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How to Test Home Water Quality

How to Test Home Water Quality – and Why You Really Should

If you have some doubts about the quality of the water in your home, it is necessary to check and take appropriate measures about it.

With such a wide variety of water filters, treatment additives, purification systems  on the market, it can be hard to sort-out what you need to solve water quality problems in your home.

This is where water quality testing -- be it from water quality testing equipment, water testing kits, or a laboratory -- can help you make the proper decisions to tackle your water issues.

For understanding your water quality problem a bit better, and for getting a better idea of how to get the best quality water in your home, it is essential to get a basic understanding of the problem of water contamination.

There are lots of factors to consider when testing your water, ranging from where your water is sourced, if it is purified first and the materials and cleanliness of the pipes used to transfer it.

Make sure you know what is actually hiding on your water with this guide to testing water quality. 

In this guide, we cover the selection of options available and what sorts of contaminants you need to think about testing for - and why.

Finding the ideal water filter system to protect your home first and foremost depends on understanding which contaminants will need to be filtered.

There are lots of different techniques of water filtration, and each specializes in removing pollutants from water. If you know what substances lurk on your water, you can find the water filter that is very best for coping with them.

Fortunately, testing the quality of water and found what’s present in it has never been easier — many methods that can be used and in this particular post, we will describe each of them in detail.

Water Quality Testing

Test Home Water Quality

Who Wants Water Quality Testing?

Based on the area in which you live, you most likely get water from your connection to a public water utility, catchment system or a well.

If you get your water from a government supply, it's probably tested by a lab to assess the water quality and contamination profile. These tests should be sufficient to detect contaminants before they reach your dwelling.

If you're experiencing issues with your house water supply although connected to a public water utility, it's likely that your house plumbing has problems like chemical substance pollution from the local pipe.

If your water source is a well in your home (especially if you are responsible for handling the well), it is crucial to perform regular tests for water quality to be sure that the well water is safe to consume.

Improperly built or shielded wells can become infected by animals, debris, or natural disasters at any time. Well, which often come in contact with bodies of water have the potential to change composition introducing contaminants that are fresh.

Know When to Test Your Drinking Water

How to Test Home Water Qualit

Still, if your drinking water appears to be crystal clear and you ought not to be relaxed. The drinking water which seems to be clear is not always considered as safe for consumption.

Contaminants like lead are odorless and colorless, making them specifically problematic. You cannot be entirely sure your water is safe to drink by merely looking at it.

But that does not mean you must depend on bottled water to remain safe... only you ought to understand a few things about water contamination and some best measures to prevent it.

It is your most important duty to test your home drinking water for contaminants and pollutants on a regular basis. You can check the pH levels of your water efficiently using simple test strips.

Apart from the regular test, there are also clear indications that should alert you - if you see any of the following signs, stop drinking and using your water - and get it tested ASAP:

  • Water has strong chlorine taste and odor. The existence of chlorine is a sign that it's being treated in a water treatment plant. The treatment is required to disinfect the water and kill off any bacteria and other harmful compounds that may be dissolved in the water. However, chlorine itself may develop harmful by-products.  
  • Water tastes metallic. The salt-like or iron flavor of drinking water can be a result of high mineral concentration in the water system. It may be some other kind of mineral including manganese, or iron.
  • Water smells like rotten egg. This may be an issue, as the odor of rotten eggs is a sign that there's a decayed organic matter underground. The odd smell comes from the existence of hydrogen sulfide gas which might have been picked up from the water as it passed through. Another potential reason for the rotten egg odor in the presence of bacteria, so either way, you will require to have your water tested.
  • Water has color. We all agree that water should be crystal clear so if you realize that your drinking water has some color, it's no longer drinkable. Just so that you know, if the water turns rusty, red or brown, it's usually an indicator of the occupancy of manganese or iron.
  • If water has a greenish or bluish color, it might be an indication that there are chemical compounds in your water. If the water looks muddy, white, or foamy, it can be due to turbidity which might be brought on by a significant amount of individual particles hidden to the naked eye.

Other reasons to test your drinking water include:

  • Your family experiences recurring gastrointestinal troubles
  • Someone in your family is pregnant.
  • Your water supply is adjacent to a septic tank
  • You've noticed a leaking gas tank near your water source
  • There's livestock nearby, or you've blended some pesticides and other chemicals near your water source
  • Your home is near to an oil or gas drilling corporation, a chemical plant, a mining operation, a gas station, a landfill, a heavily salted roadway or a junkyard.

How The Clean Water Act Affects The Quality Of Water

Water pollution can bring serious consequences. To protect the Environment the harmful effects of water contamination, in 1948 that the U.S. Congress regulate the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, which then modified in 1972 and became universally known as the Clean Water Act.

The Clean Water Act established surface water criteria and significantly improved the quality of much of the country's water, considerably reducing toxic pollutants and industrial discharge.

The Great Lakes, together with many other bodies of water, have been wholly rejuvenated because the Clean Water Act came into effect and many people have access to pure drinking water.

Things That Water Testing Can Determine

Test Home Water Quality

There are many things that water quality testing can determine.

There's obviously the principal concern of harmful contaminants in water, but we can also check the water hardness and the water's pH.

Water hardness is due to minerals such as magnesium and calcium cause lime scale buildup that destroys pipes and appliances.

If the water has PH level less than 7, it is acidic. Low-pH water is terrible for our well being and corrodes pipes and fittings.

Pollutants can be analyzed for, including germs such as fecal coliform.

Proper water tests will detect a range of water contaminants that are harmful plus disease-causing organisms in a water sample.

If you are unsure what you should be testing for then, you must go through this complete post.

NOTE: These guidelines are taken from the EPA manual. They apply more to homes with private well water, but are helpful for everybody.

How to Determine Water Quality?

How to Test Home Water Qualit

Fundamentally, there are three ways to find out the quality of your drinking water.

1. How To Get Water Quality Tests For City Water

Get a Water Quality Report

Law requires your local water municipality to check the water regularly. This report is published yearly in the kind of a Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) issued by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). The CCR for your area will let you know what is in it, and where your water comes from. Best of all it is free.

There are several facts that you must know about these reports. They provide the reports of water quality testing which may have been done in the previous months. Things can change over a brief period, so take that into account.

Also, they're the results of testing performed at a central point (generally the water treatment plant). The water can become contaminated to your dwelling from the plant on its journey. For a read-out that is indeed accurate, the water has to be analyzed at your residence.

The other way of getting a water quality report like this is to contact the local water company.

It is important to note that people with water supplies are not provided with these reports, and have to treat their water on their own. Hints 2 & 3 are far relevant in case you've got a great water source.

2. Test For Pollution In Water

Use Your Senses

Most of the times, you can analyze the quality of your water by using your senses. You can start with smelling a glass of tap water. Does it feel like bleach?

Water treatment plants use bleach, but too much bleach may be of concern. Smell eggs? There could be hydrogen sulfide gas in your pipes that could be an indicator of water contamination and sulfur bacteria.

Notice the color of your water through transparent glass. A brown or similar appearance could indicate that there is rust on your pipes. Too many particles should be reported to the regional municipality.

Tasting the water may also help determine if there is anything wrong with your water. If your water has a metallic taste, it is due to rust in the pipeline. While if the water tastes like a bleach flavor that could indicate the presence of too much chlorine. Bear in mind if the flavor is too foul, that you ought to spit out your water.

Get a Home Water Test Kit

Getting a home water test kit you can instantly check the quality of water. This is the most effective method to get accurate results. A home water testing kit can be a powerful tool and is affordable. Home kits can give an excellent indication of whether additional testing is necessary, although a lab evaluation is the critical standard of water evaluation.

Drinking water quality test kits can be purchased from home improvement stores, wholesale stores as well as online stores. Utilizing these kits, you can evaluate if your drinking water contains any lead, nitrates, bacteria, chlorine, pesticides, pH and hardness.

Some test kits check for less common contaminant such as copper, sulfate, iron, and sulfide. Some of the benefits of using a water testing kits are they're fast (since you can quickly get the results), inexpensive, and easy to use.

The kit comes in a complete package of test strips consisting of reactants. Exposure of those strips into your drinking water will make their colors change to indicate the existence of the contaminants from your water.

Please understand the fact that these water testing kits cannot be accurate in comparison to lab tests. If your drinking water does not contain a high level of pollutants, the home test kits might not be able to test for all harmful contaminants.

Let us take a look at the water test kits that measure hardness, pH and also contaminants:

First Alert WT1 Drinking Water Test Kit

How to Test Home Water Qualit

Tests For: pH Chlorine Lead Nitrates Pesticides Bacteria Hardness

The First Alert kit provides a reasonably comprehensive analysis and great value. Unlike many home water test kits, this Alert kit offers you a Digital ppm (parts per million) grade for each particular product. This sort of report is more useful than a general water quality score. This makes it one of the most demanding water kits available.

The kit will provide you with instant and accurate results. The bacteria test will take around two days. The water quality tests are conducted to EPA standard and don’t need laboratory work for the results. This also doubles up as a water hardness kit.

WaterSafe Well Water Test Kit

How to Test Home Water Qualit

Tests For: Chlorine Lead Iron Nitrates Bacteria Copper Pesticides pH Hardness 

This is a great water quality test kit perfect for checking the Output of wells. This means it will detect heavy metals such as iron, aluminum, and lead, which are more prevalent in water supplies. It is going to detect ten contaminants that are distinct, which is a high return.

This kit provides numerical PPM results that can be analyzed according to EPA guidelines for each contaminant. The suggested instructions are included in this kit.

Well, water must be tested for contaminants at least once a year so these drinking water test kits can save you plenty of bucks corresponding to hiring a lab.

HM Digital TDS Meter

How to Test Home Water Quality

Tests For: Total Dissolved Solids

The drawback of the water test kits which we have mentioned above is they can only be used once. With a digital TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) meters, you are liberated to measure as many times as you want.

There is a difference in what the two types of testing kits measure. You're not currently identifying which contaminants are present in your water by measuring the number of dissolved solids. You are getting a value that represents the number of particles in water.

This implies that it doesn't differentiate between contaminants and healthy minerals. For instance, you might have water that's free of contamination but contains high levels of metals such as magnesium and calcium. This water would provide a TDS meter reading.

These meters are high in the right circumstance. If you get a reverse osmosis filter system, these are good for measuring the efficiency of your unit. RO systems remove the particles above the specified size from the water.

In other words, the TDS reading will be low from an efficient system. If the meter reading begins to grow, this means that the filters have become less active and indicated it is the time to change it.

Most of the RO systems do not usually have meters to warn that there is a need to change the filters. If you are also using this kind of system, you should make sure you always change the filters in the optimum time (if the general water quality begins to decrease) to maintain drinking water quality. This way you can replace them out while your water is safe to drink.

Note: This will not work for RO units that contain Remineralization Filters that adds magnesium and calcium minerals back to the water.

3. Get it tested by a Laboratory

This is the most costly method, and sometimes it takes several days or weeks to obtain the results. Nevertheless, you can be confident that the figures are as accurate as possible. You can search online to locate the nearest EPA approved testing lab.

This report should contain information any contaminants that might be present in your water source. This report should provide details to you and alert you if there are any health risks.

You should be able to clarify your concerns and get recommendations based on their own their awareness. They should have all the facts about the security level of water locally.

Send a water sample to a laboratory for obtaining a detailed testing result. These professionals can assess your water for about many various contaminants, which include volatile organic compounds, toxic metals, heavy metals, and germs. Before you can find the results, it could take a couple of days, but it'll be well worth the wait.

People who have fresh water supplies (such as owners of personal Wells) do not have the leisure of getting their tap water examined by the local water municipality. The laboratory testing is the ultimate option for them.

How Can I Test Water Turbidity?

How to Test Home Water Quality

Turbidity is the "muddiness" of water. The muddiness usually comes from dead particles in the water. These suspended particles may be dirt, algae, minerals, oils, proteins, or bacteria. To measure the muddiness in water, we could use visual strategies or turbidity meters. However, the best way to measure turbidity is using a Nephelometer (turbidity meter). Meters are sensors utilizing a light source and photodetector to determine the presence of particles in a water sample.

Final Thoughts

Test Home Water Quality

Water quality is a serious concern, with health effects in the short- and long-term. Evaluation of the quality of your drinking water using chemical analysis of water is an essential step towards keeping clean, pure drinking water.

Do not think twice to seek out professional help and Laboratory water quality evaluation. There are no products which can offer the type of quality water quality assessment that lab can produce.

Seek out a water quality specialist for a detailed evaluation after you get positive results from a testing kit. Before going with laboratory testing, testing with at-home test kits is recommended.

If you have identified your home is not having clean and safe drinking water, it's crucial that you do something about it! Poor quality water not only contains odor and flavor, it may have consequences for your health as well as your loved ones, and even your pets also require water. A simple solution may be provided in the form of a whole-house water filter.

We believe that this post will be helpful in evaluating the water quality and the consequences associated with it. The day you find out you have poor quality water, you must start looking for the best possible solution. Remember, sooner is the better!

Ed Carmichael

About the Author Ed Carmichael

Ed is a water specialist in Tampa, FL. He built to help his friends and family learn about DIY solutions to common water quality issues in the home.

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