Are you experiencing an odd taste, smell, or color in your water? Did you just move to a new area? Do you get your water from a well? If the answer to any of those is a yes; then you may want to test your water quality. Testing your water can be for specific contaminants, bacteria, or even alkalinity and water hardness.
There are many different reasons to test your water quality. There could have been a natural disaster or chemical spill in your area. If you are getting sick or pregnant it could be a great idea. Other reasons include recent issues with your well or just your regular testing upkeep. You may also notice a change in your water quality or perhaps do it before you get a whole home filter!
Public vs Well Water
There are two main ways that water is delivered to your home. The majority of Americans get their water from the municipal system. A public water system is managed by your city or maybe even your county. They are responsible for testing, treating, and maintaining the water supply. Well water is a private source of water. There is a well dug on the property and it is pumped to the home to supply any sort of water. Well water is managed by the property owner. They are responsible for testing, treating, and maintaining the water line. There are pros and cons to both systems.
What to Test
You must know what contaminants you want to test for or if you want a more general test. For example, if you have a well and there was a chemical spill you might just want to test for those specific contaminants. You will also want to know what contaminants that your test or laboratory will be doing.
The EPA and its certified laboratories do offer testing for your water quality. You can send a sample of your water to them, and some even can come to your home to collect a sample. This is the most expensive option on the list. However, that expense comes with more accurate and reliable results. You may want to do this after a home test if you are still concerned. If you own a well this might be nice to do yearly in addition to your other home testing.
There are also two types of home testing kits you can get, test strips and a powder version
Test strips are a great way to test your water quality on a budget. They aren’t very accurate, but they do give a great range of results. Test strips kits come in versions where they test your water quality for a few things or They will tell you what contaminant shows up and how much of it there is. One major benefit of the test strips is that they are a great on-the-go option! We recommend putting them in your emergency kits. Just in case water is turned off, compromised or you have to get it from an unknown source; it will be a good idea to test. If you like camping or hiking, we also recommend taking them with you!
The powder kits work by putting water into the tube, after mixing the color will indicate which type of contaminants may be present. These have more accuracy than the testing strips and are more expensive. However, for regular water quality testing, you may want to spring for the more accurate version.
The EWG (Environmental Working Group) publishes a tap water database, which you can search by zip code. These are their water quality test results, we recommend that you check your results against theirs. That way you can see if yours are higher than normal for the area.
There are a few things to make sure you do when you are doing a water quality test. The first is to make sure that you are washing your hands right before you test. This is because it can throw off the results if you happen to have any of the contaminants on your hand. It might be best to wash your hands with a bottle of water to ensure accuracy.
The second is to make sure that you are reading the instructions thoroughly. Any small missteps may make the test not be as accurate or it could not even work. We highly recommend you read them once before and while doing it.
Next, make sure you are opening the test strips only when you are ready to use them. They can be incidentally exposed to other things that will contaminate the test. If a little dirt gets on the strip, when water is introduced it could make it read as a false positive.
The EPA has made standards for water quality, the National Primary Drinking Water Regulations. This is the standard for drinking water and something else you can test against. City water plants use this as a baseline for water testing. You should get a yearly report of their results. Water testing should only happen for city water if you are curious or there is an issue. Well water users will need to test more frequently, and sometimes the best way to do that is at home with a yearly lab test.
Don’t hesitate to contact or call us at 1-Tom-Plumber (1-866-758-6237) if you need a plumber. We will immediately handle any emergency plumbing, drain cleaning and drain clearing, and water damage problem, including excavation of underground water lines and sewer main lines.