We rely on a clean source of tap water for drinking, cooking, cleaning and many other daily activities. Municipal water supplies are disinfected and cleaned to a basic standard, but contamination can still occur. Due to breaks in the water delivery infrastructure, human error, and other events, it is possible to receive contaminated drinking water. For these reasons, many people are becoming more interested in the quality of their water. With ready access to water testing kits for $5 or $10 at a home improvement store, the next logical question is are they accurate?

What is the Scale of the Contamination Problem?

It’s estimated that 9-45 million American homes have been affected to some degree by drinking water quality violations every year since 1982 and the last analysis occurred in 2018. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) tests regularly for more than 90 contaminants and their findings are released in consumer confidence reports. Sadly, contamination such as the Flint, Michigan lead exposure scandal still occurs. The EPA recommends a water test if people notice a change in their water, such as a bad taste, a cloudy appearance, strange odors and more. But, regular water testing is a good choice if you want to ensure that your drinking water is safe to use.

Do Water Test Kits Work?

There are many home water testing kits on the market and they vary from a strip that you dip in the water and full tab analysis. Testing strips are chemically treated to react to the presence of contaminants in the water. The color of the strip will change depending on the contaminants present and the color is compared to a chart included in the kit. Although these kits make claims to conform to EPA standards, they are not endorsed by that organization. The main drawback of water testing strips is that they cannot indicate the amounts of contaminants present. But, there is another problem, people can perceive colors differently and this can lead to errors when trying to interpret test results.

Are Water Test Kits Worthwhile?

The short answer is maybe if you want some kind of basic screening tool to determine if you need a more accurate test later. A water testing strip will provide some information on the hardness and pH level but the contamination levels are not tested. If you are worried about the cleanliness and safety of your drinking water, it’s important to investigate other options.

Are Digital Water Testers Better?

These electronic gadgets are less prone to errors when evaluating the data because the information is presented as a clear stream of numbers. The user inserts a probe in the water and the hydrogen-ion activity will determine the pH levels and TDS concentrations. Despite this accuracy, a digital tester will offer no data on the presence of microbes or lead. Again, this type of water tester can work as a more accurate screening tool, but it is no substitute for a laboratory water test.

If you want to learn the true makeup of your drinking water, it’s a great idea to invest in a laboratory water test.

By EcoWater Systems.
EcoWater Systems of Nebraska is the largest water treatment company in the state and is a member of Water Quality Association.