Ensuring that you have access to clean and safe water in your home is crucial for your health and well-being. Water quality can vary widely depending on a number of factors, including the source of your water, the condition of your pipes, and how it’s treated before it reaches your tap. Below are detailed steps on how to test the quality of your home’s water supply.

Understanding Water Contaminants

Before you begin testing, it’s important to understand what potentially harmful substances you might be looking for. Common contaminants include:

  • Biological: Bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi.
  • Chemical: Heavy metals like lead and mercury, industrial chemicals, pesticides, and pharmaceuticals.
  • Physical: Sediment, organic material, or other substances affecting the physical appearance or properties of water.
  • Radiological: Certain forms of ionizing radiation from substances like uranium.

Initial Assessment

Start with a sensory evaluation. It’s simple and can indicate if there are immediate issues with your water.

  • Look: Fill a clear glass with water and hold it up to the light. Cloudiness or particles can be indicators of contamination.
  • Smell: A musty or earthy smell could signal organic decay, while a chlorine smell is common in municipal water.
  • Taste: Metallic, salty, or chlorine tastes can indicate the presence of heavy metals or high levels of disinfectants.

Gathering Information

Before you test, gather information about your local water:


Find out whether your water comes from a municipality, a well, or another source.

Water Quality Report

If you’re on municipal water, your provider is required to provide an annual Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) that details testing results and any contaminants found.

At-Home Water Testing Kits

At-home testing kits are a good starting point for water quality analysis. They typically include strips that change color in the presence of various contaminants.

Purchase a Kit

Select a kit that tests for a broad range of contaminants.

Follow Instructions

Carefully follow the kit’s instructions for collecting and testing your water sample.

Assess Results

Compare the results to the EPA’s recommended water quality standards.

Laboratory Testing

For more accurate and comprehensive results, consider sending a sample of your water to a certified laboratory.

Find a Lab

Locate a state-certified water testing laboratory. The EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline (800-426-4791) or your state’s health department can provide recommendations.

Determine Tests Needed

Based on your initial assessment and local water quality reports, decide which tests to request.

Collect Samples

Follow the laboratory’s instructions precisely when collecting your water sample to avoid contamination.

Send for Analysis

Package the samples as directed and send them to the lab promptly.

Testing Specific Contaminants


Test Kits

You can purchase lead-specific test kits or ask your water authority if they provide free testing.

Laboratory Testing

For a more reliable result, a lab test is recommended, especially if your home has older plumbing.


At-Home Testing

Many at-home kits include a hardness test.

Professional Testing

If hard water is a concern due to scale buildup, consult with a water treatment professional.

pH Levels

pH Strips

Simple pH test strips can give you a quick reading of your water’s acidity or alkalinity.

Lab Testing

For precise measurements, a laboratory analysis is best.

Interpreting Results

Once you have your results, compare them to the standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for drinking water, or your local regulatory body if outside the USA.

Addressing Water Quality Issues

If tests reveal contaminants above acceptable levels, consider the following actions:

Filtration Systems

Install a home water filtration system appropriate for the contaminants identified.

Water Softeners

Use water softeners to deal with hard water.

Consult Experts

If contaminants are of serious concern, consult an environmental engineer or water quality professional.

Report Problems

If you’re on municipal water and find problematic contaminants, report them to your water supplier and the EPA.

Regular Testing

Regular testing is key to ensuring continued water quality:


Test your water annually, or more frequently if you suspect new contamination or changes in water taste, odor, or appearance.

Document Changes

Keep a record of all test results to monitor changes over time.

Testing your home’s water supply should be a regular part of your household maintenance. With the wide variety of potential contaminants, it’s crucial to stay informed and proactive about the quality of water you and your family use every day. By following the methods outlined above, you can ensure that the water flowing from your taps is safe and healthy. Remember to stay current with local water quality reports and to retest anytime you notice changes in your water or if there have been environmental disruptions that could affect the water supply. Your vigilance will contribute to the overall health and peace of mind of your household. If you are looking for pure water, contact Tri-State Waterworks today.