How to Test the Water Coming Out of the Tap


It used to be that you didn’t think twice about the water coming out of the faucet. You did your dishes in it, you brushed your teeth with it, and you even enjoyed an icy cold glass of water from it. Then dawned the age where you started to actually realize what might be lurking in your tap water.

Controversy arose about fluoride that is added into the drinking water in the United States, stating it builds up in the body and causes everything from brain damage to thyroid problems. Then people began to learn the innocent term “dissolved solids” which covers everything dissolved in water from mineral to feces.

However, the final nail in the coffin for many was the Flint, Michigan water crisis where residents were not only allowed to drink tap water that was contaminated by enough lead to cause health problems in children by the Governor and EPA, but they were forced by the water company to pay for the privilege of it. When that story broke, every single person who read it looked at their faucet and said, “Hmm,” suddenly realizing the same thing could be happening in their town.

Yet, what can you do about it? Well, you can test your water. There is nothing stopping you from finding out how safe, or utterly unsafe, your city water is except for a couple of bucks. If you are ready to finally put your foot down and find out what is lurking in your water, you have some options available to you.

Call a Professional

This option seems like the best to many people. After all, if you have ants, you call and exterminator. So if you have water concerns, there has to be someone for that too. Your local town has someone in charge of water treatment, testing, and regulation. It is all about finding out who that is. Unfortunately, they usually have better things to do that come out and test your water in particular. However, what they are helpful for is recommending a local and independent lab that you can have test your water.

Yet, water is not one dimensional. Many labs will ask what you want tested for, and at this point they should expect you to say “everything” or “I have no idea”. In most cases, they will run a sweeping test telling you if you have anything in abnormal levels present in your water so you can take action.

If you don’t want to bother a local lab with your water testing, you can also get tap water tests from bottled water providers like Culligan. Some even offer them for free, but typically they come with a sales pitch.

Test It Yourself

Why call a professional when you can just do it yourself, right? The good news is that you can indeed test your own water for a minimum price by buying a handy home testing kit. There are actually quite a few of them out there. Some test for something very specific like iron or chlorine, others cover a wide range. Some good options include:

  • First Alert WT1 Drinking Water test Kit Tests for the presence of bacteria, lead, pesticides, nitrates, chlorine, water hardness, and pH.
  • Watersafe Well Water Test Kit – This is specifically for private well waters that often believe their water is cleaner than city treated water. This kit tests for common contaminates in private wells like lead, copper, iron, bacteria, pesticides, nitrates, chlorine, pH, and hardness.
  • Digital TDS Water Tester If you don’t need (or want) to know what specifically is in your water, just if there are Total Dissolved Solids present, digital meters can be an excellent investment. They are also handy if you use water filters and need to know if it is time to change that filter out. It spits out a number of dissolved solids in Parts per Million (PPM), and the higher the number is, the more dissolved solids are in your water.

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    What to Do After Testing?

    After testing your water, there are two things that are going to happen. Either you are going to be horrified or you are going to be relieved. However, the most likely outcome is that you will get your results back and find a lot of shady things in you tap water that, for some reason, aren’t tripping any alarms. This is because regulations have been put in place that says some lead or arsenic in your water is okay, but not anything above a certain Parts per Million or Parts per Billion number amount.

    That alone might kind of put you off water.

    However, that doesn’t mean you should completely give up on ever drinking your tap water again. Just like water testing, you can also filter your water yourself. There are a number of water filtration systems out there, but reverse osmosis systems are the most effective. Using multi-stage filtration through a number of different filtering materials, they can remove up to 98 percent contaminants in water.

    The result is not only water in which you can gladly drink without worrying about what else might be in it, but it is also noticeably better tasting and infinitely more refreshing. Advanced models can even reinvigorate the filtered water with all the good minerals they you can naturally get from your tap like calcium and magnesium which gives water that refreshing taste you enjoy when you buy it bottled.

    Installing an actual water filtration system and taking back your tap is the best alternative. Don’t retreat away from your house’s own water that you pay for just because the city treats it for the masses and not the individual. Don’t be part of the problem by surrendering your tap and saying you are willing to pay twice for water, once from your tap and then again for it in a bottle so you can actually drink it.