Tap Water Testing: How to Test Your Water

What You'll Need
Tap water
Tap water home testing kit

Although the Environmental Protection Agency sets standards for tap water which it claims 90 percent of all local and municipal water systems meet, tap water testing may be in order if you have reason to believe your tap water is contaminated. If you have ever lived in a variety of places, you know how different tap water quality can be. In some places it tastes clean and fresh while elsewhere it tastes rusty or heavy. There are a number of symptoms that contaminated or otherwise low-quality tap water exhibits. This how-to will walk you through the steps of testing your water at home once you have determined that something is wrong with it. 

Step 1: Determine that Something Is Wrong with the Water

There are a number of symptoms to be aware of that can appear in your tap water that may lead you to believe it is contaminated. Sometimes the symptoms appear in your body such as gastrointestinal problems. Mostly, the symptoms are in the water itself. Among those to aware of are a poor taste or smell, the inability to make soap lather and a salty taste. In addition, if you know of work or industrial fixtures nearby, you may detect a problem. Gas or coal mines, landfills or agricultural areas in the immediate vicinity may cause tap water problems.

Step 2: Purchase a Home Tap Water Testing Kit

WaterSafe makes products specifically designed to test your home tap water. For as little as $20, you can check a single water source for bacteria, pH level, lead, nitrates and nitrites, pesticides, chlorine and hardness. You'll want to follow the directions carefully as samples are easily contaminated. For more money you can purchase more comprehensive tests. 

Step 3: Begin Testing the Water: pH Test

Open the home tap water test kit and read through the directions. It is important that you do this so as not to contaminate any of the test strips. WaterSafe All-in-One kits provide tests for numerous contaminants. To test for the pH level of the water, insert the appropriate strip into a container of still, recently poured tap water. Keep it submerged for as long as the directions indicate. The strip will turn a certain color which can be matched to the color chart provided with the kit. Depending on the color, you can see how acidic or base the water is. 

Step 4: Conduct Other Tests

Your home tap water testing kit should contain test strips for other contaminants such as lead, nitrates and bacteria, among others. The tests will be performed in a similar manner as the pH test. Insert the appropriate test strip into the water for the required time, remove the strip and read it according to the chart provided for the particular contaminant. 

One way to ensure safe drinking water is to install one of the numerous types of water filtration systems. Quality drinking water is vital to the health of everyone, especially children, pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems. If you suspect something is wrong with your tap water, test it yourself using a home water test and plan to install a water purifier.