Use Water Testing To Make Sure Your Water

The National Ground Water Association (NGWA) recommends well owners test their water at least annually for bacteria, nitrates, and any contaminants of local concern. More frequent testing should be considered if.

There is a change in the taste, odor, or appearance of the well water, or if a problem occurs such as a broken well cap, inundation by floodwaters, or a new contamination source

The well has a history of bacterial contamination

The septic system has recently malfunctioned

Family members or house guests have recurrent incidents of gastrointestinal illness

An infant is living in the home, or

To monitor the efficiency and performance of home water treatment equipment.

Check with your local health or environmental health department for recommendations regarding the type and frequency of testing specific to your location. For help in interpreting your water test results—and what might be a health risk or an aesthetic issue—ask the lab that conducted the test or your county health department.

Total coliform is the most commonly used indicator of bacterial contamination. The presence of coliform bacteria is an “indicator” of a well’s possible contamination from human or animal wastes. Total coliform are a broad category of bacteria, most of which pose no threat to humans. Some come from fecal matter; others naturally occur in soils, vegetation, insects, etc. The presence of coliform bacteria in well water can be a harbinger of worsening water quality. In some cases, more specific tests for fecal contamination, such as E.coli, may be used.




Testing your private well’s water quality on a regular basis is an important part of maintaining a safe and reliable source. The test results allow you to properly address the specific problems of a water supply. This will help ensure that the water source is being properly protected from potential contamination, and that appropriate treatment is selected and operating properly.

It is important to test the suitability of your water quality for its intended use, whether it be livestock watering, chemical spraying, or drinking water. This will assist you in making informed decisions about your water and how you use it.


The only way to tell if your drinking water is safe is by having it tested at a certified laboratory. Harmful bacteria, parasites, and viruses are invisible to the naked eye, so water which looks and tastes good may not necessarily be safe to drink. These microbes can exist in surface and groundwater supplies, and can cause immediate sickness in humans if not properly treated.

Certain chemical contaminants that are sometimes found in a water source can cause long term health problems that take years to develop. Frequent water testing will identify unsafe water and ensure that the treatment system is treating the water to a satisfactory level.


Useful tests are available to help determine the health and safety of a water supply, and the performance of a water treatment system. Your local health department can assist in selecting tests important for assessing your drinking water.


How Can I Test My Water at Home with a Water Test Kit?

What is a home water test kit?

Home water test kits come in a variety of methods, styles, and shapes. They include simple test strips that you dunk in the water and swirl around for a few seconds and then compare the test strip colors to the colors on the side of the bottle. Test kits also include chemical titration tests that work for hardness and iron, a photometer, or a TDS electronic handheld meter that test for total dissolved solids (TDS) and pH or ORP (oxidation reduction potential)

What do home water test kits test for?

Water tests test inorganics like iron, hardness minerals, and total dissolved solids (TDS), or specific contaminants like lead, nitrates, or arsenic. Since bacteria tests are limited, just test for coliform. Finding out if your water contains coliform is important because reveals bacteria and warns that your water could contain something more specific or more dangerous or harmful like e. Coli. If a bacteria test shows positive for coliform, then use a handheld UV light to further test for e. Coli. Photometers have a litany of different testing capabilities. They can test for cyanide, copper, lead, and many other contaminants. But there are some contaminants that home water test kit won’t find, like cryptosporidium.

What are the different options for home water testing?

There are a variety of options using different methods, but many tests are fairly specific to what you want to find out. For example, if you want to make sure that your water softener is working, water hardness test strips would be ideal. If you’re concerned contaminants like nitrates or arsenic, then you need more specific testing. For example, an arsenic kit includes several phases of sampling water and adding different compounds in it to create a gas in the sample bottle, which then interacts with a test strip.

Do home water test kits test for water hardness?

Yes, they do. We offer different types of hardness tests. One is a test strip that shows you a range and tells you whether your water is soft or not. If you want to test your city water, a test strip will give you a range of hardness. A titration test, where you drop chemicals into a test bottle, gives a more accurate measure of grains per gallon. If you’re setting up or maintaining equipment and want to make sure you’ve done it properly, we recommend that you use the titration test. This chemical test will give you accurate results to help you know you’ve set your equipment up properly.


Drinking Water Testing Kits – Testing Evaluation Program

Environmental Education and Outreach – Drinking water testing and analysis services provided by a National Testing Laboratories, other laboratories,  or certified/licensed professionals.  The residential drinking water testing program includes analysis for common water quality problems, microbiological contamination, and makes recommendations regarding the potential need for water treatment devices, such as: softeners, reverse osmosis units, distillation, neutralizers, chlorination systems, ultraviolet or UV systems. As part of the Water Research Center continuing efforts of environmental education for customers of public water supplies and private water systems, he have offer information on drinking water testing, private well owner education, assistance with explaning water testing results, review water treatment options, and ways to self-screen the quality of your drinking water.

The Basic Water Chemistry Package for drinking water and Bacterial Testing – You will be linked to a different web page – then navigate to Product List and Find the Code Sighted in the Link.

This is a quick test for the presence or absence of Coliform and E. Coli Bacteria in your drinking water or well water. Coliform is an indicator bacteria that public water supplies are required to monitor. The presence of Coliform could indicate the presence of other infection disease causing organisms. If Coliform is present, then we look for E. Coli. which is a known pathogen.

The dual lead test will test for the lead contect in the water and includes sample containers and testing for a “first draw” and a “flushed” sample is perfect for public water systems or private water sources were you suspect corrosion or high levels of copper and lead may be impacting your drinking water (order).

This testing package covers 22 heavy metals and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, lead, arsenic, and mercury in your city or well drinking water. Additionally, analyzes other inorganic compounds and physical characteristics including nitrate, nitrite, chloride, fluoride, sulfate, alkalinity, pH and hardness.


How to test your tap water for lead

Home Testing

Our second round used a “First Alert” home test (sold online and in many hardware stores) that promised to detect not only lead, but also bacteria, pesticides, nitrates, chlorine, hardness, and pH. If you have lead pipes, acidic water can cause the lead to leach out. That’s essentially what happened in Flint. Because water managers failed to add an anti-corrosive agent (as a cost-cutting measure), water from the Flint River ate away at the pipes and pulled lead into the drinking supply.

Tap Score

Of the three tests that we took, Tap Score was the easiest. It also had the most comprehensive results, including measurements for things like copper (which only makes you sick at very high levels, but can kill your goldfish at a much lower threshold), hexachlorobutadiene (which can affect the kidneys), and isopropylbenzene (which may increase risk of cancer). But Billy did not dig the delayed gratification.

Should I test my water for lead?

If you’re at all uncertain of your water’s safety—and you live in New York State—nabbing a free testing kit is a no-brainer. If your state doesn’t offer testing for free, consider investing in a $15 kit to ease your mind. The redundancies between our three results certainly suggest that all of the options we tried are fairly accurate, so if spending 100-200 dollars on a testing kit sounds like overkill, it probably is. But if you live in a town where municipal testing is infrequent—or if you get your water from a well you’ve never tested—it might be worth upgrading to a test that’s as comprehensive and user-friendly as Tap Score.