Water Testing Kits
Test your drinking water
There are a variety of do-it-yourself water quality tests you can perform on your drinking water. Most will test for the following eight elements: bacteria, lead, pesticides, nitrates, nitrites, chlorine, pH and hardness. Test kits can be ordered online for an average price around $20.
Safety guidelines for using water test kits:
- Keep your test away from children and pets.
- Do not ingest anything from the test kit.
- Store and use water test kit at room temperature.
- Do not open the packets or vial until you are actually ready to perform the test.
- Do not perform the test on hot water or water containing bleach detergents.
- Do not reuse any part of the test kit.
How to complete a lead or pesticides test on your drinking water:
- Open packet and take out all contents. The packet should contain a test vial, a dropper pipette, two test strips and a desiccant. The desiccant can be discarded immediately.
- Place exactly two droppers full of water as a sample into the test vial.
- Swirl vial gently for several seconds and place on a flat surface.
- Place both test strips into the test vial, with arrows pointing down.
- Wait 10 minutes. Do not disturb strips or vial during this time. Blue lines will appear on the strips.
- Take the strips out of the vial and lay them on a flat surface with the arrows pointing to the left.
- Read the results. If it's negative, the left line will be darker than the right line. If it's positive, the right line will be darker than the left line, or both lines will be equally dark. If no lines appear, or if they are very light, the test did not work properly and the result is invalid.
Interpreting the Results
- Positive results indicate the presence of the contaminant in your water.
- Negative test results indicate that the contaminant is not present at a toxic level.
The two most common situations that may indicate the need to have your water tested are:
- You suspect lead contamination from your plumbing materials or service lines.
- You are considering purchasing a home water treatment unit such as a reverse osmosis water filter system, and need to find out if your water quality warrants this investment.
You should also test your water if:
- You are a well owner, have a new well or have replaced or repaired pipes or pumps. Be sure to test well water at least once every year for total coliform bacteria, nitrates, total dissolved solids and pH levels. If radon is a problem in your area, test for this also.
- You are pregnant. Test for nitrate before bringing an infant home, and again during the first six months of the baby's life.
- You have taste, odor and staining issues (clothing staining and bathroom fixture staining). Every three years, you should test for sulfate, chloride, iron, magnesium, hardness and corrosion.