We require clean water for a host of activities — to bathe, to drink, to clean our homes and more. The quality of water we use can be determined in any number of ways, but the best is testing. Testing can be done at the public water facility level, but it can (and should) also be done at home. This is done at using an at-home test or a send-in test which goes off to a lab.
Types of Water Test Kits
Let’s run through the most popular types of water test kits. Before that, let’s make it clear that your own senses of smell and test should always be active when drinking your water. You won’t be able to taste, see, or smell most water contaminants but if something seems off, you’ll want to evaluate your water immediately! Our list of water contaminant indicators should help with that.
At-Home Test Kit
The quality of water rests on the concentration of bacteria, lead, pesticides, nitrates/nitrites, chlorine, hardness and the water’s pH level. A home water quality test kit will consist of strips that you will go on to expose to water. It will change color depending on the water’s mineral content. All you have to do then is match this color to a color chart provided with the test kit. Here is an example of a popular one sold through Amazon.com. Just make sure you are buying a test kit for drinking water, not pools! These has a range of quality and price levels so do your research and buy accordingly.
Free Municipal Water Testing
Many local governments/water suppliers offer free at-home testing. This is almost always done by sending a water sample into a lab at the expense of your local government or water supplier. New York City has a testing program, as do many other locales. This usually the best option to explore first.
The EPA has a list of certified water testing facilities that you can send your water into for testing. A certified lab can test your water (though they might charge for it) and tell you about contaminants, minerals, toxins, etc. This is going to be a top choice if you have well water, as you’ll want to take a sample and mail it into a facility for testing at least once a year (or whatever your local government recommends). You’ll also want to do a robust water test any time you see/smell/taste changes in your water and if you have construction, digging, tunneling, or seismic activity in your area!
For example if you live in Florida, your list of certified test labs is here. You can sort through the list for a lab near you and then pick from the list. You might find something like the City of North Miami Beach Quality Control Laboratory or the City of Fort Lauderdale Environmental Laboratory. Phone numbers are provided in the results. Or you can simply go to a reputable nationwide lab that handles mail-in tests, Watercheck.com. Their lab has a number of certifications, including specifically for populous states like New York, California, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Florida.
If you want to let a professional handle the matter, it’s not immediately obvious who you call. Searching for a “water tester” or “water professional” might not get you very far. Rather, search for a “home inspector” that does “environmental testing” and/or water testing. Most will offer a free consultancy so you can at least give them a call and get a basic understanding of what testing they will do, how pricing works, and so forth.
Clean water is a necessity and it is important that you consume treated and filtered water that can protect you from diseases. Water quality checks are carried out to ensure this and must not be taken lightly.