Whether you rely on the city for your water supply, or get your water from a well on your property, frequently testing your water yourself can give you a greater insight to what it contains. Even though not all kinds of bacteria in water require city-wide boil orders, it is still nice to know what you have in your water and what you can do about it.

Why Test the Water

There are many kinds of contaminants that are common in water from bacteria and elements from the ground or surrounding structures. Under the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974, cities are required to frequently test their water supplies, but only need to submit a form into the EPA once a year. These reports are often included in a newsletter to the city as well, so that residents can see a detailed report, too.  While it is generally safe to rely on the government testing procedures, it is still nice to get your own detailed report more often than once a year. 

A water test shows what is included in your water. For instance, if you move and wonder how much, if any, fluoride is in your water before giving your kids a supplement, a detailed report will tell you. If your water is showing high levels of coliform bacteria, you will most likely start experiencing recurring gastro-intestinal illness (if you aren't already). Another thing a test can pick up on is a high pH level, which can lead to corroding pipes and less serious issues like making your home harder to clean because of hard water stains. Having a specific read out can help you do the proper water treatment.

When to Test the Water

If your water source is a well on your private property, the CDC recommends testing your well at least every spring, because this is when the water supply is newest from the winter run-off. Doing testing more than once a year is recommended by the CDC only if you see any of the following signs in your water:

  • Indistinct taste or smell
  • Soap won't lather
  • Smell a lot of gasoline or oil in the air
  • Salty taste to water
  • Appears cloudy, frothy, or colored
  • You want to add a water softener or filter
  • Water softener is working overtime
  • There is consistent sickness in the household

If any of these apply to your city supplied water, you can request the city to test again, but it may just be your house. There are pesticides, organic chemicals, and even heavy metals that can appear in any water supply from a lot of different areas. Some of the more common problems come from:

  • Lead Pipes
  • Corrosion of plumbing
  • Nearby intensive agriculture
  • Living close to coal mines or oil fields
  • Gas station close to well
  • Wear of water treatment equipment
  • Living in a radon rich area

Knowing the signs of when to test and keeping your water supply clean and pure is a large benefit to the health of you and those in your household. Contact a testing company, like Funks Drilling Inc, for more information.