How to Test Your Home Drinking Water

Test your drinking water for chemicals
Test your drinking water for chemicals (Image: Katrina Wittkamp/Lifesize/Getty Images)

There is much controversy as to whether drinking water is safe. Testing your drinking water will give you the tools to decide what is safest for you and your family. Water testing varies in price depending on what chemicals you want to test and whether you use a home kit or a certified testing agency. Chemicals that can be tested for are arsenic, magnesium, calcium, iron, fluoride, nitrates, solvents, pesticides, and petroleum. Testing your water regularly and keeping up to date on local violations are important steps to water safety.

Use a certified and licensed testing center to test your drinking water. This information can be obtained from your local health and environmental departments or other government agencies. State certified agencies will test according to the guidelines of the Environmental Protection Agency, which ensures safe public drinking water.

Buy a water testing kit from a local home or hardware store. These kits come with color test strips that you match to a chart to determine the amount of a certain chemical in your water. These kits are inexpensive and easy to use.

Contact a local or mail order lab to have your water tested. These can be found on the Internet or in a phone book and require you to send or drop off a sample of your water. It will be tested and you will be sent a report on the findings. These tests can be a little more costly but the testing is more detailed.

Get in touch with the EPA to find out what is involved in water testing and the best ways for you to test your own water. One job of the EPA is to enforce the Safe Drinking Water Act, which was put into place to protect public drinking water. This act requires that water supply companies notify the public within 24 hours of a violation that has potential serious adverse effects on the public.

Make contact with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or a local agency to discuss ways of testing well water, which does not fall under the Safe Drinking Water Act. Homeowners are responsible for testing their own well water, which can have contaminants from seepage of landfills, pesticides, fertilizers and general run-off in urban areas. This type of water needs to be tested frequently for safety.

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