You can easily spot problems with your electricity by reading the meter, and cable services are usually easy to trouble shoot, but water quality is a little more difficult to discern due to the fact that most issues with water can only be identified through tests.
All water has dissolved substances, and at high concentrations they can be harmful when consumed by drinking, through cooking or bathing. Being aware of state-regulated tests of your city’s water supply and performing self-tests are great ways to ensure you’re consuming clean water.
Water from natural sources is often affected by human activity such as industrial development, mining and farming. Pesticides, gasoline and pharmaceutical drugs are only a few of the many contaminants that can find their way into your tap and consequently your body. Consumption of contaminated water can result in dizziness, nausea, skin rashes and other immediate affects. Long term consumption may result in chronic illness or neurological dysfunction.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) requires public water suppliers to provide data about the water quality in your state, but this information is not usually publicized. We’ve provided many helpful tips and resources in this blog to help you determine the quality of your water and where you can go to find pertinent and up-to-date information.
While we’re focused mainly on the external sources of contamination, it is important to point out that rusted pipes (lead) and worn-out pots (aluminum) can also pollute your water and result in long term chronic affects such as cancer, learning disabilities, miscarriage and more.
Testing for water quality could get expensive because separate tests are needed for different pollutants. The most accurate testing resources are state laboratories, but there are other avenues. Here is a list of different testing options.
- Call your local health department: Ask for the most recent reports and the type of chemicals that were tested. This can eliminate the need to test for most of the chemicals in your water. Note any hazards that are unique to your area.
- Independent labs: There are several independent water testing labs throughout the country.
- Water testing kits: These are good options and can be found at your local hardware store, but even these kits are not at accurate as lab tests.
- Self tests: There are some basic tests that you can do on your own that may indicate if further tests are necessary, but these tests are not conclusive.
- Run tap water into a clear glass and hold the glass up to a light to check for any cloudiness or discoloration. Smell the water. A slight chlorine smell is perfectly normal if you get your water from a city water supply. Any other foul odor should raise cause for concern.
- Check drains and porcelain items where water frequently passes, toilets and bath tubs are usually a good place to check for red, green or brown stains that could indicate chemicals in your water.
If any of your tests should render results of contamination, you can purchase a water filter that can be placed outside of your home to filtrate all of the water you will be using indoors
Test the water as soon as possible after moving in to have something to base future tests on.