The Top 10 Most Frequently Asked Questions & Common Issues
Before phoning or emailing us, please have a look at these FAQs. If these don’t help or you have follow-up questions, please get in touch.
If there is no clear problem like water leaking from the UV, then it is two most likely scenarios:
A) If the beep is intermittent (i.e. a few beeps then a silent pause) on a Sterilight/Aqua/Viqua system, it is reminding you the UV lamp is due for its yearly replacement. Call or email us to schedule an appointment
B) The beeping is continuous or the system is wailing (Trojan UVs) and there are no LED numbers or letters displayed on the power supply readout. It is very rarely a problem with the UV lamp, it is more likely the power supply, but to be sure, try the following . . .
Unplug from power outlet and wait 10 seconds. Plug in again AND at the exact same time you are plugging in to power, press and hold the reset button (this is a small rubber nub on the side of the controller or a green or black button on the face of the controller). Hold button and wait for continuous beep and then let go of reset button. If LED light on the controller or display shows “365” or “0” or with older systems, is a solid green or red light and it stays lit and no more beeping, then all is good.
If not, then call us for service, unplug the UV from power outlet. You should assume your water is not potable.
Final tip – to help protect your UV power supply, do not put it on a circuit with a pump or other heavy-power-draw appliances; and use a good surge protector for the UV. When you get the unit repaired, you will need to re-sanitize your water lines with chlorine, and obviously until UV is operating again, your water is not potable.
If you are a seasonal resident, and no one is using the home for several weeks or months at a time, then we advise unplugging the UV and also importantly, shutting off your water valve supply going into the system. This should be a regular part of your home shutdown procedures. You will save money on annual maintenance costs, and many newer UV system controllers have a chip memory that will still keep track of days of lamp life. Otherwise, you will need to make a note of it. When powered back up, run a tap for a minute or so to get fresh sanitized water through the system.
If you are always coming back and forth to your seasonal residence (e.g. weekends), then chances are you may forget to plug in UV each time, so we advise just keeping it plugged in.
For a typical household with normal water treatment needs and standard sized filter housings (e.g. 2 – 10” filter canisters), change every 3 -4 months. “Big Blue” filter housings will require less changes.
Each system and water quality and pre-filtration conditions will affect the need for more or less filter changes, such as having an iron filter for removing iron and manganese, or that your rainwater cisterns are dirty and neglected.
Whether a UV system or not, always at a minimum 5 micron, and preferably 1 micron, as the last filter inline before it goes into the UV chamber. You need to have the water free of any particulates before UV sterilization.
If you have two filter housings, then the first in line from the water source should be a 20 micron followed by 5 or 1 micron just before UV.
If you have odour issues in the water, then you switch the order: 5 micron or 1 micron comes first from the water source, then a carbon block or GAC carbon filter is second in line, just before the UV.
For quality: we only use spun polypropylene filters and recommend and supply: Purtrex, Hytrex, Excelpure or Hypurion brands. We do not advise or use Rainfresh brand polystyrene (Styrofoam) filters as over the many years we’ve seen them in use, have noticed they are inferior at trapping sediment properly for most rural water supplies.
The answer largely depends on water source (rainwater or well), time of year, and type of smell. If it is just seasonal, you can use activated carbon block or GAC (granular activated carbon) filters. For more detailed exploration, please see our Resources and Information blog.
Yes, but with careful attention to NOT collect water during most of tree pollen season. On the south coast of BC, tree pollen starts raining down as a greenish-yellowish dusting on roofs, cars and lawn furniture, usually starting between early March and mid-April and lasting for 4 to 6 weeks. If it loads in your roof gutters and goes into your cisterns it will decompose and smell foul and stagnant at the tap and especially from hot water. There are best practices and techniques to follow to avoid this!
See our Resources and Information blog for more Tips on Rainwater Collection.
This often follows the question: How do I know if my water is safe to drink?
We always advise all homeowners select the “Home Safety Scan” test when you first move in and every 3 – 5 years thereafter (see Maxxam Labs in Courtney. This will give you the chemical and biological profile of your water. (As an Aquality customer, we can help you decipher what it means and we have extensive knowledge base of groundwater characteristics on the island.)
All water tests results only give you a snapshot in time. Water conditions can and do change over time.
If you have a properly maintained UV system, you can be completely confident your water is biologically safe. If you have a well and NO UV treatment system at all, you should at the very least test your water once yearly and when the water table is highest (mid-December – January) as that would be the greatest chance of contamination issues.]
For rainwater systems, the Home Safety Scan test is superfluous. You would just need a Bacteria test. We expect soon, there may be a BC government rainwater sampling protocol. Stay tuned.
We can do samples for a service fee plus the lab costs and courier charges. We send all our customers’ water samples to Maxxam Labs in Courtenay (there is no lab in Nanaimo). If you want to do it yourself, test bottles can be picked up at Arbutus Home Hardware. Consult the Maxxam website for more information, forms and sampling instructions. The sample must be couriered and arrive in the Lab in less than 24 hours via ACE Courier, or you can deliver to a Maxxam drop point in Nanaimo daily before a set time.
If you have an old well that has sat idle for years or know it to be obviously contaminated by an environmental issue (e.g. flooding, manure, well cap left open to the elements), then the well should be shock chlorinated.
This means adding household chlorine bleach (5.25% sodium hypochlorite) at a dose that far exceeds what is used to sanitize city drinking water supplies. Heavily chlorinated water is then circulated back down the well and allowed to sit for 24 hours before being pumped and purged until the bleach smell is gone. This is considered a major intervention as the dosage used is 1 -2 gallons of bleach in a typical 100 feet deep well.
Short answer: No!
What falls from the sky, lands on the ground and percolates through the soil and rock particulate becomes groundwater, held in the gaps between shale, rock and gravel. A drilled well creates a zone of collecting and drawing from groundwater that is protected from surface contamination.
Using the good work of the Gabriola Groundwater Management Society and our extensive knowledge base from delivering water services to hundreds of properties throughout the island over two decades, we know location matters. Gabriola has some excellent hydrogeological sweet spots with copious groundwater supplies. Other areas are low quantity and poor quality. We know most of those areas, and if you are considering buying a home on the island or have issues with your water, we suggest doing your research. Check the link below, and don’t be shy, ask the neighbours about the wellwater in the ‘hood.
Three of the most common issues we come across are wells going dry in the summer, bacterial contamination, and the common aesthetic problems of metals and minerals: Iron, Sulphur and Manganese causing staining and odours. Arsenic is not an issue on the island.
Thanks to our tax dollars, the RDN is working hard to learn more about Gabriola’s groundwater — quality, quantity, distribution and risks. This is the first phase report, and it’s a good read click here.