A number of signs can indicate that your water is in need of quality testing. Changes in taste, appearance, or odor are common signs of contamination, but there are a number of contaminants that will not leave any signs at all, so it’s important to water test under the following conditions, as well; if you’ve moved into a new home or city, if you think your septic system may have malfunctioned, if your family continuously gets gastrointestinal illnesses, or if you have any infants living in your home. You will also want to test your water regularly to check the efficiency of any water treatment equipment you’ve installed.
For water testing recommendations specific to your area, you can contact the local health or environmental agency. Some regions are more at risk of certain contaminants than others and you will want to be privy to this information. Some region-specific markers are arsenic and radon, a gas that is a byproduct of radioactivity. You can also purchase at-home water testing kits relatively inexpensively or employ a professional from a water works facility. They can test your water professionally or help you to interpret the results of you own at-home test.
One of the first contaminant markers you’ll want to note is Coliform Bacteria. This marker is present when the water is contaminated by human or animal waste. The Total Coliform category is a broad one and is actually more harmless than it seems. The marker would need to be incredibly high to pose a threat worth noting. The importance of the marker is more as a place to begin, and to compare future water testing results against. If the number climbs, you may have a more significant matter that needs addressing.
Another important indicator is Nitrate. High levels of nitrate indicates a health risk threatened by contaminants of fertilizers, septic systems, animal manure, and sewer lines. It may also occur in nature as a breakdown process. With high levels of Nitrate, you are recommended to test for several other markers and not to use the water until the problem is completely resolved.
Other beneficial test conclusions will tell you the water’s PH balance, hardness, iron level, manganese, and sulfides that can corrode pipes and change your water’s odor. If your water appears cloudy, you notice marks on your fixtures caused by water, or your water treatment equipment stops functioning as it should, you should test your water and have it interpreted by a professional.