Most Americans have easy access to running water. Even in the driest states in America, water is always available at the turn of a knob. We can get water at any temperature, whenever we want. It’s hard to think there could be any problems with our near-constant running water.
Unfortunately, our water may not be as safe as we think. Contaminated water is actually not uncommon in the United States. High levels of chemicals, minerals, and other contaminants can cause sickness and other health problems. As convenient as it may be, running tap water is not inherently safe.
If you’re worried about your home’s water purity, you can take action to protect your family’s health. This blog will guide you through ways to check your home’s water purity both on your own and with outside help. Follow these steps to ensure the water you drink and cook with stays clean and healthy.
Why Should You Test Your Water?
You should consider testing your water for the following reasons:
- If you have lead or brass pipes or plumbing fixtures, then you might be in danger of lead or heavy metal poisoning, both of which can have serious health effects.
- If your water has an odd smell or taste, your water system might contain chemicals. For example, tap water that smells like a swimming pool could indicate the presence of chlorine in the water. Depending on the chemical, you could be subject to minor effects like eye irritation or stomach pains, or more serious nervous system problems.
- If you have hard water, you won’t face health issues, but hard water does discolor clothes, cause soap scum, and puts spots on dishes.
- If you are moving into a new home, testing your water will help you discover or rule out any existing problems. It is wise to double check an existing system to make sure it is as efficient as possible.
- If you have a well, you should test for possible ground water contaminants such as chemicals, the septic tank, or metals. A well can increase the possibility of water contamination, so make sure to schedule regular testing to prevent any problems from going unnoticed.
How Do You Test Your Water on Your Own?
Once you know what to look for, you can test your water in multiple ways. The simplest method is filling a cup with water and examining it with your eyes and nose. If you see particulates in the water, this could be a sign of bacteria or metal contamination. Smelling can detect the presence of chemical contaminates, like sulfur or organic decay.
This can be a useful preliminary step. The main drawback, though, is that while this method might indicate a problem but doesn’t usually tell you exactly what that problem is.
Another option is to purchase a home testing kit. These are more effective and relatively cheap. Home testing kits break down the water’s contents for you—you simply need to know what level of contamination is unsafe. Here are a few benchmarks to check on your test.
- The pH level should be between 6.5 and 8.5; any other level is corrosive
- Total dissolved solids should not be more than 500 milligrams per liter (mg/L); if the dissolved solids exceed this number, there might be too many chemicals or metals in the water
- Chlorides should be below 250 mg/L Copper should be below 1.3 mg/L
- Copper should be below 1.3 mg/L
- Iron should be below 0.3 mg/L Sulfates should be below 250 mg/L
- Sulfates should be below 250 mg/L
Can I Get Test Results from My Water Company?
If you use public water, you can call your utility company to get a copy of their test results. This should give you a general idea of what is in your personal water supply. If you are uncomfortable with any results, you can always purchase your own filter. You can also call the EPA number in the report to get a more detailed breakdown of any results.
Can I Get my Water Professionally Tested?
If you want a full water diagnostic, you can contact a local laboratory for a professional testing. The local health department has a list (http://www.epa.state.il.us/well-water/list-accredited-labs.html) of approved labs that can test your water. Once you have found a lab, take samples of your water to send to them. Be careful to follow the laboratory’s specific instructions when you take the sample. You could cause a false test result if you don’t follow their recommendations.
Once you have your water tested, you will have the proper information to make an informed decision about how to prevent further contamination. You can contact your local water company for information about filtration or buy a water filter. A water filter is a viable option to protect your home and your health. Use our guide and take steps to test your water today.