How to Test Tap Water? What Tests Work Best?

How to Test Tap Water? What Tests Work Best?

Is your tap water safe? Nearly half of the American population is unsure of how safe their drinking water is. It is not a surprise that many citizens feel this way, especially due to recent environmental tragedies such as the Flint water crisis. Because of the long-term implications of ingesting harmful chemicals in water, people need to test their water. The only way to determine how safe one’s tap water is is by carrying out actual tests. Although these tests could require some money, effort, and time, they’re worth doing!

Many people generally consider water testing to be a municipality’s responsibility and not that of a homeowner. However, in the wake of recent technologies and the advancement of modern chemistry over the years, one can conveniently take testing into one’s own hands. These advancements in technology make it possible to detect thousands of harmful chemicals in water accurately, even when present at very low concentrations.

If one were to get a list of all chemicals to test, that list would be as long as an arm. It’s overwhelming, to say the least. Also, most testing methods would require the use of state-of-the-art facilities. But here’s the thing: you don’t have to test for everything! With just a few essential and practical tests, one can know the chemical quality of their tap water even when on a limited budget!

Should You Have Your Water Tested?

Knowing the integrity and safety of your tap water concerns your health and your entire family’s health. With the health of so many individuals at stake, you surely need to test your tap water periodically and get to know some basic facts. Apart from being a potential cause of illness, contaminated water could result in less severe problems such as an awful taste, odor, or color. Contaminated water could also stain clothes and fixtures. Also, how near your water well is to septic tanks and what your plumbing materials are composed of are things to consider.

People on municipal water may not have to worry much about the safety of their tap water because they receive periodic annual reports known as the Consumer Confidence Report (CCR). However, these results are sometimes hard to understand and may not represent the water that comes out of your tap. For example, people who live in homes built before the use of lead-free pipes became mandatory (homes built before 1986), should get their water tested. This is because even when the report from the CCR declares the water lead-free, lead can still leach from your home pipes and into your water. If you use well water, you must get your water tested because you won’t get a CCR.

How To Test Your Drinking Water

It is quite easy to test one’s tap water for contamination because of the increase in test kits available for at-home testing of tap water. However, sometimes, the accuracy and range of contamination they test for are not well-defined. Therefore, the EPA always recommends the use of certified labs. On average, it will cost somewhere between $20 to $250 to test the water. 

Choosing The Right Filter

Your local results or the results from a personal tap water test determines if you’ll need to filter your water and what type of filter to use. Here’s how to choose a filter that suits your needs.

  1.   When there are multiple high-level water contaminants

If your water contains high levels of multiple contaminants, the best filters to use are the reverse osmosis filters. Reverse Osmosis filters can remove a wide range of contaminants such as bacteria, lead, arsenic, etc. Although this type of water filtration can cause some water wastage, it is proven to be effective in providing clean water by passing the water supply through various filter stages.

  1.   When the water has a bad taste and odor

One of the biggest complaints people have about their drinking water is unpleasant smells and tastes. If your water is not highly contaminated but has a noticeably lousy taste or odor, then a carbon filter or pitcher filter would do the trick. However, it is essential to note that carbon filters or pitcher filters cannot remove lead from the water. Some of the most popular water filter products available in the market simply hide the smell and taste, but don't do much for removing chemicals and other contaminants.


It is crucial to ensure that any filter you choose meets the standards set by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and NSF International for specifically removing the contaminants you wish to eliminate. An independent lab should also certify such filters. For convenience, you may want to select a filter that attaches to your sink so that you can easily use the water to wash dishes, cook, and so on.

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