It’s three a.m., and you’re parched, but the prospect of traversing downstairs for water sounds unappealing. But wait! There’s a bathroom upstairs, which means there’s a faucet within close range – just a few steps away.
So, can you fill your cup from the bathroom sink? Is there even a difference between the water from the kitchen and bathroom faucets? Generally speaking, no, there’s no difference, but it depends on where you live. We’re here to explain, so stick around to learn more!
What Is The Difference Between Water From The Kitchen And Bathroom Sinks?
The differences between water from your kitchen and bathroom faucet vary based on where you’re from. As you’ve probably heard, tap water in some countries is unsafe to consume. While this is true for some areas, particularly third-world countries, residents in first-world countries usually don’t need to worry about this for their tap water.
For residents in the United States and Canada, there’s generally no difference between water from the kitchen and bathroom faucets. The water comes from the same place, and there are laws in place that help avoid contaminated water.
The only differences between these two water sources are how it gets there and where it’s going. While there are no differences between the water itself, there’s a higher chance for contaminants and bacteria in the bathroom (given its location).
Even still, there should be no significant contaminants in your bathroom tap water if your kitchen tap water is safe to consume. The only concern would come from the plumbing escorting the water from point A to point B. Generally, the plumbing in a home is installed all at once (unless you update parts of the system), so one section is usually in a similar condition to the plumbing in the rest of the home.
Now, if you have a filter on your kitchen faucet to remove specific contaminants, you might not want to drink tap water from your bathroom faucet (unless it’s filtered, too). Since the bathroom faucet comes from the same place, those same contaminants will remain in the water, given that it isn’t filtered.
What Happens If I Drink Water From The Bathroom Tap?
In most cases, nothing will happen if you drink water from the bathroom tap. If the tap water in your area isn’t safe to drink, you could get sick from consuming it. However, if that’s the case, the water from all water fixtures in your home won’t be safe to consume, as it comes from the same water source.
The adverse health effects of drinking contaminated tap water (from any tap in your home) range based on the contaminants in the water. According to the World Health Organization, contaminated water is linked to cholera, polio, diarrhea, typhoid, dysentery, and hepatitis A. These side effects are rarely a concern in first-world countries, including the U.S., as specific laws outline requirements for tap water.
However, it’s not unheard of for areas of the U.S. to receive boil water notices. If your area receives a Precautionary Boil Water Notice or Boil Water Notice, you might notice some mild side effects from failing to boil the water before consumption. Side effects can include diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, or nausea. If you experience any of these effects, consult your doctor or assistance.
What Factors Affect The Drinkability Of Tap Water?
An array of factors can affect the safety and drinkability of tap water. Generally speaking, you should be well aware of the safety of your drinking water, especially if you live within city limits. Here are a few factors that can affect the safety and drinkability of your tap water:
The source of your water plays a significant role in the drinkability of your tap water. If you live within city limits, you likely get your water from a municipal supplier. In the U.S., water suppliers are required to provide immediate notices to customers if the water becomes unsafe to consume, so there’s no guesswork.
However, there’s a little more uncertainty if you live in a rural area and draw water from a private well. Since a supplier doesn’t actively monitor these water systems, you won’t receive notices regarding contaminants. This means monitoring the water’s drinkability is entirely up to you.
Well systems are susceptible to changes in the water table, which can allow various contaminants to leach into the water. So, it’s essential to monitor the system regularly for contaminants to ensure it’s safe to drink. If you’re unsure, you can always test a water sample or have a water professional examine the well.
Older homes that haven’t been remodeled or renovated often have ancient, worn-out plumbing. Old plumbing is at a higher risk of leaching contaminants into your water supply, potentially making your tap water unsafe to drink.
For example, if you have galvanized steel plumbing and it’s corroded, your tap water might not be safe to drink. The problem with corroded galvanized pipes isn’t the zinc coating. Instead, it’s the lead and cadmium (they can exist in zinc due to the galvanizing process). These toxic metals can lead to various health effects, including vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, and nausea.
Or, let’s say your home has old copper pipes. If these pipes begin to corrode, they can leach copper into the drinking water, with levels that exceed health guidelines. When this happens, the water usually has a bitter or metallic taste. It’s typically easy to detect copper contaminants in your water, as it takes on a different color before presenting a significant health risk.
While some plumbing holds up better than others, it doesn’t hurt to get your water tested, especially if you have an older home. Of course, this won’t be a problem if you’ve recently renovated the plumbing system. However, if you’re unsure of the condition or type of plumbing in your older home, it’s not a bad idea to test the water for drinkability.
What Should I Do If My Tap Water Isn’t Safe To Drink?
The course of action you should follow for contaminated drinking water depends on the issue. For example, if your area receives a Boil Water Notice, follow the instructions – boil your water. Since drinking hot water might not be ideal, you can always boil large amounts of water and keep a pitcher in your fridge to cool it down before drinking.
Or, let’s say you’ve noticed a coppery tinge to the water or flecks from the plumbing in your water. Maybe you’ve noticed a strange taste in the water or have been sick for a few days without any explanation. In this case, we recommend testing the water and drinking bottled water until you get the test results back.
Alternatively, you can have a water professional come out and test your tap water. This might be a faster alternative than waiting on send-in lab test results, but it might cost more. Once you receive the results, you can plan accordingly.
Unfortunately, if the plumbing in your home is old and corroded, you’ll probably need to replace it. When one portion of the pipes is corroded, the whole system is often compromised. You can have a complete plumbing inspection done to confirm this, but the solution at this point is usually a full pipe replacement service.