waterborne HAIs.

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