How To Test Your Water Quality The Easy Way

Updated on May 13, 2020

Have you made sure that your house’s tap water is clean and free of harmful contaminants, lead, bacteria and other impurities? If not, then this article is your saving‌ ‌grace‌.

The reason why you should take this seriously is that we use tap water to bathe ourselves, brush your teeth and wash our clothes. To know how to test water quality, here’s what you need to do:

Look‌ ‌Out‌ ‌For‌ Contaminants and ‌Pollutants‌

Even with local water companies on the job, there are still a handful of pollutants that end up making their way into our tap water supply, such as:

  • Arsenic – usually found in soil and rocks that are rich in arsenic, forest fires, and volcanic activity. It can also be found in several human activities such as mining, manufacturing, poor paint disposal, and more.
  • Lead – found in the plumbing fixtures and pipes in our house.
  • Pharmaceuticals – found in antidepressants, antibiotics, hormones, painkillers, and anti-anxiety meds.
  • Farming chemicals – pesticides, nitrates/fertilizers, herbicides, and more
  • Iron – orange or yellow in color. Might cause stains on fixtures and laundry, and lead to bitter taste in water.
  • Disease-resulting bacteria – the most common types of bacteria that cause diseases include E.coli and coliform. Other types include fecal streptococci and fecal coliform.
  • Pathogens – contaminants that haven’t been properly treated in your local water supply, including parasites, viruses, and bacteria.
  • Radioactive materials – those that result from gas and oil production or occur naturally.
  • Manganese – can cause water to turn purple or black, could stain fixtures and result in a bitter taste.
  • Lead – caused by old brass pumping components and leaded solder.
  • Hard water – likely due to calcium carbonate (salt). It could possibly be from your water softener system, so if you want to learn more tips on how to repair it, visit American Home Water and Air

1. Use‌ ‌A‌ ‌Home‌ ‌Testing‌ ‌Kit‌

It’s important that you know how to test water quality at home.  The quality of your water supply depends on a number of factors including, the concentration of pesticides, lead, bacteria, hardness, chlorine, and the pH value as well. 

So the only way to know whether you’re tap water is free of all the nasties we’ve mentioned above, best to buy a home water testing kit. Various companies supply these kits, but they all have the same function. 

These kits contain test strips that you need to place in your water supply to see if they change color based on the mineral content of the water. Then match the results with the color chart that came with the testing kit. 

Keep an eye out for a testing kit that contains strips for lead, pesticides, hardness, chlorine, and pH value. If there’s only one strip that comes with your kit oh, then it’s possibly only for testing pH. 

Be sure to go through the instructions that come with your testing kit. They will help you explain how long you need to expose the strip to water and what its temperature should be. 

Now remove the strip from the water. Get the strip out of the glass and then shake it to remove any excess water. Now, wait until the strip slowly changes color, and then compare it with the color chart that came with your testing kit.

Whatever color shows on the chart, will determine what type of substance is in your water supply and what the level is like. You will know whether these levels are either hazardous or acceptable. 

2. Send the Samples‌ to a Testing Lab

If you’re still not sure about whether you’re doing the right thing, then it’s time to get professional help. Those professionals know a thing or two about how to test water quality in the lab and there are plenty of them out there to which you can go to and consult their expertise. 

The labs can also provide you with their own professional water testing kits that can help you test for common contaminants as well as specialized tests for other substances like uranium and radon depending on your personal issues and location.

Not only that, but the labs also offer tests for tap water that come from city treatment plants as well as well water, making them an excellent choice for most homeowners. The most affordable test will cost around $50 whereas the more expensive one can stretch up to $400. That’s why it’s always good to see what you’re looking for before you purchase a water testing kit for yourself.

3. Use‌ ‌Your‌ ‌Senses‌

The easiest way to know how to test the quality of water is by using some of our God-given senses and some common sense at that,  and it doesn’t even have to cost a dime. 

One of the first tricks that you need to deploy in your favor is by smelling the water. It might surprise you to know, but even a professional water engineer would first test your water supply by smelling it, tasting it and then visually examining it later on. 

Some of the smells that you need to look out for include:

  • Rotten egg: if you detect any sulfur or rotten-egg-type smell, it means that there are bacteria growing in your water supply. To know if this is true, first take a sample of water in a glass and take it to another part of your house. Wait a couple of minutes before smelling it. If you find that the water is in smelling anymore, then the bacteria is growing within your drain and should be cleaned on its own. If the smell is still lingering on pretty strongly, then you should give your local municipality a call. 
  • Bleach: This is probably due to the chlorine that your local treatment plant puts into your water in order to make it safe and clean to drink. However, the smell usually goes away after it is exposed to the opener for a little bit. You can also buy a water filter to get rid of that smell. 
  • Musty – this is probably due to the decaying of organic matter. It could be the result of what’s inside your drain or even the water. But even though the smell is annoying, it is usually harmless.

For more information, visit Radon Testing And Mitigation PNW.

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