Article Last Updated: August 2022
Water test kits are simple ways to see what is in your water.
If you are concerned about the safety of your tap water then a water test will help you find out what contaminants are present in your water.
Water testing kits are easy to find and readily available from many online sources.
However, not all water testing kits are equal.
There are several cheap home water tests that are quick and easy to use but do not provide very accurate results. And the entire water testing pursuit is pointless without accurate test results.
This is because you will not gain valuable insights into the issues lurking in your drinking water. And this is very unfortunate if you rely on your water for things like cooking, drinking, laundry etc.
Cheaper water test kits are generally strips that you put into water or chemical drops that will react to certain contaminants.
However, they are no where near as accurate as home laboratory testing kits. You simply need to mail in your water specimen and then get your results online a few days later.
While these tests are usually the most expensive they are also the most detailed, comprehensive and accurate.Whether you are looking to test for hard water, lead or well water. This article will talk you through the best options currently available on the market today.
Expert Buying Tip:
“It is important to understand that the average filter will not be able to treat every single type of bacteria, virus or contaminant. However, once you know the specific contaminants present in your water then you can find the right water filter solution to address your specific water concerns.”
Water Testing Kit Buying Guide
Which Contaminants Do You Want To Test For?
Even the most comprehensive water testing kits will not be able to detect every single kind and variety of contaminant.
You will have to decide upfront what you need to test for and then get the specific test to detect that.
There are a wide variety of water testing kits that will check for a specific number (or combination) of common contaminants.
The most common substances of interest are things like iron, chlorine, lead, fluroide, the level of water hardness and pH.
The more contaminants are test is able to detect, the more expensive it will be.
This is why it will be much cheaper if you already know which specific substance you’re testing for.
Which Testing Procedure Is Better?
Neither because it depends on what you need. Your main water test options are:
- Home test strips / drops.
- Sending off your water samples to a laboratory for a more accurate analysis and receiveing the results online.
If you have a small budget and don’t need detailed accurate results then cheap home test kits will be sufficient.
However, if accuracy is a priority then you should consider a home kit that you send out to a laboratory testing facility.
This option is far more comprehensive.
What Is The Water Source?
Are you testing tap water, swimming pool or well water?
You can save money by getting a different type of test depending on what type of water you will be testing.
This is because there are many water test specifically designed to treat specific types of water. For instance, many companies offer a well water test kit package.
Complete Water Analysis Test Kit
The most complete water analysis you can get is from a laboratory and there are many such labs across North America.
Once you receive the sample collector, take a sample of your water and mail it in. Your results will be posted online within a few days.
Because these tests are performed in a lab, you can have full confidence in the quality of analysis and results.
A full and comprehensive water analysis test kit is on the pricey side but it is by far the most effective way to get the most in-depth water testing that you can rely on.
It will also be worth the investment if it helps you select the right water filters for your home.
And whole house water filters can cost thousands of dollars so this is not something you want to get wrong.
Expert Buying Tip:
“It is possible to get free water test results if you receive your water from a community water supplier. All you need to do is contact the water utility supplier and ask them for a full water analysis report. This is usually supplied for free if it is a public water supplier. You can then use this as a benchmark to test your water against. It will also help you know what to test for or what contaminants you need to focus on.”
Professional Water Test Kit
For one of the most comprehensive water testing kits on the market, consider getting a heavy duty test kit. These are the kind of kits typically used in factories and for industrial purposes.
They are extremely thorough but also very expensive.
An alternative to this is a mail-in comprehensive water testing kit performed by a professional laboratory. These are also very expensive.
However, getting this means you don’t need to own and store large bulky testing equipment.
So this option is good for anyone that only wants to perform the test one time before they decide on which filter option to buy.
The Extended PLUS water tests will sample and screen over 100 different contaminants and provide you with an in-depth analysis. This includes heavy metals, bacteria, fungi, algae, VOC’s and much more.
One of the major benefits of using this type of service is that they don’t just analyse your water, they provide advice too.
Hard Water Test Kits
Most people have hard water.
Having “hard water” means you have a higher level of calcium and magnesium deposits in your water. The result of this is white limescale stains around your pipes, faucets and plumbing. These stains are almost impossible to clean without using chemicals.
Hard water is also what is responsible for the white flakes at the bottom of your kettle.
There are two main ways to deal with this:
A regular salt based softener: This machine is what you need for very hard water. It will require salt and is the only guaranteed way to produce soft water. E.g this.
A salt free softener / water conditioner: This doesn’t use salt but can effectively treat a lower amount of water hardness. For example, Aquasana can only effectively treat up to 25 ppm of water hardness.
The only way to know which one to get is to do a water hardness test.
Water hardness test kits are also a good idea if you’re not sure if your softener is working properly. Knowing one way or the other will let you know if you need to take other precautions to treat your water.
Having hard water over a long period of time in the home is very bad for appliances like your heater, washing machine, dishwasher and so on. So a hard water test and subsequent softener solution is really worth the investment.
Well Water Testing Kit
These types of tests are necessary if you have well water. This is because well water has very specific issues that you need to check for.
“It is even more important to do a well water test because the EPA does NOT regulate private wells.”
For instance, well water is typically full of things like manganese, nitrates, bacteria, hydrogen sulfide and iron.
You can get a full well water test kit that will check for all of these contaminants and more. And it will do this in one go.
This will give you the peace of mind that you need because it will test for everything that is most likely to be in your water including things you might not expect.
Past customers of this service talk about how this well water test kit is straightforward, simple to use and the laboratory result turn around time is very fast.
These results are reliable, come with a full analysis and advice.
Lead Water Tester
Lead is something that a lot of people fear and for good reasons.
It is associated with lots of terrible health issues that include things like anemia, brain and kidney damage. It is also very bad for pregnant women because it can penetrate the placental barrier and directly affect the baby.
Very high lead exposure can kill you.
The scandal of Flint Michigan has created more awareness of the issues around lead contamination.
In addition to this, there are many other types of heavy metals which create equally bad health concerns. For instance, water can be contaminated with copper or mercury.
The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has a suggested limit of 15 ppb (parts per billion) of how much lead can be present in US municipal water supplies.
So it’s a good idea to check to see if the lead in your water is below the 15 ppb threshold.
If it’s higher than this the investment for getting a lead in water test was worth it as it would have prevented you and your family from many potential future health problems.