At Dierolf Plumbing and Water Treatment, new customers often ask us how they can best know whether their water is safe for drinking.
The answer, of course, is testing it!
Testing your water can give you peace of mind (if it’s safe) or the information you need to plan your next steps to resolving any issues you may have with your water. Whether you need to soften your water to protect your household appliances, or you want to purify your water to make it taste better, or you want to make sure that you’re removing potentially harmful chemicals – knowledge is power here.
Should You Test Your Own Water?
One common question that we often hear is – is there a way to test your own water?
First, if you are on a public water system, the federal drinking water regulations require that the water is regularly monitored. The water company must notify you if there are any contaminants in the water that can cause illness or other issues. Additionally, public water systems provide their customers with an annual water quality report called the Consumer Confidence Report. This report, which is typically delivered in July, contains information on what is in the water, possible health concerns, and other related information.
For private wells, which serve approximately 15 to 20 million households in the United States, you are responsible for the safety of your water. The EPA and Dierolf strongly recommend that you test your water at least once a year. Additionally, the EPA also provides guidance based on certain scenarios that when you may want to test water or run additional types of tests.
Returning to the question – should you test your own water?
Because water quality is not one-dimensional, the answer is: it depends.
Testing For Yourself
There are many retailers who sell water testing kits that can test for a wide range of possible contaminants. These kits are cheap and can be easy to use. Typically they involve putting strips into your water and the strips then react to contaminants.
Unfortunately, these kits aren’t always very accurate. They can help give you an idea if you need further testing, but if you’re concerned about a particular issue, or have had an event that may affect your well water (such as replacing pipes, a sewage leak, or something else), Dierolf’s recommends you contact a professional.
To get the most accurate testing use a laboratory and a person trained in water treatment to gather the samples. This will get you the most accurate and reliable results. The collection process is important so there is no cross contamination during collection which could affect results.
At Dierolf Water Treatment, we collect the samples of your water from various locations within your household. This gives the proper collection so your water can be run across the panels of tests that are used to determine your water’s quality. Typically, we receive the results of those tests within a week. At that time, we will review the results and will call you. If your water looks great, then no further action is necessary. If there are any issues or concerns – particularly health-related issues – we will provide you with recommendations based on the results that we found.
In southeastern Pennsylvania, we very often see hard water issues – sometimes at extreme levels. With private wells, there may be a recommendation of a filtration system to ensure that you keep your drinking water clean. Please keep in mind that even with a filtration system installed, you should still be testing your water yearly because no filtration system will protect from every single type of contaminant.
Regular water testing is crucial and recommended for both public and private water systems.
While tested regularly at the treatment plant, the delivery of public water needs to be considered. We like to use the “noodle example” by asking you – if I put a noodle in the water pipe at the water plant and that noodle came out of your faucet, would you be willing to eat that noodle? This is why public water testing is important. Testing your public water can be used to uncover and discover reasons for your water’s poor taste or smell or detecting the hardness of your water.
Private water testing is highly recommended and should be done yearly for the reasons described in this article.
No matter how you approach your water testing, knowing what is in your water is the first step towards treatment (if necessary) and peace of mind.