Here are the answers to the questions we’re most often asked:

Q. Why should I consult The Water Shed or seek out their services?

We’re a one-stop shop for all your water-related needs. We don’t subcontract out any of our services. Due to the many years we’ve spent working in this business, we have the training, ability and equipment to expertly address any water-related issues you face. Our product selection is unmatched in the region and we offer and manufacture systems that are customizable for your particular water problems.

We have more technicians than other companies and we have the biggest fleet of technicians and vehicles on the road in the province.

And as an added bonus, our reception staff are highly knowledgeable about the subject matter and the equipment. They can answer many of your technical questions so that you don’t have to wait to discuss your topic with a technician.

Q. What advantage does The Water Shed offer to home builders and general contractors?

The Water Shed installs complete turnkey (or start to finish) water systems for clients.

These packages can include well drilling, pump installation, water analysis and testing, water treatment, and geothermal heating and cooling systems.

We have special contractor pricing and packages.

Q: I have no water. Why does the pressure gauge on my pump or pressure tank say zero?

There are a number of possible reasons for your situation. Here are just a few steps you can take to save yourself time and perhaps some money too.

  1. If you have experienced a recent power outage, your “low level cut-off switch” may have shut your pump off. Look at the pressure switch (usually a grey or black box located near the pressure gauge) and follow the instructions on the side of the box closest the reset lever. No luck?
  2. Make sure the breaker or fuses used to operate your pump are not blown and that you have power to your pump. To find the breaker or fuses, follow the wiring from the pressure switch. Turn off the pump’s power supply and check the breaker or fuses. Got power, but still no water?
  3. Check to see if you have water in your well. This could mean having to remove the crock lid on a dug well and taking a look or it could mean removing the well cap from a drilled well and either taking a look or using a “dip string” with a weight on the end. Deep drilled wells are often difficult to sight because the static water level may be 50 feet or more below ground level. Got water, but still no luck?
  4. You may have a pump problem. If you have a jet pump installed somewhere near your pressure tank, check to see if it is overheating, humming but not turning, leaking, or has a burning electrical smell. If you have a deep submersible pump it is advisable to call a professional.

Q: Do you service equipment that you don’t sell? What if we bought a machine from another company?

Certainly we do! Our technicians are trained to service a wide array of brands including Lindsay, Bruner, Osmonics, Sears, Fleck, Culligan, Meyers, and many more. In some cases, parts for these machines may be hard to get so we keep a stock of new, used, and reconditioned parts on hand so you don’t have to wait.

Q. How can I be sure The Water Shed is certified to provide the water, geothermal and well services you advertise?

By law, we are required to be certified by the Department of the Environment for pump and well services. For our geothermal services, not only are we certified but we are accredited and qualified by the Canadian GeoExchange Coalition. We will happily provide you with our certification numbers!

Q: Is all your water testing free?

Typically water treatment companies provide water testing for hardness, pH, iron, sulfur, manganese, and other minerals. The results can help you determine if you need a water softener or other system. The Water Shed provides this testing with reasonable fee.

When it comes to dangerous substances such as bacteria (e.g. coliform) and arsenic, these tests must be carried out by accredited labs which do charge a fee. We can advise you on getting these tests and can also properly collect the sample and take it to the lab for a fee.

Q. What’s on display in your showroom?

Our bright and spacious showroom is situated in our new building. We have a large display of products and equipment on the floor, and while not all of our stock is on display, it’s right behind in our warehouse and we can easily find and show you exactly what you’re looking for.

On display, you will see UV sterilization systems, reverse osmosis equipment, a geothermal unit, and even a mock water well with the pump installed. We present a selection of water conditioners so that customers can see various tank sizes and valves. In our retail store, you can buy filters, UV replacement bulbs, and water conditioner units for the do-it-yourselfers.

Q. What happens if I’ve declined regular service for my water softener or other treatment system?

The Water Shed strongly recommends setting up a regular maintenance schedule for your installed equipment to keep it running efficiently and effectively all year long.

We offer a flat rate for this service and customers generally find there’s an overall cost benefit to having this in place.

If customers choose to opt out of the maintenance package at the time of installation, we can’t offer a flat rate for service calls or repairs. However, we always have a minimum of 5 technicians on the road at a time. Our servicing schedules group clients according to location to keep costs low and so that we don’t have to charge for travel time.

Q: Our water test showed that we have “total” coliform bacteria. What is that and how can we fix it?

Most labs in Nova Scotia test for the three most common forms of bacteria found in well water: E-coli, fecal coliform, and total coliform. E-coli and fecal coliforms are frequently associated with surface run-off. Total coliforms, which are very commonly found in dug wells, are generally associated with decaying vegetation and surface water run-off. In the vast majority of cases, a properly-sized Ultraviolet Sterilization System will solve any of these problems.

Q: How does an Ultraviolet/UV filter work?

Basically high intensity Ultraviolet rays are used to “scramble” the DNA in bacteria’s cells. The bacterium is rendered harmless and your water is safe. Hospitals for example, have been using commercial Ultraviolet sterilizers for many years. Recent advances in technology have made residential UV Sterilization Systems reliable and affordable.

Q: Why do my sinks have green stains?

Green staining is typically the result of low pH which is also known as acid water. The acid water causes the breakdown of copper in your water lines and appliances. It is the same effect as when a copper roof turns green with weathering. A treatment system using calcite as a neutralizing agent is the answer.

Q: Why are my sinks stained brown?

Brown staining is an indication of oxidized iron in your water. It can also be an indication that you have large amounts of sediment in your well. Your first step is a water test, and if the problem is iron, we recommend an iron filter. If the problem is sediment, we can resolve the problem with a large cartridge filter.

Q: My water has an awful smell, but it’s not there all the time. How do I fix this?

The most effective way to treat periodic smells is through the use of an air injection system. Smelly water is often associated with gases created by sulfur deposits. Manganese is also a source of smell in water and is often more easily detected in hot water.

Q: Is there a cheaper way to fix smell than using a chemical free water conditioner?

Some firms recommend the use of an air injector on a softener. WE DO NOT! Although it is cheaper in the short run, installing an injector on a regular softener shortens the life of the system and creates higher costs in the long term.

Q: I’ve got – iron or manganese or sulfur gas or hardness or low pH or a combination of these items – in my water. Do you have something to take it out?

We have the machines, filters, and filter media needed to address virtually any water problem you may have. However, each problem or combination of problems must be addressed on a situation by situation basis. For example, a combination of high-iron water and sulfur smell must be tackled in a different way than a simple hard water situation.

Q: My water is hard because it has iron in it. How can this be fixed?

First, water hardness is usually related to high levels of magnesium and calcium. It just happens that people with hard water often have high levels of iron also. There are a couple of approaches to these problems. The most common and reliable method involves a softener and salt regeneration system. Salt softeners employ a filtering media that traps iron, magnesium, and calcium. Periodically, the filter media is purged and regenerated and the minerals removed using ion exchange technology. The contaminated water is flushed away during what is called the backwash cycle.

Q: Can I install a water treatment system myself?

Yes. A person with basic plumbing and mechanical skills can install virtually any of the systems we sell. Cost savings vary with the type and size of machine.

Q: How often will our water treatment system backwash and will it hurt the septic system?

Water systems are designed and sized based on your water test results. The ideal design results in a system that backwashes at the most efficient rate for your individual needs and this is the standard we aim for. When iron, hardness, and other mineral levels are extremely elevated, or when water consumption is high, filtering material has to be regenerated more often.
Water treatment systems that use sodium ions (salt) for regeneration purposes are not harmful to a properly functioning septic field. The theory behind sodium ion exchange has been tested in laboratories and the field for several decades. It has been proven beyond a doubt that the systems are safe.
Some people have been concerned about the volume of backwash water going into their septic field and have worried about damage. However, the average person uses about 50 – 60 gallons of water per day. Therefore, a family of four could be expected to consume and release about 1,500 gallons of water per week. The average backwash uses between 50 and 90 gallons during its cycle. So at the high end of the scale, on a once-a-week regeneration cycle, the backwash adds 6% per week more water to the septic system. It is important to note however, that when people use hard water (untreated) for washing clothes, showering, and so forth, they end up using more water for lathering and rinsing. The net advantage of treating water far exceeds any potential septic system down-side.

Q. I’m confused about how to adjust the valve and set the timer on my equipment. I also need advice on how to do a bypass. Can you help?

You can give us a call during our regular business hours and we can guide you through it. We can help trouble-shoot virtually any issue involving water treatment systems.

Q: If I buy a softener that uses salt, does the water taste or feel salty?

Most salt is backwashed out of the system, but when the cycle is over, the water remaining in the media tank can contain slightly higher than normal levels of saltwater. This salty water will be used up very quickly the morning after a backwash cycle.

Q: This is my third water heater in two years – what’s going on?

Rapidly deteriorating hot water tanks are often associated with low pH, also called acid water. Manganese can also cause problems with water systems particularly in hot water. The first step to solving this problem is a water test. Once a low pH problem has been identified, there are a couple of tried and true approaches. One method uses calcite as an additive to neutralize the acid water. Some people prefer chemical treatments using sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) to increase pH. Manganese treatment is similar to iron treatment.

Q: My pipes have developed holes – why has this happened?

This is another problem associated with low pH or acid water. A water test and pH adjustment is probably in order.

Q: Do you have a “lease-to-own” program?

Yes we do. We offer in-house lease-to-own programs to qualified customers. Our leasing program is made easy by our auto-debit plans. You choose a repayment time frame and we do the rest.

Q: Do you have a rental program?

Many of our systems are available on rental plans. Rental fees start at $20.00 per month. Call us to see if the system you need is available on the rental program.

Q. What is geothermal energy?

It is a process that uses direct geothermal energy for heating and cooling applications. By using the energy of the sun stored in the earth, a geothermal system can keep you comfortable throughout the whole year.

Q. Why should I choose a geothermal system?

Geothermal energy is a green option for heating and cooling your home because it uses renewable energy. In addition to being ecologically sound, you can reduce your heating costs by up to 66%.

Q. Why choose a geothermal heat pump over a mini split or ductless heat pump?

There are two main reasons: 1) efficiency and 2) comfort.

Mini split heat pumps are relatively easy and cost-effective to install, but they aren’t as efficient as a geothermal heat pump. That’s because mini splits collect heat from the outdoor air, whereas geothermal heat pumps collect heat from the ground. Since the outside air temperature varies dramatically from season to season, while the ground temperature stays high consistently, geothermal heat pumps far more efficient. Their efficiency is what saves you money.

Secondly, geothermal heat pumps are considered better than mini splits on account of the comfort they provide throughout your whole house. Mini splits operate from a central point in the home (usually in the main living area). This can leave bedrooms or spaces further away from the central delivery point colder or hotter, depending on the season. Geothermal heat pumps, by comparison, deliver centralized heating and cooling through the ductwork. Every room stays at a consistent temperature all year long, keeping you more comfortable.

Q. What is the difference between horizontal and vertical ground loops?

The ground loop is a key component of a geothermal heat pump system. To operate at the most effective and efficient level, the correct placement of the ground loop is critical. And the placement will depend on your property and other factors at your home or building. Both vertical and horizontal loop systems work equally well, but often the choice between them will be dictated by how much ground space is available for the loop.

Horizontal systems are the most common: they are installed over a wide area so a considerable amount of space is required. The pipes are typically buried 6 to 10 feet underground, in trenches around 100 feet long. The piping for the ground loop may be coiled and stacked. By comparison, vertical systems are positioned in holes drilled deep into the ground (400 feet or more) and about 20 feet apart.

Horizontal ground loops are commonly found in rural or suburban areas, or business and commercial parks, where the trenching for the pipes can be readily accommodated. Installation is easy and convenient when architects and builders plan specifically for geothermal installation before construction.

In urban and some suburban areas where ground space is limited, vertical systems are likely to be installed. Certain soil conditions (e.g. thin topsoil or rocky soil) may also require the use of a vertical loop system.

Q. I have an existing heating system. Can my home be retro-fitted to geothermal?

For a retrofit situation, the geothermal split system creates a hybrid heating system in the home by adding geothermal to an existing furnace. In this case, the existing furnace acts as a backup system for extreme temperatures. The geothermal heating coil fits above the existing furnace, and is connected to a remotely located geothermal compressor section to provide all of the cooling and the majority of heating. In older homes this is a more cost-effective solution compared to increasing the electric service capacity necessary for an all-electric system. If the home is undergoing major renovations, or the furnace is being replaced, then an all-electric system can also be an option.

In addition, geothermal systems can be equipped with a device called a “desuperheater” that heats household water, which circulates through the regular water heater tank. In the summer, the heat taken from the house is used to heat the water for free. In the winter, the desuperheater can reduce water-heating costs by about half, while the conventional water heater meets the rest of the household’s needs. In the spring and fall when temperatures are mild and the heat pump may not be operating at all, the regular water heater provides hot water.

Q. Are rebates available for installing a geothermal system?

Yes. Periodically Efficiency Nova Scotia offers rebates on geothermal installations. To be eligible for these rebates, the geothermal system must be designed and signed off by an accredited Canadian GeoExchange Coalition designer. The Water Shed has 2 CGC designers on staff so we are well placed to help you!

Q. How much does it cost to drill a well?

That depends on a variety of factors.

Wells are typically priced on a per-foot basis for both drilling and the steel casing. Well drilling rules require that steel casing be driven firmly into bedrock to seal out surface water.

Therefore, the location of the bedrock will influence the price of the well: a well drilled in an area with bedrock near the surface may only need the minimum 20’ of casing, while a well drilled in an area with lots of overburden may need to be cased for hundreds of feet.

Q: As a homeowner who needs to have a well drilled, what do I need to know about rules & guidelines?

The Water Shed must adhere to a number of important rules, in accordance with guidelines laid out by the Department of the Environment and with local building codes.

The basic rules are:

  • Do not drill a well closer than 50 feet from any part of a septic system.

  • Do not drill a well closer than 5 feet from any property line.

  • Do not drill a well closer than 2 feet from a structure such as a pump house.

You can get more information at the Department of the Environment website. There you will find their online publication called Before You Construct a Water Well.

Q. Can The Water Shed advise me on where to locate the well for my new house?

Yes, the placement of your well is critical. It must be drilled in accordance with the Department of the Environment rules regarding matters such as property lines, your neighbours’ wells and septic systems, public roads, and nearby buildings.

Q. For new home construction, what is the best time to drill a new well?

The optimal time to drill your new well is before any excavation has begun on the property and certainly before the foundation is poured.

Q. What can I expect in terms of water quality and quantity from my new well?

These are not predictable and depend on things like the minerals in the rock below and the aquifer. You can consult your neighbours but even at that, your results may be different.

Q: How much is a pump for my well?

Prices for residential water pumps range dramatically depending upon the type of well, the depth of the well, available power sources, and so forth. The best idea is to call our office and describe your situation so we can provide an accurate quote.

Q: Why is my pump going on and off every few minutes?

A “cycling” pump is often a signal that either your foot valve (located in the bottom of the well) has failed or that your pressure tank is waterlogged, the bladder has failed, or has insufficient air pressure. Foot valve failure can only be solved by replacing the valve. A waterlogged pressure tank can be emptied of water, a new air charge added, and the system recharged with water. If this does not work, your bladder has probably failed, and you would need a new tank.

Q: Why do I have low pressure at my taps?

If you are new to pumps and wells (perhaps you’re used to municipal water), you may find that the water pressure seems low by comparison even though everything is fine.

If there is a problem with the water pressure and it is actually low, it could be from one of a number of causes. For example, your pressure switch may be set to a lower pressure and could be adjusted upward by following the instructions written under switch cover lid. You may have an in-line filter in the system that is plugged up and restricting water flow. Or it could be that some other device in the system is plugged. The first step to diagnosing a low pressure problem is to see if the pressure is low at more than one tap or fixture. You might find that the tap screen is filled with sediment or hardened manganese from the hot water system, for example.

Q. Our well needs to be shocked. Is this a service you provide?

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Yes, this is something The Water Shed can do for you. It is a relatively easy procedure and if you wish to learn how to chlorinate your well, the Department of the Environment contains excellent information and easy-to-follow instructions:

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We provide water testing – as one of our longstanding services.

Contact us for any inquiries whatsoever, including estimates and expert advice.