Your Complete Guide to Testing your Tap Water [2021]

Updated: Jun 28

Springwell Whole House Water Filter

This is a complete guide to testing home drinking water in 2021.


Use this guide for tips on testing your water quality and what to do with the results if you are concerned your tap water may be contaminated.


Let's get started.


How safe is my drinking water?

More and more homeowners have installed water filters, reverse osmosis units, ionizers, softeners, and distillers in their homes in recent years.


What is the point of improving safe drinking water when it's already supposed to be safe? Where is the problem?


A water treatment plant should not pose any real problem when it comes to drinking water. Does that make sense?


How can I test the water in my home?

If you choose to test your water yourself, various methods can be used, or you may entrust the work to a professional organization. Water testing methods generally take little time or cost little money, although some are time-consuming or pricey.


Educating yourself on water testing is an excellent place to begin before improving water quality.


You can test your home's drinking water using some of the following methods:


1. You can send the water sample to a lab.

Sending a sample of your water to a reputable local laboratory will be the best way to test all of the contaminants in your water if you aren't sure which contaminants to test for.


Compared to home testing kits, which often only test for specific contaminants, lab results will pinpoint a broader range of elements in your water.


To ensure your water is accurately tested, labs that offer water testing usually ask you to follow specific instructions. Sending samples in should be done within 24 hours. They should be refrigerated before sending.


Most laboratories provide laboratory containers, and you will receive them before your visit. Choosing a laboratory is best done by giving them a call and discussing the process of sending a sample since all of them function in slightly different ways.


Water quality testing in laboratories

The most comprehensive testing method is in the lab or having a water analysis done by a professional.


Whether you use a well water source or not, you can hire a professional to conduct your water source thorough testing.


When it comes to ensuring that your water does not have contaminants in it that could make you sick, testing your well water is essential.


To ensure your well water remains clean and contaminant-free, you'll need to factor in regular well water inspections.


A 12-to-14-month testing schedule is recommended for private water supplies.

The use of specialist equipment can allow a well water inspector to determine whether specific contaminants are present in the healthy water in safe quantities or not.


Depending on how detailed your inspector thinks the water sample needs to be, he or she may send it to the lab for examination. To know the precise composition of your water, you must request this from your inspector.


Getting your water tested professionally is still a good idea, even if you don't use water from a private source but are considering a home water treatment unit. By testing your water, you will determine what's in it and what you might want to remove. By doing this, you will be able to make an informed decision regarding purchasing the right water filter system for your household.


2. Using kits for water testing

Using a water testing kit at home is one of the easiest ways to test for contaminants.


You can test the water for different elements with different kits. For example, kits can test for pH, bacteria, sulfur, chlorine, or dissolved solids, while others test for lead, bacteria, sulfur, and chlorine.


A variety of testing kits will allow you to test for various contaminants in the same kit, but no test kit will tell you everything in the water.


Many home water testing kits fail to detect all contaminants in a single drinking water sample because a single sample supposedly contains hundreds of different contaminants.

A kit to test drinking water

To get started, choose a kit that tests for anywhere from six to ten+ contaminants if you have never used a home water testing kit before. This sort of testing kit should give you a good indication of your water quality since lead and chlorine are the most common contaminants in drinking water.


If you're concerned about specific contaminants in your water, you can pick a test kit designed for the task.


Testing kits can be used to determine how much sulfur or iron your water contains and how this will affect its taste, for example.


It's essential to keep in mind that water testing kits can't provide the most accurate picture of your water's composition, but they're an excellent place to start.


Let's look at the common contaminants that an average water testing kit can test for:

· Sediment: That is things like grit or sand, which can affect the overall quality of water.

· Hard water minerals: Those are things like magnesium and calcium, which cause limescale problems.

· Lead: That is a toxic mineral in large amounts, and it can cause your water to have a metallic taste.

· Sulfur: This is a bacterial-caused or naturally occurring element. It tends to give water a rotten egg taste.

· Chlorine: This is harmful in large quantities and can affect the taste of water.

· Iron: This mineral can affect water taste and often leaves rust or stains on surfaces.

· Bacteria: This can cause diseases and be harmful.


Testing Strips

Test strips can be used to determine the levels of contaminants that you have in your water. You can find that the directions on how to use the strips will vary based on the kit. Be sure to read the instructions carefully, even if you have used a similar kit in the past.


You can use these test strips to test for water bacteria, pH, hardness, chlorine, and general analysis. A testing kit often comes with multiple strips made to find the various contaminants in your water.

To use the strips, you will have to dip them in a fresh sample of the water and then wait for it to turn a particular color. It could take several minutes or several seconds, even though it is best to keep the strip in the water for the amount of time listed in the instructions.



You will then compare the color on the strip to the chart provided with the strips. The chart will have various colors which show the quantities of the contaminants in the water. That will show how much of something in your water, but it may not be 100% reliable because we all see colors differently.


Test Strips for Drinking Water


Color Disks

If you want to save money, and want an easy way to test your water quality, then a color disk is a great way. Color disks often contain a powder or liquid reagent and a reusable plastic tube.


All you have to do is add the needed amount of reagent to the tube with a sample of your drinking water. The water will then start to change color. When it starts to change color, you have to leave it set for a couple of minutes and then place the tube inside a viewing box.

The viewing box will have a plastic color wheel that will show various colors. Rotate the wheel until you find a shade that fits the color of your water. That will indicate how much contaminant is in your water.

The color disks are often more expensive than the testing strips but often more accurate. However, there is still an issue because you may not fully match up the shade of the water to the color on the disk.



Digital Instruments

If you want to be more technical when it comes to testing your drinking water, you could use a handheld digital instrument to provide electronic readings of the contaminants found.

They will be able to provide one of the most accurate readings out of the home water testing kits on the market and are often used at an industrial level. However, there are a few cheaper digital water testing instruments too.


The most common options for digital testing include photometers, colorimeters, and digital meters. They are all delicate to use but provide precise results, which makes them worth the effort.