If you want to have confirmation of the fact that your tap water is safe to drink, you can easily test it yourself. An illness or other health problems like diarrhoea or gastrointestinal problems caused by drinking tap water are a clear indication that something might be wrong with your drinking water. Likewise, changes in the taste, colour, appearance or odour of tap water also indicate the presence of contaminants. These factors may be a sign that you need to test your tap water to determine the contaminants that may be lurking in it, and which may have adverse health effects.

Hand holding drinking glass while being filled with tap water from kitchen faucet.

While some contaminants can make their presence felt through odours (e.g. chlorine, hydrogen sulphide), other contaminants cannot be perceived through smells or tastes (e.g. heavy metals or bacteria). So how can you test your water for contaminants at home?

Ways to test water at home

While monitoring changes in the quality of your tap water can help detect changes in taste or odour of water, there is only one way to pinpoint the exact cause of what may be wrong with your water, and that is testing it. There are two ways to test your water at home: purchase a home water test kit or opt for a home water testing service.

Home water test kits are affordable, easy to use tests that can be purchased online. Depending on their type, they can help you test your water for common contaminants such as chlorine, pesticides, nitrates, nitrites, lead, bacteria, fluoride, etc. Usually, the more contaminants a testing kit tests for, the more expensive it is.

Water testing services are tests carried out by a specialised laboratory and are usually more complex than simple test kits, and include testing for a much wider range of contaminants. Like home water test kits, these too can be ordered online. You’ll usually receive a sample collection kit with instructions on how to carry out the sampling. The samples will be then collected by a courier at your convenience and you’ll receive the results by email. Water testing services are available in different configurations depending on whether you want to test your tap water or any other water source (rainwater, lake, well water, stream, etc.).

Apart from checking the quality of your water, the results revealed by these tests will also be useful in selecting a water filter system for your home.

How often should you test water at home?

Ideally, you should test your water each year or whenever you notice some changes in the quality of your tap water. Strong smells and strange tastes, or changes in the colour of your tap water usually call for a test. Even if you have a water filter installed in your home, as a precautionary measure, it’s a good idea to carry out water testing when someone in your household is pregnant or nursing an infant just to make sure that your tap water’s quality is up to par.



 

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