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February 2018

Is Your Drinking Water Really Safe to Drink? How to Be Sure

safe drinking water

It’s fun to watch movies about backcountry hiking or read books about how to survive if you get lost in the woods.

These types of activities can spark your imagination as well as lively conversation.

But in many parts of the world today, finding sources of safe drinking water, food, and shelter is not a mental exercise but a daily necessity.

And even here in Canada, large-scale waterborne disease outbreaks have made news headlines as recently as 2010, with a death toll of seven right here in Ontario.

As modernized as our water treatment protocols have become, they are by no means failsafe or foolproof. As of 2015, a National Institutes of Health (NIH) article reported that half of all waterborne disease outbreaks occur in smaller drinking water systems.

Here, the primary causes have been either a failure of an individual water system or a failure of a local water treatment facility. Nearly 300 unique outbreaks were studied, each of which affected the drinking water in certain regions of Canada or the United States.

With statistics like these, how can you know for sure that your drinking water is really safe? We have the answer—and it isn't trusting the local water treatment centers!

Bacteria, Parasites, Fungi: Drinking Water's Hidden Dangers

What types of contaminants can lead to unsafe drinking water conditions? And what types of water systems are most vulnerable to contamination?

The NIH study showed that reservoirs, wells, water bodies, cisterns, and even underground springs are all vulnerable to contamination by a wide range of pathogens.

Bacteria, parasites, fungi, chemicals, viral matter, and other pathogens can enter these and other types of water supply systems in any number of ways.

Documented entry points include storms that lead to flooding, waterline breaches, sewer line backflow, inadequate filtration, and poor system maintenance. These and other similar factors have all been implicated in permitting pathogens to enter the water supply and contaminate drinking water here in Canada.

As well, as Canada's weather patterns are becoming more intense and unpredictable, floods, fires, and other extreme weather events are becoming more commonplace and placing more strain on city and rural water treatment systems from every direction.

Actions by homeowners and renters can have their own measurable impact. For example, as many as one-quarter of Canadians may be a carrier for Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii), a potent micro-parasite present in feline waste.

Simple improper disposal of used kitty litter can cause local water supplies to be infiltrated with this incredibly resilient micro-organism, which can cause irreversible fetal birth defects as well as toxoplasmosis in adults and children.

The Government of Canada points out that use of certain household chemicals such as cleaners, paints and solvents, bleach, adhesives and glues, pesticides, and oil products can leach into the water supply through storm drains and rain runoff.

Improper disposal of household items—everything from dental floss to diapers—can also cause major backups at local water and sewage treatment facilities, making the job of keeping drinking water supplies safe just that much more difficult.

What Works to Keep Your Personal Drinking Water Safe

As development continues and the human population increases, this places ever-increasing strain on all community systems. The local water treatment facilities are no exception. This means that we are all relying on each other to do our utmost to keep our shared water supplies clean and pure.

Luckily, you don’t have to rely on the “honor system” to make sure your own personal supply of drinking water is safe to consume!

As it turns out, the very best water purification technology isn’t human-made at all. It comes from our the sun. The sun emits ultraviolet light in three bands—A, B, and C. Bands A and B are already hard at work attempting to keep our planet from being overrun with toxins.

Band C is the most powerful natural purifier and cleaner of all, but the ozone layer that surrounds our planet keeps it from getting through into our atmosphere. Here is where nature and human ingenuity come together to do what neither can do on their own—keep your drinking water pure and safe!

Today’s ultraviolet water purification systems use human-generated UV-C spectrum light to neutralize 99.9 percent of waterborne toxins on contact. Unlike with chlorine and similar water additives, UV-C light doesn’t change the appearance or the taste of your water. It also doesn’t change the natural composition of your water in any way, other than to neutralize toxins that could impact your health.

When you add an ultraviolet light water purification system to your home’s water supply, you get lovely pure, clean, fresh water that tastes great and truly is safe to drink.

Ultraviolet Water Purification Maintenance

The use of UV light to purify water and air is not a new invention. It has been happening since the beginning of time naturally, and for many decades in commercial and residential applications.

Best of all, this type of system is incredibly economical to maintain. Aside from changing the UV bulb every 12 to 24 months, the system is self-maintaining. And you won't see a spike in your energy bill, either. A whole-home UV water purification system runs on the same amount of energy it takes to power a single 60-watt lightbulb.

Get in Touch

Here at Gravenhurst Plumbing, Heating & Electric, we have more than 70 years of industry expertise to serve all of your HVAC and plumbing needs. We are not just a local business. We are residents, too, and proud to call the Muskoka area home!

And remember, we are always on call for you with our 24/7 emergency repair service that includes holidays, weekends, and evenings. Contact us online, or give us a call at 877-885-3403 to request a free quote for an ultraviolet water purification system, learn about our line of standby generators, schedule HVAC maintenance, and more!

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Winter Temperatures Are Plunging: How to Heat Your Home in a Hurry!

temperature dropping

If there is one weather fact we can count on here in Canada, it is this: you just never know what a Canadian winter may bring.

This particular winter season is shaping up to be a memorable one for sure, earning an array of daunting headlines such as “grim,” “old-fashioned deep freeze” and “classic Canadian winter.”


But the good news is, it is never too late to warm up your home and workplace with efficient, effective heating solutions that can be installed without disruption to your home or work routines.

In this article, we review the newest heating technology so you can choose the option that best fits your space and needs.

All Heating Options Are Not Created Equally

If there is one thing we have learned in our 70-plus years of service to date, it is this: all heating options are not equally cost effective and efficient to install and use.

As well, some options take extensive renovations or retrofits, while others can feel as simple to install and use as plug-and-play.

Here, more space to heat doesn’t necessarily have to mean more complex heating solutions, either. Thanks in large part to the new wave of heating technology developed to address the unfolding concerns regarding climate change, today’s options are more compact and customization-friendly than at any other time in history.

Here are three examples of simple, turnkey heating solutions we particularly love:

Fujitsu Halcyon

One example is the Fujitsu Halcyon systems we love. These are zone-based ductless heating furnaces. These simple, compact, efficient, and low-maintenance heating systems can work equally well in a single-room efficiency apartment and a multi-story family home.

Best of all, the zone system makes it possible to target precise areas to heat and avoid spending to heat unused spaces.


Nuheat is an innovative new system to heat the cold floors by simply laying down customized mats, cables, membranes, mesh, or a suitable combination of these options.

Nuheat can be safely placed beneath tiles, wood flooring, marble, stone, laminate, and other types of flooring, including inside showers and sauna rooms. The heating is even and consistent and a Wi-Fi thermostat attachment (sold separately) can help you control heating and energy costs even further.

Electric Radiant Heating

An alternative to Nuheat is traditional electric radiant heating, which is now available in both permanent installation and portable versions. This is another way to provide even, targeted heating in specific areas within your space without paying extra for wasted heat energy.

Even better, with electric radiant heating, you don’t suffer the drying effects of traditional heated air systems, which can leave you more susceptible to cold, flu, nosebleeds, allergies, and respiratory discomfort.

’Tis the Season for Standby Generators

With all of our wonderful modern technology, it is so easy to forget all about the pure power of nature. One deep snowfall, one furious winter squall, one batch of ice sheeting, and there goes all of our modern winter comforts!

This makes winter a particularly ideal time to consider adding a standby generator as a source of limited or whole home emergency power. A standby generator can provide extra comfort during seasonal power outages. But it can do much more than that.

For those family members who rely on oxygen or assistive at-home medical devices, having a standby generator installed that will kick in when the power goes out can make the difference between life and death. In other areas as well, a standby generator can more than earn back your investment in just one incident by providing the power to save the food stores you have tucked away in your refrigerator and freezer.

One of the best ways to determine if now is the right time to invest in a standby generator to support your existing power grid is to ask yourself what is at stake if your power goes out for 24 hours or more. The questions in this blog post can help you determine whether this is the year to make this type of valuable long-term investment.

Rent a Heater—Yes, It Really Is Possible!

Sometimes it just isn’t the right time to invest in new heating equipment. Perhaps you don’t plan to live in your current home long-term or you have already made another significant investment and new heating equipment just isn’t in the budgetary cards at the moment.

Did you know you can rent heating equipment very affordably just for the times you need some extra heat?

Here at Gravenhurst Plumbing, Heating & Electric, we don’t want any family to have to shiver their way through the epic Canadian winter season! For this reason, we have started to offer heating and cooling equipment on a rental basis.

Our rental agreement is very economical. For every $1,000 in equipment value, you pay $15 per month per item you are renting. So, for example, let’s say you want to rent a furnace for six months. Here, you would pay less than $100 (with taxes) for your rental term.

There is also an option to purchase the equipment at any time during your rental term or at its conclusion. If you are ready to purchase new heating equipment but are not in a position to purchase it in full right now, this permits you to pay down a portion of your costs month by month until you are financially ready to make your purchase.

Perhaps the best perk that can come from renting heating equipment is the chance to try out a particular heating system to see if this is what you want to commit to on a long-term basis.

Get In Touch

Give us a call at 877-885-3403 to find out how our 70-plus years of heating expertise can support you so you can have the safest, warmest winter this year and every year!

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