Why Do I Need to Test My Water?

If you receive your drinking water from the local municipality, there are a few resources you can use to learn what contaminants are present in your water. Homeowners with water being pumped into their house from the city can check your municipal water quality report. Also called a consumer confidence report, your municipality is required to send residents a copy of the report annually or on demand.

About 86% of the population receives their water from a public supply system. However, 14% of homes use private sources for their water needs. The vast majority of these homes use water stored in wells nearby. If you are unsure of where your water comes from, ask yourself: do you receive a water bill in the mail? If the answer is no, you likely use private well water.


Many Factors Can Cause Contamination

Through no fault of your own, natural weather phenomena or the passage of time can cause contaminants to seep into your well. Flooding or agricultural runoff can infect your water supply with chemicals and organic bacteria. Either the groundwater around your well can become contaminated, or the well’s walls or sanitary seals can deteriorate, come loose, or become damaged in some way.

Possible contaminants in your well include:

Animal waste

Microorganisms
(bacteria, viruses, and parastites)

Nitrates and Nitrites
from fertilizers

Heavy metals
(arsenic, lead, chromium,
cadmium, and selenium)

Naturally-occuring Fluoride

Pesticides

Industrial chemicals or waste

Naturally-occurring Radionuclides
(uranium, radium, and radon)

Nearby manufacturing plants, local agricultural plots, sewer overflows, and the septic tank in your own backyard can cause these contaminants to be released in the groundwater.Many of these chemicals, if left in your water, can cause serious adverse health effects. The only way to know if your water requires treatment is to conduct a test of your water quality.

How Frequently Should I Test My Water?

The general guideline is that your well water should be tested once a year at minimum. However, as with any cautionary measure, the frequency should be increased if there is any cause for concern.

If you notice any significant change to the quality or your water, you should order a water test as soon as possible. Possible change in water quality include, but are not limited to:

A change
in taste

A change
in color

A change
in smell

A change in
consistency
(does your water
feel chalky?)

In addition, if any abnormal occurrences threaten the integrity of your well, you should test your water immediately and refrain from drinking it until your results are back. These situations include:

  • Flooding nearby or in your well
  • A storm like a hurricane or tornado
  • An earthquake than can destroy the lining of your well
  • An abrupt change in water quality of any kind after a heavy rain
  • Spills or leaks reported from nearby processing, power, or manufacturing plants
  • Reports of runoff from nearby farms or agricultural lands

There are certain living situations that warrant more frequent testing (at least once per 6 months). Test your water more frequently if:

Hazardous waste or chemicals are used often nearby your home

Industrial lands exist near your property

Your well water has previously tested positive for any worrisome contaminants

Use context to determine when is best to conduct the testing of your well water. And remember, when you conduct a test, test both the water from the tap and the source water if at all possible. This will let you know where the problem exists, whether in your well or in your pipes.

Types of Water Tests

Depending on your budget and what contaminants you suspect are present in your water, there are multiple options for water testing. Pelican Water carries many tests, some which test for basic contaminants and some that are more comprehensive.

12-Point Rapid Water Test

As its name suggests, our low cost 12-Point Rapid Water Test checks for the 12 most common well water contaminants, including:

Total Coliform (Bacteria)

Turbidity

Fluoride

Copper

Total Dissolved Solids (TDS)

Hardness

Nearby manufacturing plants, local agricultural plots, sewer overflows, and the septic tank in your own backyard can cause these contaminants to be released in the groundwater.Many of these chemicals, if left in your water, can cause serious adverse health effects. The only way to know if your water requires treatment is to conduct a test of your water quality.

The WaterCheck 32

For a more comprehensive water test, invest in the WaterCheck 32, which tests for 32 distinct contaminants and potential issues in your drinking water. Some contaminants the test examines that are not detected in a basic test include:

Lead

Aluminum

Arsenic

Mercury

Alkalinity

Barium

You can choose the original WaterCheck 32, or for additional bacteria testing purchase the WaterCheck 32 With Bacteria.

Complete Water Test With Pesticides

You can never be too careful with your water quality. For the most in-depth water test, go with Pelican’s Complete Water Test With Pesticide, which screens for an impressive 105 different contaminants and potential issues. Also called the WaterCheck 105, this test can detect any of the following:

Selenium

pH Level

Acetone

Silica

Chloroform

Benzene

Visit the Complete Water Test With Pesticide page for a full list of covered contaminants.

Specialty Tests

When you experience specific issues or want to test more thoroughly for key contaminants, we recommend using a specialty test designed to detect that contaminant or chemical.

The Complete Iron and Hydrogen Sulfide Tests are specialty tests that detect two of the most common contaminants in well water and break down the results so you can choose the right water filtration system for your home. Iron is known to leach into water supplies throughout the United States from rock and soil formations, and can begin the staining and scale process in concentrations as low as 0.3 ppm (parts per million). Hydrogen sulfide is a colorless, very poisonous, flammable gas with the characteristic foul odor of rotten eggs at concentrations up to 100 parts per million. It often results from the bacterial breakdown of organic matter in the absence of oxygen, such as in swamps and sewers.

You can also order Radon and Tannin Tests through Pelican Water. Radon is produced during the radioactive decay process of uranium that has been in the earth's crust since the earth was formed. Drinking water that contains radon is not believed to cause a significant health risk, but a high airborne radon level is linked to increased risk of lung cancer. Radon in water contributes to the airborne radon level in some of these homes, adding to the airborne radon that enters the house as a soil gas. Tannins are found in waters which have passed through large quantities of decaying vegetation. Tannins can cause yellow water and yellow staining on fabrics and fixtures.

How to Test Your Water

Instead of spending the money for a professional to conduct a water test in your home, order a water test that you can conduct yourself then ship the vials off to a lab for testing.

Depending on your level of concern, budget, and if you are conducting a general test or a specialty test, choose and order the Pelican Water test that best suits your needs.

1

Once the test arrives, carefully read all of the instructions on the packaging to guarantee a valid sample.

2

Follow the instructions provided to gather a water sample for testing.

3

Using FedEx or UPS Overnight Saver, return your kit with the sample to the testing laboratory location indicated in the instructions. Note: return shipping is not included.

4

The lab will process the results of your water test within 7 to 10 days of receiving your kit.

5

Read your results once they have been mailed back to you.

Sometimes interpreting and understanding the results of your water test can be challenging. If you have any questions it’s best to contact the lab that conducted the testing, then reach out to Pelican directly if you still have questions.

Depending on what test you ordered, your water analysis report can be quite lengthy. In order to understand if the amounts or parameters of contaminants listed in your report require attention, you must compare the concentrations against the general limits of that contaminant for drinking standards. Some tests will include this information so you will know which contaminants require treatment by a filtration system.

If you have any unanswered questions concerning your water test results, call a Pelican Water specialist today!