Well Water Testing Basics What You Need To Know

As a homeowner, your well is probably the most important asset you own. Your health and your family’s wellbeing rely on your well providing safe, high-quality drinking water. If you own a private well, you are responsible for scheduling periodic water testing and treating for any problems that water testing may uncover.

Regular water testing is a relatively simple affair. You should contact a certified well water contractor or state-certified laboratory to arrange an annual quality test. Water testing annually for bacteria and nitrites should cost under $50. Along with annual screening, you should consider testing after any well repairs or hydrofracking or if you’ve installed a new well. If you have a new baby, or small children living in at home, the nitrite testing is of particular importance. Your water should have less than 10 ppm of nitrate. Higher levels can put your child at risk for methemoglobinemia or “blue baby syndrome.”

Testing For Water Contaminants

When buying a new home, it’s smart to test for a few other potential contaminants. All wells should have a test at least once for possible contaminants including lead, pesticides, arsenic, fluoride, gasoline and radon. If there’s no testing record for the home you’re considering purchasing, make a thorough test part of any contingency clause. Often taste, smell and visual appearance ill not detect contaminants. Contact a local certified testing lab or your local health department. They will know if there are any local conditions you might need to be aware of and they can help you to find a qualified local contractor.

Another basic test to consider, especially before installing any water conditioning unit, is a water chemistry test. This series of tests includes checking pH (acidity), iron and manganese, hardness (calcium levels) chloride, sodium and total dissolved solids. These are inexpensive tests and most labs will usually offer a package deal for the series. These tests can help determine water quality problems that may be present in color, taste, odor, water hardness, or staining due to high levels of iron.  All of these mineral related issues can be effectively treated with relatively inexpensive home treatment systems.

For more information, you should contact your local health department. The can help you to find a state-certified drinking water lab and may be able to tell you if any further water testing is necessary. The can also direct you to a certified water treatment contractor that can help you to interpret your test results and recommend and explain the treatment options that are available to you.

It’s important to explicitly follow all the testing instructions from your laboratory. Incorrect sampling procedures can result in inaccurate results, which can render testing meaningless. Remember, if your home is serviced by a private well, your water quality and safety are your responsibility. Water testing is not challenging and is an inexpensive way to ensure your family’s health, well-being, and peace of mind.