Ways to Test Your Drinking Water at Home


Testing your drinking water is crucial as a homeowner. Your home water travels through miles of city plumbing before finally reaching your home. The water authorities in your city do their best to treat your water, but sometimes, your water picks up dirt and contaminants as it travels. Drinking this contaminated water is bad for you and can have severe health consequences. The ideal water supply should be clean, refreshing, and odorless, but sometimes, this just isn’t the case. 

Your water may give of unmistakable signs of contamination like bad taste and smell. Other contaminants are not noticeable and go on to do you silent harm.  Carrying out a water test is one way to be sure of the current state of your water.  In this article, we’ll share ways to test your home water and what to test your home water for. But first, let’s go into why a water test is so important. 

Why Do You Need to Test Your Water? 

There are thousands of impurities lurking in our water systems. They include chemicals, microorganisms, heavy metals, certain minerals, and pesticides, and they all have health implications or make your water hard to use. 

Impurities like microorganisms (bacteria and viruses) change the smell and taste of water. Others, like iron, change the color of water to a rusty-brown and make it unfit for use. 

However, other impurities like pesticides and heavy metals can be present in your water and show no noticeable signs. Hidden pollutants like these make it impossible to tell the state of your water, and this is where a water test comes in. 

Let’s make something clear; noticeable change to water or not, a water test is still important. If your water gives off certain smells or tastes, you’d have to conduct a water test to confirm your suspected contaminant. 

Knowing exactly what’s wrong with your water will guide you into buying the correct water treatment system for your home. Some home water filters remove specific contaminants and cannot be used for general water treatment. For instance, if your water test result reveals that disinfection byproducts are present, a catalytic activated carbon filter would be the best filter for the job.

What Should You Test for in Your Water?

When doing a water test, certain factors like your water source and the physical appearance (smell, taste, and color) of your water determine the type of water test you should do. 

A private well (groundwater) is likely to have pesticide contamination due to agricultural runoff from farmlands. If your water smells like rotten eggs, you want to test and confirm hydrogen sulfide. Hard water full of calcium also gives obvious signs like poor lather formation and scale buildup in your appliances. When you see these signs, you want to opt for a water hardness test to confirm.

Some common water contaminants to test for are fluoride, sulfide, nitrate, heavy metals, pesticides, and microorganisms.

If your water test reveals any of these contaminants, especially in amounts that can be harmful to your health, the next step to take is to install a suitable home water filter to remove the pollutants. Home water filters ensure that your water is clean and safe for use.

A whole house water system can filter all the above contaminants with one exception: It does not remove calcium from hard water. So if you’re having problems with water hardness you need to find a different solution, ideally a water softener.

You should carry out your water tests routinely, using any of the above methods that you find most convenient. 

How Can You Test Your Home Water? 

So your water has an off smell and taste, you have a problem with the color, or you need to be sure it doesn’t contain lead. There are different ways to test and confirm the particular contaminants causing bad water conditions.

DIY Test Kit

DIY (do-it-yourself) test kits are available for all your water test needs. They’re affordable and very easy to use; you don’t need to have any special scientific knowledge. To use a DIY test kit, you put a sample of your water into a tube and add a few drops of reagent. You’d see a color change that lets you know the result of your water test. Some DIY test kits are specific for some contaminants. For example, if you suspect a case of natural fluoride contamination, you need a kit that focuses on testing for fluoride. You can find different test kits at local stores and also on the internet. Some other DIY test kits can test for a wider range of contaminants.

Test Strips

Test strips are also used to test for water impurities. Just like test kits, test strips work by color change. The color change tells you the result of your water test. Test strips are cheap, but they are not as accurate as other testing methods.

Professional Lab Tests

Professional lab tests are the most accurate in testing your water quality. You can send a sample of your home water to a professional lab to get it tested. Different types of tests like chlorine, heavy metals, chemicals, and water hardness can be carried out by a professional water lab. Getting your water test done in a lab may be expensive, but it’s more accurate and saves you time and effort.

Annual Water Quality Report

An annual water quality report tells you the state of your water quality during the past year. It is given for free to every American using a public water supply. A water test is carried out on the public water system supplying your home, and the report is made available for you to check every year.