A lot can happen to your water supply from the time your local water utility treats it to the time it comes out of your faucet. Well water is subject to additional concerns.
Reasons You May Want to Test Your Water
Here are some of the main reasons why you should test your home’s water:
- If a resident of your home is pregnant, she’ll want to know that the water she is drinking and bathing in is safe; the same is true if there is a newborn in the house
- If your home was built before 1986, when EPA rules tightened requirements about using lead solder with pipes
- If your municipal water system is old, uses lead pipes, has experienced water main breaks or is known to have corroded or damaged pipes
- If there has been a recent industrial or chemical spill or accident near your home
You may also want to get your water tested if it smells bad or causes discoloration on surfaces or fabrics. Call your local health department and report what’s going on with your water, and find out what they recommend. If you’re not satisfied with the answers you get, go ahead and test your water anyway.
How to Get Your Water Tested
You have a few different choices of how to go about having your water tested. You can hire a professional affiliated with a certified lab. The Environmental Protection Agency has a helpful webpage allowing you to search for certified testing laboratories. The downside is that hiring a professional to come out and test your water is often expensive.
Home water testing kits have improved, but you must do some research based on the source of your water to decide what kinds of chemicals, metals, or other contaminants the test you use should detect. If you’ve decided you have good reasons to test your home’s water, choose a kit made specifically to test city or well water, depending on your water source.
Another way to test your water is a home/laboratory test combination. Similar to those home DNA tests that have become so popular, you collect samples in your home and send them away to a lab for testing. With this type of testing, the company sends you a test kit, and you send samples of your tap water in containers they provide back to a certified lab. Again, you’ll choose a kit specific to your water source—city or well water. Other kits available test for specific types of contamination you may be worried about.
When the lab receives your water samples, they’ll test your water based on the kit you chose and make recommendations about whether you should do something, such as adding a water filter. Before choosing a company that provides this send-away service, look for examples of the reports they provide to check if you find them clear and understandable.
Choosing a Water Filter
Know that water filters come in varieties that remove some types of contaminants but not others. You must research which type of filter you should get. The testing company you choose should be impartial and independent of any arrangements with filter suppliers. That way, they can make an objective recommendation that’s based on the test results, not on trying to sell you any particular brand or type of filter.